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Five or six reasons not to take the Métro
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.
Watch out for long interconnections
I was very nearly caught out recently by trying to use my noddle - and getting it terribly wrong.
I took a metro with associated baggage of suitcases, child, pushchair and wife to La Chappell. The map showed it was connected to the Gare du Nord station. It was certainly connected but it was a long, long walk with innumeral gates, barriers and poor signposting to contend with.
Eventually made it to my Eurostar train with moments to spare, sweat poring out of me and a very lively flea in my ear about my gross stupidity.
I think there are seveal other points on the map (e.g Around Gare d'Lyon) where the map shows an interconnection - but be prepared for a bit of a hike.
metro fares - fares fair !
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 taking the P***, unlike London Transport.
Métro – (RATP-SNCF)
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.
- Budget Travel
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.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
Paris is quite easy to get around by Metro. The metro systems here in Paris are easy and safe to navigate. My recommendation is to know the line and station stop you would like to get off on noting the direction of the metro.
Please note that the last metro leaves its station around midnight. I usually purchase a carnat of 10 tickets. Please hold on to your ticket stub as well because some of the metro stations require you to use it upon exiting.
Easiest way to get around Paris
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.
How to use the Metro/RER from CDG Airport
It seems very complicated but in fact it is really easy :)
You're probably be confused by the French names of the stations but... this is normal and after only few trips you’ll get familiar with them.
To make you feel better I'll say that, if I have done this, you'll do it too, even easier :)
In the RER station on CDG you'll find proper/normal ticket desks and the clerks there are speaking reasonably good English.
In your place I would buy a day ticket and this will guarantee you how many hop-on-hop-off you’d like to have at only 20 Euro/day, both RER and Metro.
With 20 Euro only, you can cover the entire city as many times as you’d like.
Get the ticket, get the map of RER/Metro and all what you’ll have to do is to follow carefully what the others ar doing.
Don't forget to recover your ticket from the machines when you'll exit the stations.
You need more attention if you change the lines to be sure that you’re getting the good direction.
And, of course, to be sure that you know in which pocket you’ll keep it… I spent 5 minutes trying to remember where my ticket is, after only few hop-on-hop-offs :)
Free transfers in Paris metro/RER
A question that comes up once in a while because most dont know, you can buy one ticket and go out of the system and come back in, without the need to buy another ticket. No matter the time elapse. These are the stations covered
Gare de Lyon -> Gare d'Austerlitz
- Gare de Lyon -> Quai de la Rapée
- Auber -> Gare Saint-Lazare SNCF, Hausmann Saint-Lazare
- Chaussée d'Antin -> Gare Saint-Lazare SNCF, Hausmann Saint-Lazare
- Havre-Caumartin -> Gare Saint-Lazare SNCF
- Saint-Augustin -> Gare Saint-Lazare SNCF, Hausmann Saint-Lazare
- Château Landon -> Gare de l'Est SNCF, Magenta
- Pasteur -> Gare Montparnasse
- Poissonnière -> Gare du Nord, Magenta
- Pont de Sèvres -> Musée de Sèvres
- Boulogne Porte de Saint-Cloud ->Parc de Saint-Cloud,
- Alma-Marceau -> Pont de l'Alma
- Assemblée Nationale -> Musée d'Orsay
- Balard -> Boulevard Victor
- Porte Dauphine -> Avenue Foch
- Rue de la Pompe -> Avenue Henri Martin
- Solférino -> Musée d'Orsay
Also, you can get out and in within 90 minutes from the time you initially stamp your first trip with the combinations "Bus - Bus" and "Bus - Tramway" . However, these transfers are not allowed even within the 90 minutes time métro/bus, métro/tram, RER/bus, and RER/tram.
Any questions ask me.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Using the metro
Well, walking is my number one choice. But when you feel like your feet are giving up on you, then the metro is always a practical choice. I’ve always found understanding European metro systems an easy thing to do. Paris was no different. Choose the 10-tickets option from the machine and just have them in your pocket when the pain in the feet becomes unbearable.
- Arts and Culture
The t+ ticket
From 1st July 2007, the mauve-coloured t ticket has been replaced by the new white-coloured t+ ticket.
