2018 Complete guide to useful apps for Paris

Vacation to Paris? Here are the useful phone apps you need, curated by Parisians.

It can be overwhelming to travel to a new country, especially if you don’t speak the language very well… or at all.

But – joy of joys – technology really has your back.

Most of you will be traveling with data plans, so Paris apps are your friend. But there are so many to sort through… how could you know which ones are actually good and useful?

Since we live in Paris and have an insider insight into what’s useful, what works, and what to skip, we’re here to help!

From language to currency to transport, this is your 2018 Complete guide to useful apps for Paris.

Complete guide useful apps for Paris

You’ll find information on each of these 20 apps including

  • price
  • whether it can be used offline (without internet connection)
  • description
  • download links

You’ve got apps for helping you find your way, for eating, for fun, for culture, for speaking and understanding French, and lots more. Oh, and all these apps are still functioning (unlike some other lists you’ll find, where half the apps are no longer available for download!).

Are we missing any Paris apps? Let us know!

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Postcards

Recommended app: Touchnote

Good for: sending custom photo postcards through snail mail

This is a very cool app. Take a Paris picture, type a message, and send it by real mail to anyone!

It’s true that there’s something special about receiving actual, physical mail. And you can bring that smile to anyone’s face without even having to lift a pen, or remember how to write cursive!

Though your postcards won’t have French stamps on them, Touchnote now lets you put a little tiny map on the back of the postcard, so your friend or loved one can see where you’re sending it from.

Price: App is free. Postcards are about $ 1.50 each to print and mail.

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Touchnote

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Public toilets

Recommended app: Ou Faire Pipi a Paris?

Good for: small bladders

I use this app all the time. There are some 400 self-cleaning public toilets in Paris. But it’s just one of those things… you can never find one when you need it.

This app pinpoints the public restrooms closest to you. As of the last update, it listed about half of the public toilets in Paris – the most ‘strategic’ ones! That is, the ones not along major boulevards (as those are most often out of service or closed).

The app is in French so you’ll need to do a bit of simple translation – but you’ll see the opening times if the toilet is in a facility such as a park or public library.

Don’t worry about your bladder ever again, while exploring the streets of Paris.

Price: $ 1.09

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Bathrooms in Paris

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Nostalgia

Recommended app: Paris Avant/ Paris Then and Now

Good for: going back in time (figuratively, not literally)

This app allows you to compare the Paris you see today with pictures from the beginning of the 20th century.

Some parts of the city seem to have been frozen in time since then… and other parts have seen pretty big changes!

It’s interesting to see the evolution of the shops, the architecture, and even the old store signs in comparison to what’s hanging today.

The app uses GPS to show you pictures of then and now, depending on where you are in the city. It’s quite fun, especially if you pair it with amusing stories from the Paris of yesteryear, like on this very entertaining nighttime tour of the Latin Quarter. Want a bonus? Get 10% off of that tour with the promo code 18APPS. Ya’ welcome.

Price: $ 1.09

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Paris Avant

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Finding Secrets

Recommended app: Secrets de Paris

Good for: finding lesser-known activities in Paris

If you’re looking for the unique, the off-the-beaten-path, the truly Parisian things to do in Paris, this app is a great start!

Not every activity on Secrets de Paris is a winner, but there are enough gems interspersed that it totally makes up for it.

Price: Depends on in-app purchases

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Secrets de Paris

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‘Locals’ activities

Recommended app: Spotted by Locals

Good for: doing as the Parisians do

Real, actual Parisians contribute to writing this app, so you can rest assured they’re giving you the real info.

Information is updated regularly, so you don’t have to worry about heading to a restaurant or bar that no longer exists. And the brand-spanking-new gems will be on there, too!

Spotted by Locals is ‘satisfaction guaranteed’ so if you really don’t like it… you can get your money back. Not a bad deal! But, just saying – you’ll probably like it 🙂

Of course there are plenty of great articles for this kind of thing, too (like this one on alternative activities if the Eiffel Tower is sold out – or if you don’t feel like being a tourist – or this one on unique and original rainy day activities in Paris, or this one on what you absolutely must know about Paris if you’re visiting in winter). But sometimes things are easiest on the phone!

