Those carnet tickets are very small. So when you use them keep them in a separate area in your purse or whatever you are carrying so they don't get lost. I actually carried 2 little pouches, one for future tickets and one for the tickets I needed for transfers. Once you are through with the ticket do throw it away so that you don't try to use it again.
It was a riot that launched the modern French state back in 1789, and the youth of Paris have enjoyed a good riot every so often since. There were some great riots by the students back in the 1960's, but those in the last few years seemed to lack a certain 'edge'.
During the last series in 2006, young people were protesting against the introduction of new more-flexible labour laws. Watching it live on 'Sky TV' the protestors were happily taunting the police and chucking a few stones in Place de la Republique. Meanwhile other Parisien residents were quite happy to walk right between the two groups on their way to the Metro station and home, seemingly quite oblivious to any danger. I even saw some woman walk across pushing a pram !
This may tell you something about how Paris works. When I was last there in May 2006, there was a demonstration against immigration. The riot police (pretty much a full time job in Paris) neatly cordoned off the square near Invalides station. As I was pushing Arann, I had to walk a log way around to get to the station I wanted. Within minutes of the protest finishing, the cleaners moved in and the square was restored to it's former state within minutes. Gallic effeciency can sometimes work wonders.
WHILE THE PARIS METRO CAN BE HELD UP AS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE WORLD IT IS WORTH POINTING OUT THAT CARE SHOULD BE TAKEN IF YOU USE THE SYSTEM LATE AT NIGHT..
I DONT WANT TO CAUSE ALARM BECAUSE IN ALL THE TIME WE HAVE BEEN TO PARIS WE HAVE NEVER HAD A PROBLEM...
THAT SAID SOME METRO STATIONS ARE BEST AVOIDED IF YOU ARE A WOMAN TRAVELLING ALONE.. THESE ARE..GARE DU NORD AND STRASBOURG ST DENIS..PLUS CHATELET LES HALLES,
THIS IS THE BUSIEST METRO STATION IN THE WORLD..ITS A HIVE OF ACTIVITY DURING THE DAY, BUT LATE AT NIGHT YOU DONT WANT TO FIND YOURSELF LOST IN ITS WARREN OF TUNNELS.
LIKE TRAVEL IN MOST MAJOR CITIES I FIND THAT A LITTLE COMMON SENSE KEEPS YOU OUT OF TROUBLE AND LEAVES YOU FREE TO ENJOY YOUR TRIP.
when you are in Paris for a few days, it is prudent to get a carnet of cards..and they come in handy as you travel about, since there are almsot always lines at the ticket counters and machines may not be working to spew out tickets, which are slightly more expensive.
unfortunately the magnetized strip can easily loose its contents if you put your carnet with a mobile phone or a bunch of keys. right now i have about twenty metro tickets and i cant use them and each time find ways of using them.. sometimes requesting someone to let you through..
Though the metro and bus system in Paris are excellent, I find that I have one very big complaint. Unlike New York and Washington, DC, you cannot transfer from bus to metro or metro to bus. But you can transfer from bus to bus or bus to tram within 90 minutes and you can only do this one time.
As every large city even Paris has crime.
Pickpockets are active on the RER, the train, specially from the airport of Charles de Gaulle to downtown.
The flea market is "designed" to make pickpocketing easy and these "gangs" can spot victims pretty easy.
But.. there are some areas for example like Barbès where it's better for you not to hand around alone during the night. In these areas, it all depends on the way you behave.
Specially beware of women and children dressed like "homeless" and asking you if you can speak English. If you answer yes they'll show you a card with a story explaining basically that one of the parents are in the hospital somewhere in the world really hill and they are stuck in Paris with no money.
You'll find that specially at the main train and metro stations (Gare du Nord, Châtelet-Les Halles) and also around the main touristic attractions.
you could really get lost here looking for exits and there are so many of them. If you enter by the wrong entrance you could end up walking and climbing for a while.
In general, Paris stations are not luggage friendly and if you have more than one piece, take a taxi
It makes a huge difference sometimes to your advantage, sometimes to your disadvantage to book tickets from Eurostar as different nationality and check all services. Some services are not available to European residents, some prices are higher for overseas and sometimes the Eurostar looks like a pretty sophisticated... rip off.
It is forbidden to differentiate between nationalities (i.e. an Australian citizen should get the same price as an Estonian) - but it is not forbidden to "differenciate" between the markets. It's a borderline Eurostar and Thalys are walking between illegality and legality - but you can use it to your advantage.
