After we walked around a bit at Gare du Nord we worked out the metro. Finding the metro stations on the other hand is not so easy. They are not very well lit and there are basically no signs pointing to the stations. A few steps suddenly going down the sidewalk is about the only indication you get.
A a cyclist I seldom use the Métro in Paris, but recently I had occasion to take line # 4 for the first time in several years. The trains on this line now run on rubber tires, for a smoother and quieter ride, but they still have human drivers and do not (yet) have glass walls between the tracks and the platforms, as on lines 1 and 14.
Line # 4 is the one that runs from Porte de Clignancourt in the north to Mairie de Montrouge in the south, by way of the North and East railway stations, Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint Michel, Montparnasse-Bienvenüe and Porte d’Orléans. I used to take this line sometimes when I was a student in Paris half a century ago, but now I more often use the Vélib’ bikes or the number 38 bus.
In addition to the rubber tires, they now have very clear station announcements on the trains. The clarity is enhance by the fact that each station is named twice, first with an upward intonation on the last syllable and second with a downward intonation, indicating that the announcement is finished.
On the new tramways the announcements are even clearer because there are two voices, first a man’s voice with an upward intonation on the last syllable and then a woman’s voice with a downward intonation, or visa versa.
Five or six reasons not to take the Métro
Next Paris review from March 2014: Hotel Liège-Strasbourg
All the information about the metro in Paris you may want to know is already mentioned here by all the others VT members.
Of course, the latest news could be found on http://www.parismetro.com/
What I want to tell you about the Metro in Paris is intending to be different.
Part of the special feeling of being in Paris is the Metro, especially at the rush hours. I love to go inside for a ride, shoulder to shoulder with all the others, the lost tourists trying to understand the coloured maps or the locals bored of doing this few times per day.
I'm always enjoying that Parisian Metro safari with all the faces, all the races, poor and rich, young and old, shy or scandalous...
There the personalities are melted into a common soul, the Parisian one. You'll feel there as one of them, with good and bad..
Jump from a metro to another one, take the connections, move down on the bad smelling RER stations, follow the hundreds of homeless people living below, look at everybody's indifference, be stuck in the guillotines-gates at the entrances to the metro and you'll have something to tell to your friends.
I feel there helpless and useless, I'm just a part of that flow on hearts beating together for a short time.
I'm one of the people studying your faces, your rictuses, the titles of the books you're reading and the way you're trying to be invisible to the others.
The show of the Parisian metro is always new and always unique.
Try to see your trip with the Metro as I see it. Look at the tired faces and think like me.
This is the World, this is the best capture of what that globalisation mean, this is the future of our World, even if you like it or not.
A World of lonely people, mixed cultures, mixed races, mixed interests, a World without intimacy, a World where you'll feel human only mixed with the others and trying to be invisible between them. A World of unsaid stories... I love the Metro in Paris for giving me these experiences every time I'm going down there...
In the Metro in Paris you'll feel as belonging to something big, an ant in a huge mound.
I found the Paris metro to be so well laid out, despite it's age. It surpassed my expectations. Granted, some of the stations were less that desirable in appearance and even in smell ICK, but trains were efficient. See my review about safety on the train with your belongings. Everyone was quite helpful when we were attempting to purchase tickets, we had bought the cards to cover our travel gut we needed to know what to do with them. I suggest you buy the travel cards that cover trains and buses. We didn't take the bus because the trains were efficient. Be careful of the beggars, . Study the metro rail map and you will be able to visit almost everywhere in the city. In fact, one train brings you straight in under the L"ouvre! We did not attempt to drive and most thankful for that, our apartment lessors scheduled us a private driver and he is a seasoned driver and it was crazy, congested and very dirty and gritty in parts. We flew in on Air France out of London. VALUABLE LESSON If you are traveling from a city in Europe to another city in Europe, its easier HOWEVER the allowed luggage is substantially smaller, we had 4 large suitcases going from London to there and 5 coming back. And we had to pay 350 euros for our extra weight. So be very aware. If you don't want the train or the bus, hire a car, a nice car not a taxi if you can help it. A few extra dollars for a well qualified driver with a nice luxury car. Worth every dime.
Update: January 2014
If you don't have a Metro map current as of February or March 2013, you need to get a new map. Many of the maps in guidebooks are now incorrect because four of the Metro lines have been extended. After you read the following directions, you will know you need the name of the last station on the line to find the train. The last station has changed for four lines. You can download a new Metro map at: Paris Metro Map and click on download the guide.
