Taxi Taxi … !

If you have ever stood in the rain at 6pm on a Paris sidewalk trying to hail a taxi, you’re going to jump up and down after having read this .. France’s Minister of Interior, the bespectacled and almost always pants-suited, Michèlle Alliot-Marie, is transforming France’s legislation for taxis. Yes, there are laws in this […]

If you have ever stood in the rain at 6pm on a Paris sidewalk trying to hail a taxi, you’re going to jump up and down after having read this ..

France’s Minister of Interior, the bespectacled and almost always pants-suited, Michèlle Alliot-Marie, is transforming France’s legislation for taxis. Yes, there are laws in this country for everything — even the weight of the crusty baguette can be only so many ounces or grams!

So, if you’ve ever stood in the rain etc … you will know that one can never find a taxi in Paris when you need one, and when you are lucky enough to identify a car approaching in bumper-to-bumper traffic as a taxi, then you can *never* tell whether it’s free. This is a situation Madame Alliot-Marie, bless her soul, is now going to fix.

From the beginning of 2009, all taxis will have to be clearly marked as such. This means their roofs and doors will have to be of a certain colour; blue, white and red perhaps like the French flag. The roofs and doors would not have to be spray-painted, but will be covered in a removable water-resistant paper, something rather like wall-paper. Therefore, a driver can rip the paper off when he wants to use his car when off-duty.

The current far-too-small roof indicator that, when red, shows is not free, will also have to be made much much larger.

The meter inside the car – and don’t they tick up the cents fast? will also have to be changed. The new ones will automatically provide a detailed check (bill). And speaking about the check, there will be a fixed charge for taxis going and coming from Charles de Gaulle airport at Roissy, 15 miles (23 kms) from Paris. Today, a taxi to Charles de Gaulle will easily take 70/80 ($110/125; ₤55/64) off one, and then there is still the tip.

Another change Madame Alliot-Marie envisages is that there will be a lane for taxis all the way from the airport to Paris. Unless you set off for the airport before 7am and return from the airport after 10pm, you have a sit in the taxi that can easily be for more than an hour.

Paris is also going to get more taxis. There are now 15,000 taxis in the capital and the number will be increased by 5,000 with a first 1,500 new ones by the end of this year. One wonders with the price of a barrel of oil being high as it is, who in his right mind would choose taxiing as a profession. Coming home from London a couple of weeks ago, a young man, taxiing for just two months, told me that it cost him 15,000 ($24,000//12,000) for a licence and insurance. This was, by the way, a really nice driver – he not only asked me whether I have a favourite route to my apartment, but we chatted all of the way. (Journalists always say that if they want to know what’s going on in a country, they only have to ask a taxi driver.)

So, the next time you’re in Paris, you’ll sure find a taxi easily …

Did you know there are special taxi *police* in France. They are called ‘boers’, pronounced *beau-air*. The name comes from – yes, you’ve guessed correctly – the Anglo-Boer War. The French were great supporters of the Afrikaners, this tiny little nation, who had taken on the mighty British Empire and so they believed that the Boer tracker had no equal. The taxi ‘boer’ is out night and day and they make about 1000 arrest annually.

As for the French support of the Afrika
ner — all I can say is: how that cookie crumbled!

A London cab.

Do you know they can turn on a sixpence.

Now, what’s a sixpence?

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

3 Responses to “Taxi Taxi … !”

  1. 3
    Jo Says:

    Here we say turn on a dime Marilyn. Being a Brit from way back, I obviously know what a sixpence is/was.

    4,000 is a lot of books, I thought I was doing well with the best part of 2,000. There was a champion on Jeopardy ( an extremely popular quiz programme) who’s dad had 30,000 books. We figured it out, you can’t read that many.

    By the way, that’s another reason I’m glad I drive. In fact these days our car is in an underground garage and we go to the grocery store which also has an underground garage. No waiting in the rain, sleet, snow or anything else. Of course if we want to go to the liquor store, its another story.

  2. 2
    Anonymous Says:

    I’ve often stood in the rain trying to hail a taxi, so I’m really happy to learn they’re going to try to solve the problem in Paris. London cabs are of course so easy to spot.
    Catherine Modin

  3. 1
    Satima Flavell Says:

    Hi Marilyn! Nice compliments on your front page! You do write a very enjoyable blog. I always like your snippets about life in Paris.

    BTW, how do you manage to keep 4,000 books in your apartment? I have less than 1,000 and they take up all the walls of my office with more in the bedroom. Every time I move I get rid of some, but within a year I am back to about the same number. I have a theory that I move everytime the books reach a critical mass. However, I always regret getting rid of books and wish I hadn’t, usually within a week of moving!

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