Fortunately for visitors traveling to Paris, public transportation in Paris is well established and easy to navigate (even if you don’t speak French!). They have a clean and affordable Metro with a Metro stop only a 3-5 minute walk from anywhere in Paris. The Paris Metro offers a quick way to travel across the city and see the different Museums and Landmarks. For trips further outside of Paris in the surrounding suburbs visitors may also use the Paris RER that provides regional access via commuter rail trains. This rail system runs alongside the Paris Metro within zones 1, 2, and 3 and provides visitors with another option to travel around not just Paris but also the surrounding towns and cities at an inexpensive and affordable price.
Among the best forms of Transportation in Paris are the 16 Métro lines: 1-14, 3bis, and 7bis. Métro trains run all day between 5:00am and 12:30am and until 1:30am on Saturday and Sunday. Each train will stop at all stations on the line but be careful because many try to save energy costs by having riders manually open doors at each stop. Most of the platforms have an electronic scrollboard that displays the time until the next Train arrives. Scheduled times for first and last trains are posted in each station on the centre sign. Generally, except for early and late hours, travelers should not worry about specific Metro train times; just get to your station and take the next train. Trains usually come 2-3 minutes apart during rush hour and 5-10 minutes apart during other times, depending on the line.
If you need to find Transportation in Paris that will take you outside the city, the Paris RER consists of five commuter train lines: RER A, B, C, D, and E. The Paris RER typically runs at intervals of about 8-10 minutes, and stop at every RER stationwithin Paris as well as providing regional access. Although a regular subway ticket can be used within Paris (Zone 1), it is necessary to pass the ticket through the turnstile when passing between the subway and the RER lines, as the two systems are separate networks. This ticket is necessary to enter and exit the RER networks, as the RER trains travel on to the Parisian suburbs, outside the zone where a regular subway ticket can be used. Travel outside the city centre without a valid RER ticket will get you fined, and the packs of inspectors who roam the system show no mercy to tourists pleading ignorance. In particular, Charles de Gaulle airport is not within the city; you must purchase an RER ticket to get there
Other Transportation in Paris
The Metro and the RER are not the only forms of transportation in Paris. You can also walk the city freely and multiple major museums and landmarks can be seen each day on foot if you plan your trip accordingly. Travel smart and take advantage of the walk-ability of Paris. Staying above ground as much as possible will get you to your destination quickly and allows you become more familiar with Paris. A Metro ride of less than 2 stops is probably best avoided since walking will take about the same amount of time and you’ll be able to see more of the city. While walking, pay attention to the Métro stations that you will most likely pass on your trip; the Métro network is very dense within the city and the lines are virtually always located directly underneath major boulevards, so if you become lost it should be a rather easy and quick process to regain your bearings until you find a Métro station.
Renting a bike is a very good alternative form of transportation in Paris and an excellent way to see the sights. Riding a bike anywhere in the city is far safer for the moderately experienced cyclists than almost any town or city in the United States. The French are very cognizant of cyclists, almost to a point of reverence. A few years ago Paris wasn’t the easiest place to get around by bike but that has changed quite a bit in the more recent years. Parisian government has taken a number of steps in strong support of improving the safety and efficiency of the urban cyclist as well as establishing some separated bike lanes but, even more importantly, instituted a policy of allowing cyclists to share the ample bus lanes on most major boulevards. You will find many roads are lined with Bike Lanes that gives access along major roads for bikers.
Paris also has many riversides which are perfect for cycling. The Paris bike network now counts over 150 km of either unique or shared lanes for the cyclist. In addition, the narrower, medieval side streets of the central arrondissements make for rather scenic and leisurely cycling, especially during off-peak hours of the day when traffic is lighter.
Since the Métro is primarily structured around a hub-and-spoke model, there are some journeys for which it can be quite inefficient, and in these cases, it is worth seeing if a direct bus route exists. A bus ride is also fun if you want to see more Paris. You will find the Parisian bus system to be tourist-friendly and clean. It uses the same single-ride tickets and Navigo as the Métro, and electronic displays inside each bus tell riders its current position and what stops remain, eliminating a lot of confusion.
These same payment devices are also valid in the Noctilien, the night bus. Night buses run regularly through the central hub at Chatelet to outlying areas of greater Paris. There is also a circle line connecting the main train stations. Women travelers should probably avoid taking the Noctilien on their own to destinations outside Paris as it can become quite unsafe.
Another option for travelers who want to see the sights of Paris without a stop on every street corner is the Paris L’Opentour Bus. This open-topped double-decker bus brings tourists to different destinations around Paris and also supplies headsets with the most up to date information on the attractions in Paris. Your ticket is good for four routes ranging in time from 1-2 h. Get off when you want, stay as long as you need, get back on the bus and head for another site. You can purchase tickets at the bus stop or some allow you to purchase right on the bus.
Taxis are also a great form of transportation in Paris and are comparatively cheap, especially at night when there are no traffic jams to be expected. If you happen to miss the last Metro train, a Taxi is a quick, affordable solution since traffic will be virtually non-existent. Sometimes finding a taxi can be challenging because they are not the primary method of transportation in Paris. In the daytime, due to traffic it’s not always the best idea to take a taxi, as walking or taking the metro will often be faster. If you know you will need one to get to the airport, or to a meeting, it is wise to book ahead by phone (see below).
There are a number of services by which you can call for taxis or make a reservation in advance.
- Transport Parisien (transfert roissy), +33 (0)6 61 57 43 53
- Taxis aéroport de Paris (airport transfer), +33 (0) 6 58 79 38 87
- Taxi Paris (taxi roissy), +33 (0)6 58 79 38 87