More Paris Taxi Talk

We were going to walk to the La Defense Metro stop today from the Peogeot Sodexa offices where we dropped off our leased car, but when the receptionist offered to call us a cab, we decided to enjoy the rare cab ride – and do a little research! The cab arrived within ten minutes with 6.50 Euros already posted on the meter (La Defense is outside of Paris city limits which places us automatically in the B zone – which is a more expensive rate than the A zone. If it had been night time outside the Paris peripherique, we would have slipped into the C zone. Not to be confused with any other zones by the same name.)
Our driver seemed like an amiable fellow, so I thought I’d ask him for some advice for tourists trying to catch cabs in and around Paris.
He was kind enough to confirm what I had learned in the past few weeks – if the top part of the taxi light is completelly illuminated, it means that the cab is availabe – sort of. “Sometimes a taxi light is lit, but if the driver doesn’t feel like picking you up, he won’t.” If any of the three little A, B or C lights are lit, he definitely won’t pick you up because he already has a fare.
“The kind of passenger we’re looking for is one with suitcases. If you have suitcases, you’re probably going to the airport. And that’s where we want to go.”
“so I can’t just flag down a taxi?”
“I have to wait at a taxi stand.”
“Right. If a driver is waiting at a taxi stand, he probably has to take you.”
“How many taxi drivers are there in Paris.”
“16,000. Too many.”
“How long have you been driving a cab”
“Too long. I’m going to retire in six months.”
“It seems awfully hard to catch a cab in Paris. We came out of the Musee d’Orsay a few weeks ago. It was about 8 pm and we were just too tired to walk or take the Metro.”
“There’s a cab stand right outside the museum.”
“I know – on the one way quai – going the wrong way. Not only that, it was raining and no cabs were stopping.”
“I never stop at cab stands. I wait for phone calls. You never know who you’re going to get if you stop at a stand. A lot of cab drivers don’t bother stopping at cab stands. Calls are better. You have regular customers. Better people. Clean people.”
“What percentage of cab drivers don’t bother stopping at cab stands?”
“A lot, I’d say. Maybe most of them.”
“Guess I’d be better off calling for cab on my cell phone – that is, if I had one, like everyone else does.”
“Do you like your job well enough?”
“No, driving in Paris is hard.”
“In what way, the stress?”
“There’s too much traffic and not enough work. Out of ten hours in a day, I’m only working five hours.”
(Wouldn’t you have more customers if you stopped at cab stands once in a while – or if cabs picked up people when they flagged them down? I wanted to ask this question – but it seemed pointless.)
I decided next time I go to the museum I’ll bring two large suitcases with me with airport baggage tags attached.
I appreciated our driver taking the time to tell me in a friendly manner about the intricacies of taking taxis – he also added that the best time to catch a cab is after the early morning rush hour up until 5 pm. 8 pm is the worst time to try to catch a cab – he warned me. The cab ride from La Defense to Miromesnil Metro stop cost us 18 Euros and change plus a tip. If we had taken the Metro, the same trip would have cost 2.80. Let’s face it. Anyone way, you slice it, taking a cab in Paris is a real luxury – but you better have taken a bath.