Price: $ 3.99

Offline use? Yes

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Spotted by Locals

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Restaurant reviews

Recommended app: TheFork

Good for: eatng, and eating well.

The French highly prefer TheFork (LaFourchette in French) to Yelp for restaurant reviews. So, when in France…

TheFork is great to search by map, address, type of cuisine, budget… it also has a nice homepage to inspire you if you’re not sure where to go! You can read restaurant reviews as well as reserve (at many restaurants) directly through the app.

It’s hard to go wrong with food in Paris, true. But don’t you want the best?

You can even specify type of cuisine, such as vegetarian (though this list is also useful!), Indian, Italian, and so on. Great for picky eaters. (Though, if you’re a VERY picky eater, some custom restaurant recommendations and reservations might be what you need…).

Have you heard terrible things about French servers? Chances are these tales came from people who were unfortunately underinformed about how things work in France. I highly recommed you have a look at these essential tips on French restaurant etiquette to be sure you have the best dining experiences possible during your trip!

Price: Free

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

TheFork

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Sunset

Recommended app: Sunrise Sunset Lite

Good for: timing your photos and/or romantic moments

Want to known when the famed photography “golden hour” is for your dramatic Paris photos?

Want to know the perfect time to climb the Eiffel tower for the full effect?

Want to know if it will be dark by the time your tour is finished?

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how often I use this app. It has counteless uses, and is very simple to use. Choose your location (or let the app find you), select the date, and get details on sunrise & sunset times, as well as total daylight time, solar noon, dawn, and dusk.

Price: Free

Offline use? Yes

Get it here:
iPhone
Android (a different app, slightly more clunky but the idea is the same)

Sunrise sunset

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Map & transportation help

Recommended app: Citymapper

Good for: detailed help planning transportation routes, offline map

Citymapper gives you a number of different options of public transport that will get you where you need to go: metro (typically several routes), bus, walking, taxi, and bike journey time. You even get an estimated calorie count on the bike journey, if you’re into tracking that sort of thing!

The ETAs given are typically pretty accurate since typically delays (metro disruption, car traffic) are updated in real-time. This is one way that Citymapper is better than Google Maps. I love Google maps, but things like strikes and station closures aren’t taken into account in the iteraries.

If you use Citymapper to plan your metro rides, it will even tell you which train car you should get on, for maximum effeciency. We Parisians pride ourselves on knowing just which metro car to get on to be closest to the exit we need… and with this app you can be just like us!

The price estimates are a nice touch, as well – pretty cool stuff! The metro system in general is fairly intuitive, but this app is a great hand-holding help to learn how to get around Paris.

Price: Free

Offline use? Not for travel planning (yes for offline map)

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Citymapper

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Food Markets

Recommended app: Marchés de Paris

Good for: cooking a fresh meal at your Airbnb

Parisian food markets are a thing to see. They’re like farmers markets while being both more extravagant (as only the French can do) and more banal. Why banal? Because they’re all around the city, every day of the week.

Roving markets are some of the best to go to because you often see the lowest prices while still having great quality. But it’s hard to get a hold on which market is where, on what days. It’s a real doozy, and if you don’t live here and have a market you always go to, it’s easy to miss them altogether. Which you shouldn’t. Food is such an integral part of French culture that you can learn a lot about the French from some time at the market.

The Marchés de Paris app places all the food markets on a map and gives information on days and times each is open. It is in French, but you’ll only have to look up the days of the week. You don’t need much else! If you want to know our absolute favorites, here’s a short list to get you started.

If you want to have a great market experience along with tastings like cheeses, bread, meats, and other French classics, I wholeheartedly recommend this walking tour. As a bonus, get 10% off by using discount code 18APPS.

