Whether you’re coming to Paris for the week or staying for the whole year, smartphone apps are a must for getting around and enjoying Paris. Here’s a list of 32 iPhone applications to help you make the most of your trip!
1. RATP, 0.79€: The RATP’s app is the official app of the Paris/Ile-de-France metro and rail lines, and it’s probably the most useful app for getting around Paris. Simply plug in your departure time and location and your destination, and the RATP app will tell you the quickest way to get from point A to point B, including the time it will take you to make a transfer or wait for the next bus. The most recent version of this app integrates with Google Maps, so when you arrive, you’ll be able to get oriented and on your way fast. The only feature it’s missing? The map doesn’t tell you what corner to find the bus stop on.
2. Voyages-SNCF, Free: Planning a weekend getaway in France or to neighboring countries? The SNCF has half a dozen free iPhone apps to help you plan your trip. While there’s no one application to do everything, Voyages-SNCF offers one app that will help you reserve your tickets and plan trips, and another that organizes your trip information and allows you to use it as an e-ticket on board. Purchase your tickets with SNCF Voyages-Horaires et Résa, then put your name and confirmation number into Voyages-SNCF Compagnon to board the train and to get real-time information about schedules, delays, and cancellations (and strikes).
4. Pages Jaunes, Free: If there’s an chance you need to find a plumber, a pharmacy, or anything random while you’re out and about, the French Yellow Pages is a free app it can’t hurt to have.
5. Franprix Courses, Free: No matter how hard I try to make a grocery list, I always end up going shopping several times a week to make sure I don’t starve. And when I first moved to Paris, I went hungry for several Sundays, because I didn’t think to go grocery shopping on Saturday night! This app from Franprix, one of the major grocery chains in France, helps you keep track of your grocery list, compare prices, and find the nearest store. Whether you use it to keep track of your grocery shopping or find a place to grab a cheap lunch in between classes, this is a useful app anyone should have.
Staying in Touch
6. Paris Free Wifi, 0.79€: One of several apps that can help you find cafés and restaurants in Paris, this one stores the locations of cafés that offer free wireless access, so you can always find a place to check your email, update your blog, or do some research no matter where you are.
7. Skype, Free: This is probably a no-brainer, but downloading the Skype app on your phone is great for keeping in touch with friends and family back home. If you’re on wifi or have lots of bars, you can log in and use Skype credits to call the US without paying an arm and a leg, or stay logged in on your phone and have your family’s calls to your Skype account come through to your phone. Makes you wonder what people did back in the old days.
8. L’Officiel des Galéries et Musées, Free: This app, in French, lists all of the museums and exhibitions throughout France, providing current information on tickets, artists, and museum hours. You can also use the localization tool to find museums and art exhibits near your current location, ideal for when you take weekend trips or just want to explore the city.
9. Musée du Louvre, Free: This free app takes a long time to download, but we think it’s worth it. The Louvre’s official app provides information and close-up photos on hundreds of works of art in the Louvre, and is available in a dozen languages. Another free (unofficial) app, Louvre Top100, provides detailed instructions on finding the museum’s most famous works of art in its galeries, plus brings the Wikipedia articles to your fingertips. A third app, Louvre Top100 Audio Guide, provides a walking tour of the Louvre in French for 2,39€. All of these apps are available with English versions, and don’t require an internet connection to be used.
12. RadioFrance, Free: If you’d like to improve your aural French skills, the Radio France app allows you to listen to all of its programs through your iPhone for free, and provides hundreds of podcasts for download at no cost. France Inter, France Bleu, and France Musique are other free apps that allow you to listen to French radio stations, while France Culture and France Info provide news and culture programs.
18. Trésors de France, Free: Like L’Officiel des Galeries et Musées, the Trésors de France application brings you lots of historical and cultural information about France’s historic monuments. It even includes satellite maps, historical images, and Wikipedia articles on 10,000 geolocalized historical places and monuments in France.
19. Histoire de France, 0.79€: Whether you’re learning French history for pleasure or for a class, this app has dozens of quizes on different eras of French history, from Astérix to Sarkozy.
20. Opéra National de Paris, Free: The Opéra’s official iPhone app is mostly useful if you’re interested in attending a performance, checking out their calendar, and buying tickets, but lovers of architecture will enjoy the photo gallery of one of the most elegant buildings in Paris.
13. Plan Historique de Paris 1615, 0.79€: If you’re a medievalist at heart, or even if you’re just taking a history class, you’ll like this app, which can show you where you are on a 17th century map of Paris. It integrates with the phone’s GPS technology, so it can show your actual location as of four hundred years ago.
21. Urbacolors, Free: I discovered this app through a friend of a friend, and while it’s definitely a niche product, it’s pretty cool. Urbacolors is an app that helps you locate street art in Paris using the localization tool.
22. Allociné, Free: Allociné.com is the French movie directory, and its app by the same name is the definitive guide to movies currently showing in France. See films currently playing, find cinemas in your neighborhood or close to your current locations, see showtimes and language options (V.F. or V.O), and keep track of what movies are coming out soon.
23. France Télévisions, Free: This application allows you to watch programs on the national French television stations on your iPhone and to check the TV guide for upcoming programming.
24. Le Parisien Sortie, Free: Le Parisien and Aujourd’hui L’Etudiant collaborated on this free app, which provides information on all of the current cultural events and festivals going on in France.
25. L’Internaute Restos, Free: The French equivalent of Yelp, this app allows you to search for nearby restaurants by price or by type of cuisine, view menus, and read customer reviews. If you’re in a touristy area and need a recommendation, this app will help you avoid a less-than-stellar meal.
26. iTranslate, Free: A simple word-to-word translator can help you when you can’t figure out exactly how to say what you want to say.
27. Larousse French Dictionary, 4.99€: Before you rely on the word-to-word translator to give you the meaning you want, look up your words in a good French langauge dictionary to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings!
28. French Gender, Free or 3,99€: A series of games and tools to help you learn the gender of French nouns more easily. I haven’t personally played this game, but the reviews are great.
29: French Verb Conjugator, 0,79€: Like the Bescherelle, this app has 700 verbs conjugated in 17 different tenses, to help you study for grammar tests or when you’re writing a paper. Another app, called Learn French Verbs, is available from a different developer for 4,99€, and includes games and tricks for learning how to conjugate the different tenses and memorize irregular verbs.
31. Boggle Lite, Free: This game can be played in French as well as English and other languages, and can help you improve your spelling and language skills.
32. French classics, Free: Skip the “Livres classiques” app that sells public domain works for 2,39€ and search directly for the titles you need for your classes in the App store. Dozens, if not hundreds of public domain classics (the ones you’d read in your classes) are available for free and can be read on your iPhone. While it’s not the most ideal screen, it can save you money on book purchases.