Most tourists arrive by one of two airports of Paris. Orly airport is in the South and the other one, Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle, in the North. A third one, Beauvais, distant of about 80 kms from Paris, is dedicated for low-cost compagnies. There are then several ways to join the capital.
Taxis. Rather expensive, as airports are far, they are faster than
the public transports, except, naturally in the rush hours when the traffic
jams can be important around Paris. The fare is around
50-70 €. Taxis accept up to three persons and sometimes a fourth one on the
front seat, but not always. From Beauvais Airport, taxi is not an option.
See the taxis section.
Public transport. There are several buses and suburban trains (RER) linking Paris with airports and with stops in several spots in the city. According to your final destination, you will choose the RATP buses, Air France shuttles, Jetbus, or the RER. See the map of all the public transports on the site of Airport of Paris. The fare is about 10.90 € for RER or buses and 50-70 € for Orlyval. RER is more reliable. Compagnies using Beauvais Airport propose an express bus service. The trip takes about one hour.
Paris has six major train stations. The Western South lines arrive at the station "Montparnasse", East lines at the "Gare de l'Est", North lines at the "Gare du Nord" and the Southeast lines at the "Gare de Lyon". "Gare Saint Lazare" handles traffic for Normandy. The national SNCF company operates all train lines in France. So every ticket can be bought in every train station. Most travel agency sell train ticket too.
Unless you really need to travel around, that is really not a good idea to
come in Paris by car. Traffic jams, even outside rush hours, Bus lines, aggressiveness
of the other motorists, big difficulty to park, fines, insane parkings rates
make driving in Paris a nightmare.
If driving is unavoidable, here are some tips :
The borders of Paris are bounded by two main trunk roads : the beltway,
"peripherique" and the "Boulevards des Marechaux".
The first one is a big highway, 32 km long, from two to four lines each way. It marks the limits of Paris, linking city doors. The speed is limited to 80 kph and there is no traffic lights. Remember that the priority is to the right (otherwise the Parisians will recall you very fast) so priority goes to ENTERING cars. For that reason, don't stay on the right line. All exits are on the right-hand side. The direction of rotation can be indicated, before entering, in two manners : either "peripherique nord" (north ring road) or "peripherique ouest" (western ring road), for example, what is rather clear if you know where you are and where you go, or by "peripherique interieur" (internal ring road) or "peripherique exterieur" (outside ring road). And that needs a small explanation :
The internal and outside ring peripherals indicate the same road. The internal ring peripheral is the portion which is the closest of Paris (the one that turns clockwise) while the outside ring peripheral indicates the other direction (counterclockwise). So before undertaking on the ring peripheral, it is good to know in which direction one should turn to avoid a full rotation. It is always possible to go out next door and to make a U turn.
Inner Paris, driving and parking can be really difficult. To park requires luck and in some districts miss public parkings. Parking is charged almost everywhere and fines are quick to come. It is a good source of incomes for the City. A car parked in a forbiden place can be town away and it can be very very fast and very very expensive ! Street parking is free between 7pm and 9am, on Sundays and on public holidays. Most places are free during August, but not all, check on parking meters.
Due to constant vandalism by thieves, parking meters don't accept cash anymore. You have to pay by "Moneo" card or buy a parking card in "bureaux de tabac" (tobacconists). In the same places you will find the "timbre amende" (fine stamp) to pay the fines !