Price: $ 1.09

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone

Android

Windows

Marches de Paris

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Currency Converter

Recommended app: XE currency converter

Good for: watching what you spend

It might sting sometimes, but it’s always better to know how much you’re actually spending. XE is a very simple currency converter that gives you live exchange rates. Whether you’re used to USD, CAD, AUD, GBP, or any other currency, you’ll be able to easily see the amount in EUR. This is even useful at the airports, when you’re wondering if that tax-free face lotion is actually the same price that you normally pay. (Hint: it probably is.)

XE is a simple app, so it’s pretty light-weight. Once you set your desired currency, you really won’t have to mess with it beyond entering new amounts. So it’s simple, too!

Having at least a general idea of how far your currency will go against the Euro is one great way to be well-prepared for your Paris trip. Speaking of currencies and being prepared – don’t forget to let your bank know you’ll be traveling! Read the article above to see why.

Price: Free

Offline use? Exchange rate updated online, app functions offline (but with outdated rate)

Get it here:
iPhone
Android
Windows

XE

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Taxi

Recommended app: Uber

Good for: getting around without the hassle of public transport

Paris’ public transportation system – especially the metro – is pretty incredible.

But sometimes you just want to not deal with the fuss. Whether it’s a crowded train, long metro line transfer, or you just want a little peace and quiet on the way home, we can all agree driving is often easier.

Uber is fully operational in Paris, so it’s a great option for getting around.

Now, there are plenty of taxi apps in Paris (LeCab, Taxis G7, Chauffeur Prive) but often they are in French only, or using them is a pain.

Plus, you likely already have an Uber account that is set up to accept payment (and if not, it’s very easy to do). Use is simple – the app automatically geolocalizes you, asks for destination, and lets you know how long you have to wait and what the fare will cost.

For diehard Lyft lovers – as of publication of this article (15 May 2018), Lyft is not functional in Paris. Sorry!

Price: Free

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone
Android
Windows

Uber

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City bike map

Recommended: Véli Velo

Good for: sporty travelers who want to bike through Paris

Let’s face it, Paris isn’t the best city for your waistline. Between the wine and the cheese and the baguettes and rich sauces, you’re bound to put on a few pounds.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you’re up for some sport, Paris has a pretty vast system of self-service city bikes, called Vélib’. VéliVelo is a map of all the Vélib’ stations a real-time update of how many functional bikes are at each. That’s extremely useful if you don’t want to walk to 3 different stations before finding a working bike! (Sometimes this does happen).

Want to know how to rent a Vélib’ bike? Here’s a great guide. WARNING: The Vélib’ system is currently undergoing a reworking, so many stations are under construction. Works are slated to be completed by Autumn 2018.

Price: Free

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone
Android
Windows

Veli-Velo

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French/English Dictionary

Recommended app: Larousse

Good for: Intermediate French speakers who need a little vocab or conjugation help

If your French is already pretty good, but not perfect, this is a great French-English dictionary to use during your Paris trip.

You can easily flip from French to English > English to French depending on your needs. The definitions give use examples which is great, and all verb conjugations as well (extremely useful!).

Larousse is made to be used offline which is perfect for those who are watching their data usage while abroad. The only part that requires data is the prononciations.

Price: $ 4.99

Offline use? Yes

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Larousse

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Translator

Recommended app: Google Translate

Good for: Instant translations of street signs, menu items

While no replacement for a fluent French speaker translating, Google’s Translate app is a neat little program that can really help you out.

The camera translate feature is arguably the most impressive (though, it can also be the least accurate). Point your camera at a roadsign or restaurant menu, and what you see on your screen is the English tranlation!

You can also type in phrases or questions and have Google translate them for you.

Nifty and easy to use, Google Translate will definitely help you out in Paris.

Price: Free

Offline use? Partially – camera translation requires internet, typed text translations are available offline

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Google Translate

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Language Learner

Recommended app: Duolingo

Good for: actually getting a grasp on French

If you’re a big enough Francophile, you just might want to learn some French before your trip. I’m talking more than ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci’ and ‘encore du vin’. How about a real, solid base of learning?

Duolingo is a fabulous app for just that. Start off learning rudimentary French vocab and sentences, or brush up on only certain verb conjugations.