It's always worth to change the citizenship/country of residence and check again the prices - you will be surprised. (Suggested "alternative" country of residence: Germany). Once booked as either German or Australian you can pick up the ticket with your reference number regardless of the citizenship: it would be illegal to differentiate.
Unfortunately many travelers are afraid thinking, that would be illegal. The case is just the opposite: it is illegal to ask one or the other pay more for the same service or make certain service unavailable to the other.
Besides... if you look at Eurostar web site: only few "citizenships" are available. For instance, Estonian or Hungarian is not. Both Estonia and Hungary is within the E.U., so that would make any logically thinking person aware: the entire "residence" process is a bogus.
I was going to board the high speed train to Valence, and my reservation dropped down under a wagon (in English, the train car) and when the conductor came through, I had to pay a fine. I wasn't the only one having problems. An African gentleman dressed in awesome African dress was told that he should have checked baggage, and had too much luggage, and got a big fine.
It was July, and the trek from the airport to the nearby gare was rough, and there were no signs pointing out where the gare was. And the escalator wasn't working, and I just couldn't make it up, and everyone was passing by me. A man picked up my luggage, walked it up the escalator and handed it to me at the top. I am thankful he was trustworthy.
When I arrived in Valence the French family I was visiting picked me up. While we were traveling Thurs - Midnight Sunday I turned my ankle the first day at Pont du Gard. I hobbled on it until Tuesday when it was xrayed. Only good thing about that was that the husband had to travel with me to Paris to carry my luggage. When we had to change trains to go to the airport a woman was kind enough to tell us that the part of the train we needed to get on was quite a ways from where we were standing, and I appreciated that so much. The husband gave me a book about my ancestor Emanuel Sieyes who was involved in the French Revolution. He had bought it just prior to my visit, without knowing he was my ancestor. He felt that would do a bit to make my spoiled vacation more memorable.
We travelled on The Paris Metro in July 2007 between Gare du Nord and Montparnanse. It was an incredibly intimidating and stressful experience. At Gare du Nord we struggled to buy metro tickets from a machine - a lady of Romanian origin? stepped in to "assist" - she gave us two tickets and took EUR3 from us. At Montparnasse we were stopped by ticket inspecters - we had been sold children's "carnet" tickets! We were told that we should be fined (something in the region of EUR20) however when we explained the circumstances we were allowed to proceed.
On our way back at gare du Nord we were accosted every few minutes by aggressive ticket conmen - one was of African origin; the one pictured below - bald, stripy shirt, jeans was of Arab origin.
On London Underground there are are staff at every set of ticket gates. There were none on the Paris Metro. There were no Police around either. I was left with the impression that the Paris Metro is a pretty lawless place where pick pockets (see other warnings) and ticket conmen prey on tourists with no official intervention.
Ladies be warned! It was winter, so everyone had heavy coats and jackets. I was on the metro with my sister sitting close to the doors. The metro stopped, people got off and on. Well, a guy came on and stood in front of me, there were plenty of seats, so he could have sat down. He wasn't facing me, but looking towards the doors. To my shock he has his, I'll call it his "friend", out of his pants! He had angled himself so his friend would be in my view, but still covered by his puff jacket. I was disgusted!!!What a perve! Well, I moved myself and my sister away from him.
Be careful when you use the Metro, having the wrong ticket for the wrong amount of zones will automatically get you a €25 (euro) Fine!
If you are going to be exploring especially in the outskirts always get a 3 zone, its not much more than a 2 zone.
There is a link for english too, for more info.
(I know this through experience as by default the provide a 2 zone pass to tourists and I was working in La Defense and getting the RATP train).
UPDATE MARCH 12, 2007: I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. Today 4 men got on the bus and checked our tickets. Fortunately I had mine in my hand. Do not throw your ticket away until after you have exited the metro station or the bus. Periodically, in the passageways of the metro, you will find metro police checking your ticket to see if it is current. They will also board the bus to do the same and there is no sneaking off. Once they board they do not let anyone off.
UPDATE APRIL 23, 2007: Since the last update I have been stopped several more times. Please take this seriously.
Pigalle is not a place you are happy to end in the middle of the night...or day.
We ended there by mistake and luckily some elder Spaniards had the same problem, so we just formed a group and walked together. It is not the nicest place, full of strange people...I am definitely not a racist or something but people didn't look nice and weren't acting nice towards us...I wasn't so scared for a long long time!
All I am saying is don't go there alone!
Don't be fooled by kind hearted strangers offering to purchase tickets from the automatic vending machines around this or any other large station complex,particularly if your not too sure of payment proceedures.They will ask you for far more than the actual ticket price,confuse and argue with you and just vanish before you realise what's happening!! Buy a ticket at the counter for peace of mind.