If there is one thing that I think Melbourne has over Paris, it is after-hours transportation.
When the last trams have come and gone, Melbournians don’t fret or fuss – they know that finding a taxi on the street is quite easy, and in a pinch, they can always call one and be picked up within a relatively short timeframe.
They also know that irrespective of one’s level of intoxication, as long as you can mumble, slur, perform sign language or adequately operate maps on your iPhone to convey your destination, the cabbie will accept the fare, no questions asked.
And if by terrible chance, your tipsy hiccups should take a turn for the worse and there is a see-your-dinner-again situation, the driver (whilst he won’t exactly be thanking you) will simply add $60 to your fare and call it even.
Not so in Paris.
It can be difficult to say the least, to hail a cab on the street in Paris. There is a rather confusing lack of obvious distinction between the lights on a cab that is or isn’t available, and certain rules about taxi zones apply.
Calling a taxi company is also no guarantee that a car will actually show up to your location, anytime between now and next week. A handy work-around in this situation is to have a prepaid corporate taxi account (and there’s always one in the group who has the mystical pin code – ask around), which at the time works like magic – but on Monday morning seems a little ill advised.
If, by some miracle you do manage to flag down a cab, there is still no guarantee that you will be accepted as passengers. No vomit-surcharge exists, as such, it becomes very much a test of one’s acting skills (if you happen to be the intoxicated party) and of your companions art of distraction techniques. More than once I’ve been the latter, and spent a tense twenty minutes nervously chattering away in terrible broken French trying to keep the driver’s attention off my rather under-the-weather companion.
But, often you are not so lucky and the cab will simply refuse to take you. And then you find you and your amis wandering the four kilometres, way too close to the Périphérique, between Porte de la Villette and Porte de Saint-Ouen at 3am. But that’s another story.