Hey, get your friends to join, too. Duolingo shows your friends’ practice status (how many days in a row they’ve logged on to complete courses). Nothing like a bit of peer pressure to get you going, right?

Price: Free

Offline use? Yes, if you pre-download lesson

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Duolingo

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Music

Recommended: Spotify

Good for: Getting your groove on with some French music

Turn on some French music to get you ready for your Paris trip, or to totally immerse you once you’ve arrived.

Whether you’re traveling solo and wandering a Parisian park with Edith Piaf in your ears, or making coffee in your rental apartment to the dulcet tones of Jacques Brel… French music in Paris just feels like the real thing.

Spotify has a huge social community with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of playlists. Seach for some French music and get in the swing of things! You can find playlists like French Indie Pop or 100 Essential French Songs.

Price: App is free. Spotify subscription is free with ads. Premium Spotify subscription removes the ads for $ 9.90 per month

Offline use? Yes for playlists downloaded onto your phone. Streaming requires internet.

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Spotify

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Text messenger

Recommended app: WhatsApp

Good for: staying in touch, making friends back home jealous

For those of you not already using WhatsApp to text, this will really be a great resource as you travel abroad.

Instead of getting roaming fees for sending texts (regular or photos) or making calls, WhatsApp uses your internet connection to send them. So, you may have to wait until you’re back at your hotel with wifi… but you don’t have to wait until you get back home to send that oh-so-Parisian black and white photo of the Eiffel Tower.

The calls are crystal clear – again, an advantage of using wifi instead of your regular phone call feature.

Bonus: Whatsapp uses encryption to keep your messages safe. There are a lot of messaging apps out there, but this extra security feature by WhatsApp is really nice.

Price: Free

Data usage: Yes

Get it here:
iPhone
Android
Windows

WhatsApp

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Metric converter

Recommended app: Units

Good for: Finding out exactly how long a KM is, or what 20 degrees C really feels like

If you don’t “speak metric” already, you’re probably going to run into some confusion in Paris.

Units is a great app that will convert pretty much any foreign unit to one you can understand. There are about 800 different conversions to choose from, but (at least on the iPhone app) you can customize the ones you use a lot. This makes conversions way smoother. Prioritize kilometers to miles, centimeters to inches, kilograms to pounds, and Celsius to Farenheit.

Price: Free

Data usage: Yes

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Units

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Food Delivery

Recommended app: Deliveroo

Good for: Jetlag meals

Let’s face it. Sometimes you just want to stay in bed.

Though you won’t want to do this your whole Paris trip, Deliveroo is a great food delivery app for those days post-travel when you just need a minute to hunker down in your rental apartment or hotel.

You can see reviews and popular selections for each restaurant. Your delivery will arrive (by bike) typically within 30-45 minutes of ordering.

Price: App is free. Food is not (sorry).

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

Deliveroo

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News

Recommended app: France 24

Good for: being in the know

A lot of French news doesn’t see too much coverage outside of Europe. To brush up on what’s going on in France and Paris before your trip, download this app.

France 24 is collection of international news stories – in English, don’t worry. Top stories, breaking news, special reports… you name it.

It’s good to be informed, people.

Price: Free

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

France24

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Flight tracker

Recommended app: FlightAware Flight Tracker

Good for: making it back home in one piece

We know you wouldn’t mind missing your flight out of Paris.

And in a perfect world, you could! You could miss it again and again and again, until before you know it you’ve become old and very, very French.

But we know that jobs and families and obligations await so… don’t miss your flight. FlightAware will give you real-time updates on your flight status, and also let you know what terminal you’re going to and other details.

Price: Free

Offline use? No

Get it here:
iPhone
Android

FlightAware

That’s all, folks

Phone apps can be a really useful tool while in Paris! I hope this list helps you out. If you need more specific help or advice while in Paris, check out this Concierge service to work with a Paris expert in order to make your Parisian vacation what it should be: Perfect!

This list was originally published on 11 February 2017, but has been updated for freshness.

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