Legend has it, once upon a time people used printed maps when travelling to a new city. Forget about GPS and asking Siri where you are, there was a time when if you didn’t know the name of the street you were on, your only hope was asking a kind stranger for directions. Such barbaric times!
Thankfully, nowadays you can use your own data almost everywhere in Europe, free of charge, making access to the all-knowing internet that much easier. Want to live like a local Parisian for a weekend or more? Our very own Jack, who’s been managing our Hosts in Paris for the past year, has put together a list of the best apps for navigating Paris on Google’s Play store – or App Store, we don’t discriminate!
Read on for the top 10 ninja-level apps that you need to download to make sure you’re all covered for your French holiday.
1. Où sont les toilettes?
Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. You have breakfast at your hotel, pack the stuff you’re going to need for the day and excitedly start walking around the marvellous city that is Paris. That is, until your bladder starts screaming for attention and you have no idea where you can find a toilet. Well, lucky for you, this app pinpoints the public restrooms closest to you, all so you don’t have to buy something to use a Starbucks bathroom.
If it’s your last day in a city and you want to make the most of it before you catch your flight but after you’ve checked out of your hotel or Airbnb, you certainly don’t want to lug your luggage around. Here comes Stasher to the rescue! They connect tourists with independent businesses and hotels that have a little extra space to store bags. The best part is, they have luggage storage locations near all major tourist attractions and transport hubs, so you’re bound to find one that suits your needs. You book though the website, pay online, then simply drop your bags off. It costs 6€or 24 hours and your bag is insured for up to 750€.
Check them out here.
Restaurants and Recommendations
3. Le Fooding
Foodies, rejoice! No more disappointing meals served by grumpy waiters, no more obsessively scouring the internet for the best restaurant for your romantic dinner. This app is every foodie’s dream come true. Looking for a nice spot to grab a bite? No matter where you are in the city, you can just check on the map the recommended restaurants around you. And the best part is, the Fooding Guide is written by locals, so you can be sure their suggestions will take you somewhere exciting where you’ll be dining with locals.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can even use the ‘chance’ feature – shake your phone and the app will give you a surprise suggestion. Escargot, anyone?
4. La Fourchette
Need to find a nice restaurant around you but don’t want to be ripped off? App La Fourchette, aka the Fork, not only helps you find places around you, but also provides offers of up to 50% off when booking through the app. For the TripaAdvisor fans, each option comes with a link to the Tripadvisor account as well as the menu, so you can be sure you are making the right choice.
5. Mister Good Beer
Ask anyone who’s been to Paris at least once and 8 out of 10 people will mention how drinks in the City of Love are so expensive you’d better go to the local supermarket and grab yourself a couple of cans. If you still want to have a night out but don’t want to break your bank, this app is going to make your day or night in this case! You select a budget and the app locates the cheapest pints in town, taking into account happy hours and deals.
Paris has one of the most connected train and metro networks in the world, but looking at a transit map can be a bit daunting. What is the app that every Parisian religiously uses every day to find their way through this maze, you ask? RATP, the public transport company’s official app, where you find the best route to your destinations as well as stations close to you so you won’t have to aimlessly walk for miles. The best part? It also has detailed info on trains to nearby cities, perfect for a half day trip from Paris!
Trains are great but, let’s be honest when the sun’s out the last thing you want to do is hide in a smelly, claustrophobic train carriage. Lucky for you, following in the footsteps of cities like Amsterdam, Paris has been building its own cycling network called Velib’, a combination of the words vélo (bicycle) and liberté (freedom) – how cool is that? The app shows you in real-time your nearest station and how many bikes are currently available. The service is also incredibly accessible, a one-day pass will only set you back 1.70€! Time to explore the city from a different perspective.
Forget about Uber’s algorithm messing up your late-night trips. French taxi app Heetch only operates between 8pm and 6am so that the price remains standard for every journey. This app is perfect for those who want to make the most of their time in Paris and planning on a few late nights in the city without having to worry about a convoluted journey home.
Live like a local
The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie, the Centre Pompidou, Musée de Art Décoratifs, National Museum of Modern Art – when in Paris, you’ll be spoiled for choices of where to get your art fix from. Unless you have a whole month to visit them all, you’re going to be hard pressed to decide where to go and what is worth visiting. This is where Artips comes in, with a fun round-up of the 10 essential pieces of art to visit at each Paris museum. Dip in and out of an art gallery and feel like you’ve seen all the best bits without having had to spend a whole day surrounded by statues (unless that’s your thing!)
10. Spotted by Locals
If you like to explore beyond the main tourist spots and think recommendations by locals are a godsend, this app is going to rock your world. Scroll through the insider advice from Parisian journalists who really know Paris like their pockets. From tourist traps to avoid to the best underground clubs, Spotted by Locals is definitely worth the couple of pounds you will pay for it.
11. Runnin’ City
Runnin’City was designed for those who want to take a bit of time out of their busy schedule to discover unknown cities, and are also looking to keep fit. The app provides the user with all the usual useful information, such as average speed, total distance and calories burnt, but the focus is on enjoying the sights around you and getting the most out of your run.
Simply pop on your running shoes, pop in your headphones and get running!
The best bit? When you walk past a famous sight you’ll get all the must-know info about the monuments, neighbourhoods and parks in the City of Light!