Eiffel tower

8 of the Best Apps to Download Before Visiting Paris

By Lani Fried Android, iOSNo Comments


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We’ll happily admit that sometimes it’s great to get lost on the streets of an old European city. Other times it really isn’t, though, and you just want to know where you’re going and what you’re doing with a minimum of hassle.

Paris is no exception, and despite its popularity with overseas tourists, the city isn’t always easy to get around. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps focused on the French capital that can help out, whether you’re ordering a dish, navigating the metro system, or even waiting for your flight.

We’ve tracked down eight of the best Android and iOS travel apps for Paris, all of which will help you make the most of your time in the City of Lights.

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Paris Aeroport

Flying in or out of Paris? Check out the Paris Aeroport app. Focusing on the two main Parisian airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, it provides flight updates and other information in real time.

You can search for and monitor flights, and get notified about flight delays and unusual events. You’re also able to book parking in advance, reserve foreign currencies, and get information about airport services including entertainment options.

Filters are available based on the type of trip you’re taking, including family or business travelers, transit passengers, and unaccompanied minors. The app also has some general tourist features, including the ability to buy tickets to the Palace of Versailles or a Paris Museum Pass.

iOS and Android; free

Woman in Paris

Paris Travel Guide

The best thing about Paris Travel Guide is its useful mishmash of features. On the most basic level, you can find your location on a user-friendly map, identify nearby attractions such as restaurants or monuments, and navigate to various sites. What really makes it unique, however, is the personalization.

The app lets you create your own lists such as “favorite restaurants,” “best museums,” or “favorite streets.” You can save locations to these lists, and add your own notes about each one, letting you record a digital story of your time in Paris if you wish.

When you view a location, the app also provides a helpful breakdown of relevant information. This includes things like Wikipedia articles, popular photos of the site, and a list of nearby accommodation with the option to check room availability. 

iOS and Android; free

Indie Guides Paris

Paris can feel like tourist hell at times, especially in the summer months (or anywhere near the Mona Lisa), but there’s a whole world outside of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

Indie Guides Paris helps you discover this other side of the city and focuses on underground and alternative cultural spots, including galleries, bars, restaurants, and shops.

The app was created by Anne Le Gal, a journalist and manager of a DIY label, and is a delight for anyone who wants to escape the usual tourist traps. Points of interest are plotted on a map, and you can drill down to find detailed descriptions of the attractions, including upcoming events hosted there.

There’s also an in-app playlist to get a glimpse of the Parisian indie music scene, plus additional resources for finding out about special events. If you’re looking to discover some of the more hidden parts of Paris, this app is a great place to start.

iOS and Android; free

Sacré-Cœur

Paris Metro Map & Routes

There are many Paris metro apps, but this is one of the best. As with most of the others you get a comprehensive metro map, but that’s just the beginning.

The route planner suggests various options along with their predicted journey times, and includes alternative modes of transportation such as Uber. You can save favorite routes and even review metro updates on Twitter via an in-app feed.

Paying $3.99 (iOS) or $4.49 (Android) for the Premium version lets you see the first and last train times, find out which carriage will be nearest the platform exit at your chosen station, or remove ads. For $8.99/$9.99, you get all of the above.

iOS and Android; free or up to $9.99 for various features and removal of ads

Heetch

This French ridesharing app is a direct competitor to Uber. As with other ridesharing apps, you share your location, get matched with a driver, get dropped off, and rate the experience. There are some benefits to choosing Heetch, however.

For one, you can pay with credit card or cash, while Uber in Paris is card-only. The rates also tend to be cheaper than those found on Uber, and the company only uses professional drivers.

With a fairly recent funding boost, Heetch is looking to take on a bigger market share, and is a breath of fresh air from Uber’s market dominance. Why not try a local and French alternative? Heetch is currently also available in Lyon, Lille, Nice, Milan, and Stockholm.

iOS and Android; free

Montmartre path

TheFork

You can approach TheFork (or LaFourchette in French) in two different ways. First, if you’re interested in making a restaurant reservation, you can certainly do that. The app lets you see availability and reserve tables at restaurants in your area, and includes exclusive offers and discounts.

If you’re not interested in making a reservation, TheFork is still a great discovery tool. Like many other food apps, you can check out useful information on nearby restaurants — ratings, reviews, photos, and location details.

One notable feature is the “chef’s suggestion” panel, which provides a list of recommended starters, main courses, and desserts. This is a wonderful bonus for travelers in Paris, who may crave some extra insight into the cuisine.

The app is also available in several other European cities, including Lyon, Lausanne, Geneve, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, and Brussels.

iOS and Android; free

DuckTheLine

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of seeing major attractions in Paris is the endless lines. Sure, you want to climb the stairs of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame — but, ugh, that wait. With DuckTheLine, you can spend less time standing around and more time doing interesting stuff.

When you plan to visit a touristy location (or any location with a long line, really), you simply open up the app. DuckTheLine uses your GPS location to determine which lines you can join, estimates your wait time, and lets you take your virtual place.

When your time draws near, the app will let you know, and give you a time by which you need to return to the entry point. You don’t need to stay in the line the whole time — you can visit a cafe, or take a walk — and just head back to show your phone or scan a QR code when the wait is almost up.

For now, DuckTheLine is used with certain French attractions and retail locations, and there’s even a pilot program in Carrefour grocery stores. The app deliberately doesn’t work unless you’re actually near the line in question; in other words, you can’t be across town and check out wait times for the Notre-Dame.

iOS and Android; free

Google Translate

Parisians aren’t renowned for being especially tolerant of visitors who don’t at least attempt to speak a little French while they’re there.

If you aren’t fluent already, be sure to download Google Translate, which lets you translate and interpret French in a variety of ways. The app lets you type in French words and phrases and change them into English (or other languages), listen to pronunciation, and translate written text via the phone camera.

There’s also a “Conversation” mode, which technically enables you to hold a conversation with someone who is speaking French, although it’s pretty awkward in practice. You can save translations of phrases you regularly use, and download a language pack for offline use. 

We talked about Google Translate for travelers in detail here, and other good translation apps here.

iOS and Android; free


Images via  skeeze on Pixabay (Eiffel tower), vydumka on Pixabay (girl in Paris), Free-Photos on Pixabay (Sacré-Cœur), and edmondlafoto on Pixabay (Montmartre path).

About the Author
Lani Fried

Lani Fried

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Lani Fried is a teacher, software professional, and the founder of Gynopedia. She’s a big nerd about travel, technology, books, history, and food.

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