Don't be shy about using the subway (Metro) in Paris. It is incredibly easy to navigate. If I can do it; anyone can do it. They have set it up so you can go anyplace and not get lost.
Get a free Metro map at any ticket window. They are usually sitting on a shelf and you don't even have to ask. That said, I much prefer my map booklet "Paris Pratique par Arrondissement" that has each district (arrondissement) of Paris on a separate page with the Metro stops marked. There is a full Metro map at the beginning of the book so you can put it all together. Buy at a news stand, tabac or bookstore.
You know the Metro station where you are. You know which Metro station you want. The other information you need is the name of the station at the end of the line in the direction you want to go. Example: You are Jussieu Metro station in the Latin Quarter and you want to visit the Louvre. You look at your map and find Jussieu and notice lines #10 and #7 go through there. You want to go to the Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre stop and that is line #7 (pink on most maps). Follow line #7 to the end and you will see the last stop is La Courneuve. That is your magic key.
Go into the Metro and follow signs pointing to La Courneuve until you get to the tracks. The rest is easy. When the train arrives, hop on and relax. The line is on a map above the doors so you can watch where you are and see where you are going. Each station is very well marked so you can tick them off in your mind. Make a note of the station right before your Louvre station and start to get ready to get off. (Pont Neuf is right before Louvre). When you see the signs for Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre, get off and follow exit signs (and all the other people) to the Louvre. You can go into the museum right from the station and skip most of the lines!
It gets more complicated if you have to change trains, but as long as you remember to look for the last station on your line, you are okay. Change (Correspondence) example: Let's say you are at La Tour Maubourg station and you want to go to the Louvre. You will take line #8 (the only one available at Maubourg) and go in the direction of Creteil-Prefecture but will get off at the Concorde station to change trains. (That is the 2nd stop for you) You stay underground and simply follow signs to Chateau de Vincennes (line #1) to get to your next train. You will go up and down stairs and have lots of company but every time there is a turn or stair, you will see signs. Keep following Chateau de Vincennes until you come to the train tracks. Wait for your train, get on and go to the Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre stop (the stop before is Tuileries) and get off and you are at the Louvre.
As long as you know the last station in the direction you are going, you can't get lost. If you go the wrong direction, simply get off at the next station and follow signs to that last station again and you'll be fine.
You may want to download an Interactive Metro map at the website below. Print it out and practice a few trips before you go. You will be addicted to the fast, easy train system in Paris.
Here is a web site for trip planning that is in English. Interactive Paris Metro Map in English They have "improved" this web site and it's only about half in English and not nearly as easy to use as it used to be. If you just keep searching on the Metro web offerings, you eventually work it out. The Metro is easy to use; the web site is not.
Keep in mind there are often several ways to get from one place to another. You can use your Metro tickets on the Metro, RER within the Peripherique, trams, buses and the Montmartre funicular. We buy a carnet of 10 Metro tickets for 13.70 euros and share the tickets. BTW, you can buy tickets on the bus, but they cost more and you cannot use them to transfer. You also cannot buy carnets of 10 tickets on the bus. Much better to get your tickets at a local tabac, news stand or in the Metro station.
My suggestion for people visiting Paris, is to avoid metro if all possible. Especially in summer times when it is hot using the metro can be tiring and unpleasant experience. First none of the metro almost has air conditioning. It is very crowded especially late nights. Can be very difficult with children. You will not be able to enjoy the city itself due to time and energy spent in metros. I agree metro can take you almost anywhere, however, between metro line changes, there is quite a bit walk like in airports. Plus you will have the ugly smell of metros due to homeless people using the platforms as restrooms. There is urine smell everywhere. When we think of metro and Paris, this is the first thing we remember.
My suggestion is of course not using the taxi due to its high cost, but rather select a hotel nearby to attractions, it will worth your extra money
Unlike London, Paris believes in keeping metro fares at a reasonable level for all. Visitors on short breaks (of less than a week) can’t go far wrong. A single ticket is one euro fifty cent ! small savings can be made by buying a book of 10.
The ‘Paris visite’ card seems to be heavily promoted but at 9.30 euro it means you will need to make six journeys a day before it become worthwhile in purely travel terms. On the other hand if you can avail of one of the discounts it give to various museum / attractions (somewhat limed selection) that you are actually interested in , then it could be worth looking into.
Rat-pee (RATP) might be the name of the metro company, but at least they are not taking the P***, unlike London Transport.
