Design Summit/Kilo/Travel Tips
Welcome to Europe and France, the country of cheese, wine, and the famous baguette :-)
Like for the Hong Kong summit (Summit/Icehouse/Travel_Tips), here is a travel tips page for Paris brought to you by the French user group.
Need local help when at the summit ?
The OpenStack-fr user group will have a booth in the Expo hall (location: E47), where people will be available to help you.
We hope you will enjoy your stay in France for this first OpenStack summit in Europe.
The OpenStack-fr team
- 1 Disclaimer
- 2 Practical stuff
- 3 Find your way
- 4 Language
- 5 Safety
- 6 Food
- 7 Shopping
- 8 Attractions
- 9 Traveling the rest of France and Europe - if you plan a bit of tourism as well
- 10 Traveling by rail outside France
All the following information is given with no guarantee.
Please double check for important stuff and use other sources of information such as https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/France and https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Paris, or http://en.parisinfo.com/ (Paris tourist office).
Paris and more generally France (metropolitan part) is UTC+1 in November (it's +2 during Summer when DST is in effect).
That means +9 hours from US west coast, +6 hours from US east coast, -10 hours from east Australia, -7 hours from Hong Kong.
November in France is the beginning of the coldest season. Expect temperatures around 10°C and plan for some potential rain.
France, like most European countries, use Euro (€, EUR). ATMs are available everywhere.
1 EUR ~= 1,26 USD.
Most credit and debit cards will work, including Visa and MasterCard. American Express is not accepted everywhere, though in majors hotels and stores in Paris it's probably ok.
Cash: you will mostly use notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 euros. There are also 100, 200 and 500 notes. Coins: 1, 2 euros, and cents : 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1.
Some smaller shops or booths may not accept larger notes. International checks are not accepted, only from a French bank.
Tipping is usually not expected as it is already charged in the note, though appreciated if service was good in taxis or restaurants.
Prices are announced with all taxes included (20% VAT generally and restaurant meals at 10% VAT). Non-EU people can ask for tax return, see http://www.discoverfrance.net/France/Paris/Shopping/Paris_VAT.shtml
Type E plugs: http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/e/
If you have devices from the US, you will need an adapter. Please note that the voltage is 220V so make sure your electronic devices can accept it (some are only 110V).
Phone / Data
As it's been asked on the ML, here're some prepaid mobile solutions that could fit for summit attendees (from my company, sorry... but I don't have the couarage to seeks for other's), you'll have to go in news/tobacco resellers, or in orange shops, and ask for "mobicard":
- You can get 2h International calls + 1G data for 40Euros/50$ with mobicard holidays"
- For budgets, "Mobicarte max 10 Euros"+ 8 Euros for SIM will give you 1h mainland calls + 100 Mo.
For US people
We use the metric system, Celsius degrees, and all that kind of weird stuff ;)
- 1 mile = 1.6 kilometer (conversely, 1 kilometer is 0.62 mile)
- 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters (conversely, 1 centimeter is 0.393 inch)
- 1 lb = 0kg 453.59g (conversely, 1 kilogram is 2.2 lb)
- 1 liter is 0.264 gallon (conversely, 1 gallon is 3.78 liter)
- C = 5/9 (F-32) or F = (9/5 * C)+32
Also, Election Day is November 4 (during the summit), so if you wish to vote, plan on using Early Voting or request an absentee ballot.
Find your way
Paris has an extensive subway coverage (metro) inside the city and sometimes a bit beyond.
There are also regional trains that reach farther suburbs which either start at Paris' main stations (suburban trains) or cross Paris through different stations (RER trains).
Any ride on the metro or bus costs 1,70€ which is one "T+" ticket. If you buy 10 of these tickets at once, it will be cheaper.
When using the regional trains (especially for traveling to/from the airports), you need a specific ticket for that journey.
There are also tourist passes available. http://parisbytrain.com/paris-metro-tickets-what-to-buy/
The summit happens at Porte Maillot, west limit of Paris. Metro line 1 stops there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porte_Maillot_%28Paris_M%C3%A9tro%29
RATP is responsible of most of Paris' transportation system: http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_5000/accueil/
PDF with maps and tickets information: http://www.ratp.fr/en/upload/docs/application/pdf/2014-08/paris_public_transport.pdf
Taxis are available but quite expensive and may not accept credit card.
Uber is available in Paris and may be the cheapest option if you want to be driven somewhere.
Do not drive your own car in Paris. Really, don't.
