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.
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.