When walking around Paris you can't help but notice all the cars. They crowd every road, honking impatiently, and are parked bumper to bumper on every side street. There is no doubt that despite the excellent métro (subway) and bus systems, Parisians love their vehicles.

So one day it dawned on me: there are so many cars in Paris, but where are all the gas stations?

To find the answer, I pulled out my handy “Paris Pratique”, the pocket sized map organized by each of the twenty arrondissements which includes an indispensable metro map. Sure enough, I found service stations in the legend. I started looking at the central arrondissements near where I was staying, and there were very few gas stations to be found.

My friend Pascal Fonquernie, founder of the Parismarais website, just bought a beautiful Renault cabriolet (convertible), so I thought he would be a good person to ask where to get gas in Paris. He told me that in central Paris the number of gas stations is definitely restricted by space, but there are also safety considerations since the areas are so densely populated.

I found this service station pictured above while walking along rue des Archives, a bustling café and boutique filled street in le Marais. I was quite surprised that the gas pumps were basically sitting on the sidewalk by the side of the road, and discovered that in central Paris, this is exactly how many of the stations are set up.

The Elan shot was snapped by Jan McIntyre, chef extraordinaire and author of the Cuisine de Jan blog. We were walking along avenue Duquesne in the 7th arrondissement near the Eiffel Tower on our way to the market street rue Cler. As the owner of a cute Peugot cabriolet, Jan told me that there are a greater number of larger gas stations that are designed more like North American stations located in the outer arrondissements and on the Périphérique, the large and very busy four- to eight-lane ring road that surrounds the city of Paris.

Julie Vetter, web consultant and the founder of We Brand Online lives in the 13th arrondissement and sent a couple of photos of her local gas station on avenue de Choisy in the Chinese Quarter of Paris. It even offers an ecological hand car wash. Julie told me that there are stations in Paris with pumps that actually descend into the ground when the station is closed.

And the price of gas in Paris? The most recent price I saw on August 12 was 1.17 euros/litre -- that works out to about $1.75 Canadian. Guess the current gas price of just under $1/litre in Toronto isn't so bad after all....

Lynda Sydney, editor of http://www.carchick.ca/

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