General directions informations in Paris
The city of Paris itself is divided into 20 districts ("arrondissements"). Places named "Porte de <something>" are located at the limits of the city, more or less where the road ring ("boulevard périphérique") is.
Suburbs cover a much larger area than the city of Paris itself.
You'll most likely land at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG), north of Paris, if traveling on an intercontinental flight.
Directions to Paris: take the RER B train. All RER B trains leaving CDG go to Paris. If going to Porte Maillot, where the summit takes place, get off the train at the Châtelet station and board the metro line 1 heading to La Défense.
Alternative: take the "car Air France" coach that takes you directly from CDG to Porte Maillot: http://www.lescarsairfrance.com/en/roissy-cdg-shuttle-bus.html
The average price for a Taxi (from the Airport to the city center) is about 80€, so it's quite expensive.
Uber has fixed rates from Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) to the venue; UberX to the venue is listed as fixed-rate 45€. (https://www.uber.com/cities/paris)
If you arrive on an intra-Europe flight, it's also possible that you land at Orly airport (ORY), south of Paris.
Directions to Paris: take the "Orlybus" bus to go to Denfert Rochereau where you can transfer to RER B. If going to Porte Maillot, take RER B heading to CDG airport or Mitry-Claye and get off at Châtelet station where you can board the metro line 1 heading to La Défense.
Alternative (a bit more expensive): take the Orlyval (automatic train) going to Antony, where you can transfer to RER B as well (then the same directions apply).
There are bicycles available throughout the city almost for free. They are called "Velib"s (as in Velo/bicycle Libre/Free).
You need to buy a ticket to access the service (1-day or 7-days available). Then you can pick up a bicycle at any Velib station, use it for up to 30 minutes for free, and drop it off at any station.
More information as well as a stations map are available at http://en.velib.paris.fr/
People in France speak... French, and are not known to be the best English speakers in the world.
In the most touristic places, you should be able to find people ready to help in English, but generally don't expect random people on the street to speak fluently.
Paris is a safe city if you follow some basic rules.
Some pickpocket act in touristic places and subway, do not "over" expose value objects in crowded places, do not leave your bags unattended, wallet visible, beware when it's crowded and do not answer or give money to young people pretending asking for a survey or signatures.
Do not hesitate to politely say "non merci" ("no thanks").
- Breakfast: around 5-10 euros
- Lunch daily meal: around 9-15 euros
- Dinner: around 20-40 euros
This is not mandatory in France for a restaurant to propose a vegetarian meal. That said, all restaurants have the obligation to place their menus outside of the restaurant with the prices so everyone can look at a mention called 'Végétarien' if proposed or gently ask for "avez-vous un menu végétarien ?" ("do you have a vegeterian menu ?")
The best option for this kind of request is still to look at some websites like TripAdvisor which proposes a Vegetarian option when searching for a restaurant. Be careful with that again, the information could be incorrect. Double-check there anyway, especially because many people don't know what vegetarian nor vegan means (i.e. they think it's OK to eat fish or shrimps).
If you are vegan, please triple-check because most of the restaurants can propose vegetarian food but not vegan.
The Event team are kind enough to organize Kosher meals for conference - but that does not mean you have to starve.
You can find a good list of Kosher restaurants in Paris - here
Many shops are closed on Sundays or outside of working hours.
Really you need to know ? :)
Most known in and around Paris
- Eiffel Tower
- Louvre Museum
- Champs-Elysees street and Arc de Triomphe
- Notre-Dame-de-Paris cathedral
- Versailles castle (10 km from Paris)
- Disneyland Paris (20 km from Paris) but is smaller scale than in the US
- Science City A great interactive science museum for kids 3+ (and grown ups too)
- Paris-St-Germain football club
- Paris-St-Germain handball club ( ;-) )
- Rolland-Garros tennis court
Traveling the rest of France and Europe - if you plan a bit of tourism as well
Paris' airports have a large number of flights to everywhere in Europe and major far cities in France.
It's also easy to travel by train (often TGV - high speed train) to a number of French cities, as well as to UK (London), Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, parts of Germany, and even Spain and Italy.
Note that once you are allowed entry in France (either with a visa or visa on arrival), you are actually allowed entry in the Schengen area. The Schengen area covers a large part of Europe (with the main exclusion of UK) and means no border control when traveling between its countries. You can easily plan for a stop over in Spain, Italy or elsewhere on your way in or out. Just make sure you have your passport with you when travelling in Schengen Europe even if not practically required to cross borders.
Traveling by rail outside France
Eurail passes can only be bought outside Europe. Last date to get it delivered (from UTAH or NJ) is Friday 24.