France has an excellent public transportation system, and many affordable options are available for travel to cities in France and in other European countries.

Public transportation

Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Toulouse and Paris all have extensive subway systems. Buses and streetcars also serve these and most other cities in France.

The intricate Paris metro (subway) is the best way to get around the capital. Supplemented by the RER light-rail network, the system serves Paris and its suburbs up to 30 km (about 19 miles) from the city.

 

Bicycles

Most French cities maintain a self-service system of bicycle rentals. The system is easy to use, and rentals are cheap. However, you will usually need a credit or debit card with an embedded microchip to rent a bicycle on-site.

 

Taxi

Taxi fares are strictly regulated in France but are relatively expensive by international standards. All licensed taxis are equipped with meters. If you don’t see a meter, the vehicle is operating illegally, so don’t get in!

Although Uber has been subject to some controversy in France, it is also used, albeit less widely than in the U.S. It is arguably most used in Paris.

 

Train

France has one of the best rail networks in the world, in part thanks to the TGV, or high-speed train, which is run by the SNCF, the French national railroad company.  It is easy to travel from city to city, even over long distances. You’ll spend just four hours travelling about a thousand kilometers from Marseille, at the southern end of France, to Lille, in the north. By TGV, Paris is only an hour from Lille and Orléans; two hours from Lyon, Nantes, Poitiers, Rennes and Dijon; and three hours from Marseille, Montpellier and La Rochelle.

It also takes just three hours to travel from Paris to London (Eurostar train) or to Amsterdam (Thalys train).

SNCF grants major discounts for young people under 26, provided they buy a €50 membership card, called “Carte 12-25” (http://www.voyages-sncf.com/). Booking in advance can also lead to significant savings on rail fares, and certain routes often have special deals. You can also get a pass called “Eurail” that enables you to travel throughout Europe at a very reasonable rate. This pass offers multiple options.

 

Car

France’s roads and highways are also excellent. By taking scenic secondary roads, you can discover the natural beauty and charm of rural France.

You can use your U.S. driver’s license in France. City speed limits are 30, 40, or 50 km/h; 90 km/h on national routes; and 130 km/h on the autoroute (highway) system. All motor vehicles must be insured.

 

Plane

Numerous international air carriers serve major French airports, making it easy to reach any destination around the globe. Low-cost flights between many European destinations are not too difficult to find through airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair and airberlin, to name just a few.

Other examples of French websites that can help you find inexpensive flights are www.opodo.frwww.voyages-sncf.fr, and http://www.liligo.fr.