The t+ ticket enables the customer to travel on:
the whole of the METRO and the Montmartre funicular
the RER (RATP and SNCF) within Paris
the RATP buses in Paris and the suburbs (except for lines with special fares) and to make connections between the Metro and the RER in Paris.
Connections between metro/bus, metro/tram, RER/bus, RER/tram with the same ticket t+ are NOT possible.
The t+ ticket brings in a more extensive service with a new functionality:
the possibility of making bus/bus and bus/tram connections.
"connection" means transferring from one bus line to another.
How do you use it ?
After validating it every time you board a bus or tram, you have an hour and a half between the first validation and the last validation to make one or more connections.
The t+ ticket is sold singly (full fare) or in a carnet (full or reduced fare).
Be careful ! Aboard buses the drivers have a different ticket they sell which does not allow connections.
Airports: Travelling to and from the airports requires special tickets.
On 1/07/2010 the full price of this t+ ticket has been increased to 1,70 € (still valid in 2012) and the carnet of 10 tickets is now (2012) at 12,70 €.
The "carnet de 10" is very often used by visitors of Paris but note that the selling desks in the Metro stations are not always open (even often closed) so prepare yourself to buy them at the machine by having enough € coins with you. Rather few machines accept bank notes.
I noted that the former tickets with extended zones 4 - 6 do not exist anymore (except for travel subscriptions "abonnements" ) but were replaced by a Billet Ile-de-France which calculates the price from inside Paris to a specific destination outside (for example Versailles). This ticket is now (2011 - 2012) called Billet Origine-Destination.
See my tip about this new billet.
For navigating Paris Public Transport ,we are always equipped with our tattered "cartes tirade" #301 Paris Autobus Map (with a street index). Buy at Tabac.
Also "le petit parisien" with 3 plans per arrondissement covering metro/bus/streets & much more This IMO is a must for anyone visiting Paris for more than a couple of days.
Do not neglect the bus. Fantastic way to see the city. Got an hour to spare ? - jump on a bus....any bus!
- Budget Travel
Most Metro stations have ticket vending machines. You can select multiple languages and the red button is for CORRECT, the green button for ACCEPT. A big metal roller underneath the screen let you step through the options displayed at the screen.
Single t+ tickets are Euro 1.70; a booklet of 10 tickets is 12.70.
At the bigger Métro stations you can buy a Paris Visite travel card. This card comes in 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days in zones 1-3 or 1-5 variants. Travel time validation starts at 5.30AM till 5.30AM the next day.
Prices for the Paris Visite travel card for the zones 1 - 3 variant:
1day Euro 9.75, 2 days Euro 15.85, 3 days Euro 21.60 and 5 days 31.15.
If you stay longer, you can opt for a week, month, quarter or even a year card.
A card for zones 1 - 2 is Euro 19.15 for a week and Euro 62.90 for a month.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
nice easy reading maps metro and RER
lines of transport in Paris for easier reading try this site, first the RER lines
then the metro lines
you can print and study from home. Hope it helps your directions. All is well posted.
- Budget Travel
Metro is not ideal if you have limited mobility
Public transport is indeed a wonderful thing, and a godsend for the traveller, but you can save yourself a lot of potential grief by being realistic about its shortcomings, particularly if you have limited mobility.
The Metro system is tremendous, but (in common with other metro systems such as London's) bear in mind that they were designed a century ago when access for the physically challenged was not a design consideration. Many stations do not have escalators, have lots of stairs and the distance between platforms at stations where metro lines intersect may involve a significant walk (often involving steps). Thus, is you have limited mobility or are travelling with children and/or heavy luggage, you may find that saving a few euros by opting to take the metro rather than a taxi is a false economy. My middle aged concession is usually to get a taxi from the airport/station to the hotel and then once I've dumped my luggage, I'm ready to tackle the public transport system!
If you have these limitations, my recommendation would be to do some research before you make your choice of hotel, and use this to inform your selection. And if all else fails, post a query on the VT Paris forum and ask locals for guidance on stations that are accessible for those with restricted mobility!
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