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 :)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Paris' Metro has lines which run throughout the various Arrondissement of Paris, ensuring that your stay in Paris gives you the opportunity to get around and see many of the city's sights.
Lines are colour-coded and numbered, with direction being indicated by the terminal station.
There are plenty of free maps to Paris which include the metro system and locations of stations - th easiest is to pick one up at one of the Tourist Information Offices either at the airports or in the city.
The Metro net is very comprehensive and safe in Paris, like all the public transport in town, so don't be worried about that.
I really advice you to use it without any fear during all its opening hours. Just a useful precaution could be to trust in your "Sixth Sense" and wait the train next to a well looking group of people and ride a wagon with some one else during the late hours.
Here are some useful tips we learned:
If you want to spend some time in Paris, there are left luggage lockers ('Consigne automatique' in French, but signs are also in English) at the Gare du Nord, Gare de Lyon and Gare d'Austerlitz. Expect to have your bags X-rayed before entering the locker area. Small, medium and large size lockers cost 4.50, 7.00 and 9.50 euros for 24 hours. A medium locker will take one backpack or small suitcase, a large locker will take two backpacks or larger suitcases. There are no facilities for leaving bikes, surfboards or skis.
* The metro fare is 1.70 euros per journey;
* Children 0-3 travel free. Children 4-9 (inclusive) travel for 0.85 euro;
* It's cheaper to buy a 'carnet' of 10 tickets for 12.00 euros. You can keep any spare tickets and use them later, even up to a year later. Each ticket is valid for one journey in central Paris on either metro, RER (express metro) or bus.
With 14 lines, 380 stations, and more than 211 km of track, the Paris underground is Europe's second-largest subway system, and that's without including the RER, a commuter-rail network that is integrated with the Métro. So it is save to say that you will get everywhere in Paris by the metro.
Some years before my visit to Paris I did travel with the London metro, which was a bit of a reference for travelling here this way in the city of Paris. But unlike the London Underground, which uses a line name then 'northbound' and 'southbound', Paris metro lines each have a number then a 'diréction'. The 'diréction' is the name of the station at the end of the line in the direction you want to go. For example, 'M5 diréction Place d'Italie', Place d'Italie being the station at the end of line 5 in that direction. So before you enter the station or a particular subway just figure out which way you want to go, which station is the station at that end and go ahead.
Of course walking is the most scenic way to explore the beautiful city of Paris. But for longer journeys, the Métro is the preferred mode of transportation. Although the Paris Métro is one of the oldest subways in the world (it opened in 1900), it compares favorably with newer counterparts in other cities. The cars are modern and clean, there's little waiting time between trains, crime is minimal except for pickpockets. Crossing Paris by the Paris Métro physically takes about 30-35 minutes. You simply won't find a quicker way to get around Paris.
Buying a ticket is rather easy, but you must know this in advance: the metro is not included in mainline tickets! So head downstairs to the Paris Métro and buy a ticket from the self-service ticket machines or at the metro ticket office. We used the self-service machines, because they have an English language facility and accept Euro coins, Euro notes and credit cards. They also sell carnets of 10 tickets.
Paris metro system uses many different types of trains with many different doors system. On some trains, the doors open automatically at the station. Some may require you to push a red button to open it while most of the older ones, you open the doors via a lever at the centre of the train doors.
Being unfamiliar, we got separated because one got on-board while the other is still to board and weren't aware that one has to use the lever to open the door. Managed to meet back up after 2 stations.
Some trains do not have announcement of arrival at station while some do have limited announcements. Newer trains have lited overhead indicator map of stations and current station.
There are fold down seats available near the doorway, within the train, that allow more seating. I noticed that most locals would give up the seats and have it up and kept away when the trains get crowded in order not to obstruct the doorway entrance and exit.
When you're not walking around Paris, just take the metro! It's everywhere, near every famous landmark, shop, parc, museum, street, etc! I always take a ten-journey ticket. I'll never use more than 4 times the metro in a day! There's always some building to photograph so please take time to stroll in the streets of Paris. The center is pretty much safe (not like Barcelona) , the police is doing their best job to protect tourists.
It's really easy to get around the metro, you can't get lost! Read the signs, follow crowds, watch for your belongings of course too... Don't be too naive, be smart when you wander around the city. Ask for directions if you need to.
Clean, safe, and convenient, the metros are the best way to get around the city.
As long as you stay inside the station, you can jump from one train to another for the price of one ticket. Buy a carnet of 10 tickets for €9.60. Tickets can be bought from either the station or tabacs shops. The same ticket is good for the RER (except suburb lines), bus and metro.
Just to note: Few stations have elevators or escalators so it is necessary to climb the stairs.
See website for route maps and timetables. You can also book a pass online for unlimited travel on the bus, metro, RER, and tramway.
Buying tickets: you buy tickets from the machine in either une billet plein tariff (1 adult tic) at 1.7euro or carnet (10 tics) at 12euro. First page is all french, so learn the words for the type of tics you want. Roll the roller in the middle and press the green button on the right to select ok.
Second page has this language option at the bottom of the screen - represented by flags. You can then follow the instruction for how many tickets you want.
Payment is by coins (10,20,50, 1 & 2e), bills (5, 10, 20e) and credit card. I used all three, seemed to be no problem. With my sg credit card, all I did was slot in the card and wait, and then the machine automatically deduct from the card and spews out the tickets. No pin used.
Taking the metro: Slot in your ticket, push the turnstile, the flap gate and take your ticket. There is a slight blue printing on the bottom and on the back of the ticket to show that it's validated. You don't need it when you come out of the metro, but keep it just in case for the trip. Coming out the metro: Simply walk through those automatic high gates.
Train doors: For the tourist lines such as Line 1, the train doors open automatially. For older train such as those on line 8, you have to push a green button to open the door manually. Even older trains such as those on Line 9, you have to lift up the latch clockwise; see how others do it.
Metro transfers: follow the sign. Some stations are huge and you walk through tunnels and tunnels to connect from one line to another. May not always have the metro map, so pls keep one copy of the metro with you at all times.
Tip: A metro can have many exits. To know which one is the best for you, you can check it out beforehand on the ratp website, which offers information & neighbourhood map of each station, train timings, train map, as well as any change in timing/closure of the lines for maintenance in real time. they also have a trip planner which gives you a recommended route and timing estimated.
Site in french, click for the eng flag icon to view it in english.