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Much of the parking in larger cities is parking you have to pay for. Look for machines in the middle of parking lots. They are quite sophisticated, often taking coins, bills, and sometimes credit cards. Parking is generally free during lunch - from 12-2pm. Otherwise, you will often need to pay in a pay lot from 9-12 and 2-7 in the evening. Check the signs.

At intervals along the street are small machines called 'horodateurs'. You decide how much time you need, and read what it costs. Then you feed in coins, and when the display gets up to the balance you want, you push a green button. The machine prints a ticket with a date and time of expiration on it, and you place it on the dash board in front of the steering wheel.

A clue that you need to feed the horodateur can often be found written on the pavement: the word 'PAYANT' stenciled on the ground.

The horodateurs for parking in the city of Paris do not take coins. They were being pillaged too much, so now they only take special chip parking cards (sold in a tabac) and Moneo electronic minor payment cards. NONE of them take coins, which is a big problem for tourists; because the parking cards on sale often have a much greater value than a visitor is planning on using (even the people from the suburbs of Paris feel they are being ransomed for this). Best to never to park on the street in Paris and only use the underground lots.