If you’ve poked around on this site enough, you’ve no doubt seen that we strongly advise most people not to drive in Paris. You’ll certainly see lots of cars zigging and zagging their way around the city, but those are locals who know their way around and know the local driving laws. You? You’re not familiar with either one, most likely, and trying to figure either out can put a damper on any vacation.
But if you think you absolutely must have a car in Paris, then there’s another issue you’ll need to deal with after sorting out navigation and driving laws – parking. Finding parking in Paris can be one of those exercises in frustration that might seem like it would make a funny story later, but in reality is just frustrating.
There are some ways to find parking in Paris, however, if you know where to look, or do your research in advance, or (ideally) both. Here are two ways to help you find Paris parking, as well as some things you need to know about parking a car in Paris.
Two Ways to Find Something Other than Street Parking in Paris
Book Hotels That Have Parking
This is probably the easiest way to make sure you’ve got parking that’s secure and close to where you’re staying, and it’s easy to learn about in advance of your arrival. Most hotel booking sites these days will tell you whether a hotel has parking as an option (if the site doesn’t include that information, you might want to try another site altogether), and it should give you details on the parking, too. Is it in a garage? Is it in a gated lot? What’s the daily rate? How far is it from your hotel? Note that in many cases a hotel’s designated parking lot will be quite small, so you may need to reserve a parking space in advance just like you would a room – and hope there’s vacancy for both you and your car.
>> Search for hotels in Paris that have parking
Use Underground Parking Lots
While street parking in Paris is relatively inexpensive, it can also be difficult to find – especially if you’re trying to find a parking place near your hotel. One great alternative is to park in one of Paris’ underground car parks. You can look up the location of the one closest to where you’re staying, and some underground parking lots in Paris even offer discounts if you stay for a few days. What’s more, because these underground lots are monitored by both closed-circuit cameras and also people who are on staff on site, leaving your car in an underground parking lot in Paris may be significantly safer than parking it on the street. And you can even reserve a space in Paris’ underground car parks online ahead of time.
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Things to Know About Parking in Paris
Street Parking in Paris
If you’d prefer to go with street parking in Paris, you should know that (depending on where you are in the city) you may end up paying more per hour on the street than in a garage – but there are times when street parking is completely free. When you need to pay for street parking, however, you can’t use coins in the meters – so you have to be prepared with the proper card before you find that perfect parking space. Get a “Paris Carte” at any tobacco shop (you can get them in denominations of either €10 or €30), and you’ll use that card in the parking meters. Meters will spit out a ticket that you’ll put in plain sight on your dashboard, visible from the outside.
What you’ll pay for your parking space varies depending on where you are in the city. In the center, you’ll pay about €3 per hour, while further out the hourly rate goes down to €1. And you should know that street parking during paying hours is limited to two hour stints – as is the case in many places, they don’t like it when people “feed the meter.”
So, when is street parking in Paris free? Generally speaking, the hours when you have to pay are Monday-Saturday, 9am-7pm. Other than that, street parking is free. It’s also free on public holidays, and in August (when so much of the city goes on vacation elsewhere) there are certain streets that have free parking for the whole month. You’ll know which ones they are by the yellow sticker on the parking meters.
Underground Parking Garages in Paris
The underground lots in Paris are open 24/7, and if you haven’t located one online before you left home you’ll want to be on the lookout for blue square signs with a big white P on them (the usual “parking” indicators). Luckily for visitors, they tend to be common in places that are frequented by tourists – so as long as you’re not venturing out into the Parisian hinterlands you should be able to find one reasonably close to where you want to be.
As noted above, most underground garages offer discounted rates if you stay for longer than 24 hours, but rates in general can vary depending on where you are in the city. You might find hourly rates starting at €2.50, and pay more than €20 for 12-24 hours, if you’re in the city center. But if you’re planning to leave your car in the garage for most of your stay in Paris, only getting it out at the end to drive on to your next destination, then ask about discounts for longer stays.
And if you’d like to arrive in Paris with all your ducks truly in a row, you can buy a Parking CityPass before you even leave home – reserving a spot in a garage that’s in the ideal location for you.
>> Here’s more information about underground parking vs. street parking in Paris
>> Here are tips on parking in Paris from the official Paris Visitors Center website