Paris has a metro network, and it goes all over the city. It's easy to get around by metro, though because many of the lines wind around, branch/fork out, and/or overlap, navigating the metro is a lot like a labyrinth. When I found out which station was closest to the Eiffel tower, I figured out which lines to take, but it ended up being the long way. On the way back to the hostel, I took a different route that ended up being a lot shorter.
One of the lines goes to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, so you don't have to pay a cab to get to/from there. I don't think the metro goes to Orly airport, though.
You'll likely see buskers playing music (usually accordion) in the train and the music is usually good, so remember to have a little spare change handy to give them.
Many Americans come from places without subways or light rail so the prospect of figuring out the Paris metro can be daunting. Good news, folks: it's not nearly as confusing as you may think!
Walking the City of Light is a delight and should always be your first option but sometimes you need to get somewhere in a hurry or are just too pooped to put one foot in front of the other?Time to hop a train - and here's how you do it:
• Pick up a free map at a metro station or find them in the back of local tourist mags. Metro stations all post maps as well.
• On the map, locate the nearest metro station to the place you want to go, and the nearest station to where you are. Then find the colored line that indicates your most direct route between them. All metro lines are identified by color, number, and their terminus at either end.
For instance, the day we went to Père Lachaise, the map told us that the nearest station to the cemetery was on the dark gold line: #3, Pont de Levallois/Bécon - Gallieni line. The closest station to our hotel was Opéra, which is also on that line.
• Go to the station and buy a ticket. We found that buying a carnet (car-nay) of 10 worked best as we could purchase it at a service window versus a machine, and share the book of tickets. This is usually a much more economical option than tourist transport passes, and they never expire.
• Now find your platform. You want to be SURE to find the one for the train heading the direction you want to go. Your correct platform will be identified by the station at the end of the line going that direction. For instance, to get to Père Lachaise we needed to travel east of Opéra on line 3. The eastern terminus of that line is Gallieni - so that's the platform we wanted. Going back Opera, we reversed it and went to the Pont de Levallois/Bécon platform - which is the terminus of the line on the west end.
You will feed your ticket, magnetic trip down, into a turnstile before entering the platform. Be sure to retrieve it when when it spits out the other end of the machine as you need to have with you on the train.
• When your train arrives, let everyone get off before boarding. A buzzer will indicate when the doors are about to close so if it's sounding before you've boarded, step back and wait for the next train.
• Keep your map discretely in hand, and watch the signs at station stops along the way so you know when yours is coming up. When you get off the train, follow the "sortie" signs for the exit from the station. At large stations there will be multiple exits that emerge onto different streets.
Your metro ticket is good for 90 minutes after validation so you can transfer trains within the Metro stations (meaning you can switch trains but can't exit the turnstiles) as many times as needed - as long as it's within that 90-minute period. And do mind your manners: talking loudly or not giving your seat up to someone who could use it more than you is considered bad form.
A large and well designed metro net reaches any corner of this big metropolis. Efficient, sometimes a bit dirty cars, expensive, not as expensive as the Tube of London, but enough. However this way of transportation is recommended as faster and cheaper than others.
Despite I never have had any problem, the concierge of my hotel recommended me that when I use the metro I must be careful with my valuable things as cameras, jewels, watches and wallet, the pickpockets are always ready for work. Nothing new, but take care.
If you have a smart phone, the Paris Metro has an app. It is free to download and it is available in several languages including English. If you download the maps, you don't even need to be online to use it. With the app, you can figure out your itineraries for the Metro, RER and trams in Paris; have maps of the Metro, RER and tram lines; have a map of Paris that is accessible even without an Internet connection, and get tourist information about many often-visited Paris sights. They even have some useful French phrases for you.
I've listed the web site to download the app below but if it doesn't work, go to the RATP web site and follow this path: Home > Travelling > Tourists > Finding your way in Paris > Visit Paris by Metro Paris Metro Official Web Site
The Métro is Paris's world-famous, marvelously efficient, fast, clean, economical, state-of-the-art rapid transit system that tourists all love because it's easy to use and you can get from anywhere to anywhere in Paris without getting lost or making a fool of yourself.
It's so wonderful that I even use it myself occasionally, for instance going to and from the railroad station with my luggage, or if I am in a hurry to get from one end of Paris to another.
Aside from these exceptions, though, there are good reasons not to use the Métro on a daily or hourly basis:
1. It's unhealthy, because you just stand or sit there. Get a bicycle instead and get some exercise. (Please have a look at my General Tips a.k.a. Favorites for lots of information on cycling in Paris.)
I must admit, however, that if you have to change trains at one of the big Métro stations you might get some exercise by walking through endless tunnels and up and down stairs to get from one line to the next.
2. You can't see much from the Métro, because the trains run underground most of the time, so if you can't cycle you should at least take a bus. This might take somewhat longer, but at least you'll see more of Paris, and with the new bus lanes the buses no longer get stuck in endless traffic jams like they used to.
3. If there are any kind of germs or viruses going around, you're bound to catch them if you ride around in trains full of sick people. To stay healthy, cycle around in the fresh air instead.
4. On the Métro you are in danger of getting pickpocketed, especially if you look like a tourist.
5. During the rush hours the trains can get so full (especially the regional RERs) that you might not even be able to squeeze your way on, much less find a seat.
6. This last reason is more a matter of principle, not a practical consideration, but if you take the Métro you are in effect surrendering to the automobile lobbies and letting yourself be banished underground like a rat or a mole, while motor vehicles spread out and monopolize the surface of the planet.
Second photo: Art Deco Métro sign at Daumesnil.
Third photo: Art Deco Métro entrance at Abesses.
Fourth photo: Over the past several years, the Métro line number 1 has been completely modernized and automated. New driverless trains have been introduced, and all the stations have been equipped with glass walls and doors on the edge of the platforms. The doors remain closed until the train arrives, and then they open simultaneously with the train doors (as in some of the main Metro stations in Copenhagen, for example).
Fifth photo: This is the eastbound platform of Métro line # 1 at Porte de Vincennes, where passengers can change to the new tramway lines 3a and 3b.
RATP is a is a state-owned public transport operator that is responsible for most of the public transport (Paris Métro, tram and bus service) in Paris and the surrounding region. In Paris, RATP operates on behalf of the Paris region transit authority.
Built in 1900 the Métro is the quickest and easiest way to travel around the city, as well as the best value. The Paris metro has 245 stations, their entrances marked by a big yellow “M”, and 16 lines, numbered from 1 to 14, 3 bis and 7 bis. Each line has a colour, which you’ll find on signs in the stations and on all the RATP maps. Connections between lines make your journey easy to plan. For an idea of your journey time, allow an average of 2 minutes per station and add 5 minutes for each connection.
It is interesting to note that the ticket still displayed the old currency value FRF (French Franc) which went out of circulation in January 2002.
Ah yes, the Paris Métro! A great way to get around the city. Reliable (usually), fast & economical. Not always comfortable, but you can always avoid the rush hours!
One tip is to buy a "carnet". That's 10 tickets bought at the same time. You just use them as you need them. There are other deals - a day ticket, for example - but I've always liked the flexibility of the carnet.
A few navigation tips:
- always know the line number, colour code and final station for the station you're wanting. For example, if I want Bir Hakeim for the Tour Eiffel - line 6, pale green, final station Etoile. That will help you if you have to change lines, and to go in the correct direction.
- you can get an iPhone app from RATP (the Paris transport service) which will help find your way. It depends on internet connection, and you'll pay big charges if you use it on 3G, so use it in the hotel to plan your route.
- the app will also alert you to any problems on the system, so maybe you can plan another route to avoid
Personal security is vital. Be alert and careful at all times, especially if anyone tries to speak to you (may be a distraction) or you see people moving through the carriages (what are they looking for?). Keep your valuables somewhere safe.
I recommend having your journey planned out before you leave your hotel, and perhaps having the network map printed on a piece of paper, so you don't look like the obvious tourist once you get in the station (poring over a guide book or a map on the station wall can mark you out).
I have never had a security problem in my 40 years of using the Métro, but it can happen and it's better to take normal precautions than to have your trip spoiled.
The comprehensive Paris Metro system is the easiest way to get around the city. You never seem to be far from at least one metro station (and you wil probably have a choice of several in the city centre tourist areas) and the system is fast and reliable.
The ticket machines in stations have English language options which makes them relatively easy to use. I've found the most cost effective way of using the system for me has been to buy a carnet of 10 single tickets as I tend to walk short distances around the city so that I see more and only use public transport for the longer journeys. One word of warning, the tickets are a little sensitive to sources of magnetic fields so keep them away from your mobile phone otherwise they often seem to stop working. Just keep the tickets in one pocket and your phone in one on teh other side of your body should be sufficient to protect them from having the magnetic strip wiped of data!
When changing between lines the walking between platforms can be quite long at some stations.