The Paris Metro and The Paris Bus, 10 steps to getting around Paris.
I don’t want to look like a Tourist.
I get this all the time. At the end of the day, you are a tourist, and it is okay. You are an amazingly cool person who actually takes interest in other cultures and traveling for pleasure. The first step is admitting it. If you are like me, when visiting a European City, you like to try to do it as close to the ” locals” as possible. Ok let’s face it, maybe locals don’t walk around with their nose in a map, marveling at every single thing they see at every turn, but they do take public transportation. Tourists should too. It is a great way to combine seeing all the sights while grasping the lay of the land, something that is vital if you are visiting Paris once or will be staying for a while.
Let’s get right down to business. If you want to get somewhere quick take the metro. If you want to get somewhere while being able to see the beautiful city at the same time, take the bus. The bus is also unfortunately the only option if you are in a wheelchair as the Parisian metro is quite lacking in the equality for reduced mobility travelers.
Let’s start with the bus as many people are intimidated by the bus. So much so, that even the most savvy travelers tend to stay away and prefer the metro or taxi as transportation. My question is why? The bus is so easy to take once you get the hang of it. Let me show you how.
How to travel in Paris by Bus
1. If you want detailed directions on the bus and how to get from A to B, simply visit the public transportation website. Please click the link below.
2. Click on “Traveling,” in the upper right hand corner.
3. Select “Routes,” in the choices offered.
4. Enter your “From” or departure address, for example the address of your hotel or apartment rental. You can also simply add a monument or museum such as the Louvre or Arc de Triomphe.
5. Enter your “To” or arrival address, again it can be an exact address someone gave you, or just the name if it is well-known.
6. Enter your prefered departure time, an estimation is fine.
7. Then under mode select “bus/tramway” and to the right of that you can select if you prefer the quickest route, the least amount of changes, or the least amount of walking.
8. Then hit the “search,” button. This will show you a quick picture of your route and the amount of time it will take.
9. To see the details click on “show the detail of the route”.
Here is a screen shot of what it looks like . As an example, I chose the Arc de Triomphe to the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Just click on it for a better view.
10. Anytime it tells you to walk, click the small circle map icon on the right hand side of the directions. (see below)
Once you take the bus a couple of times, you will start to recognize the bus routes and bus numbers. All of sudden it is no longer intimidating.
All of a sudden it is fun. You may also see things en route that make you want to get out before your pre-determined destination and visit the surrounding areas.
And guess what? Instead of spending 30 Euros on a ticket for a “Hop on/ Hop off” bus tour, you just spent 2 Euros and can transfer to as many buses as you like in the span of one hour. Now that makes it even MORE fun doesn’t it?
Speaking of tickets, they are same tickets used on the metro, so no need to buy special bus tickets. Scroll down to see where to buy metro/ bus tickets in Paris.
How to Travel in Paris by Metro
Now for the Paris Metro. Tis as easy as the bus, and many people think it is even easier. If you don’t mind being underground then this is for you!
Do you have a smart phone? Just download the “Visit Paris By Metro,” application and you can get suggested routes and itineraries. It even has an offline option for those of that cannot pay for expensive roaming in foreign lands.
For metro directions online, follow the exact directions for the bus I gave above only instead of choosing “bus/ tramway” in transport, choose the “Rail” option. All the rest is exactly the same.
Once you start using the metro you will also start to remember the main stops and use them the most frequently.
Who am I kidding, most of us end up walking everywhere anyway!
Where to Buy Metro and Bus Tickets
1. You can buy tickets or the Paris Visite passes (see below at number 4) at the Tourist Office located at 25 Rue des Pyramides, 75001 Paris. You can also buy tickets in any metro station from the automated machines or if you’re lucky sometimes there are even some humans occasionally still working at the ticket booths. If you forget to buy tickets beforehand you can also buy them one at a time on the bus.
2. Tickets for both metro and bus are one in the same. You can buy a pack of 10 tickets called a “carnet” pronounced carnay and use some for metro and some for bus transport, as you like.
3. Tickets are good for one hour in their perspective mode of transportation. You can change metros as many times as you like for up to one hour under ground. You can change buses also as many times as you like within the hour. However, once you come above ground from the metro, that ticket is no longer good and you will need a new one next time you go on the metro.
4. If you are planning on using the metro or bus a lot during your stay, get the Paris Visite Transportation Pass. This is for a consecutive day period and unlimited rides for those days. They come in 1,3, or 5 day passes. If you live in Paris you can get the Navigo Passes which are refillable weekly or monthly passes but take about 3 weeks to be delivered. Otherwise just get tickets in packs of 10 as mentioned above, the carnet.
5. Remember to keep your ticket with you the whole length of your journey meaning until you exit the metro station above ground. Sometimes there are workers to check your metro/ bus ticket. What happens if you threw your ticket out before you exit the metro station and get asked to show it? You pay a 35 euro fine on the spot with credit card. They don’t care if you are a tourist or local.
Some tips when taking the Metro or Bus in Paris
1. Big cities have pick pockets. It doesn’t matter if you try to be discreet instead of screaming to your friend standing right next to you that you, ” can’t believe the metro is not air-conditioned.” (It is not btw, and it is hot) Even locals get pick-pocketed so just be aware and keep your hand on your purse or keep your wallet close to you heart or in your front pocket if you’re a guy.
2. Many French people do not speak English. If you don’t speak French then ask, “Do you speak English?” This is a nice way to approach someone before spouting off about how you are completely lost and responded to with a blank look, or my favorite, someone spouting off to you in French as if you understand them.
3. When taking the metro or bus please remember that certain people are, by law, priority in France when riding the metro or bus. This means that if one of these people get on the bus, you should kindly get up and offer them your seat. These people include, people with reduced mobility, people over a certain age, and pregnant women.
4. Finally, when sitting in the folding chairs on the metro located near the doors you must stand up if the metro is crowded. These chairs are only for when there is space in the metro so better to sit on the chairs that do not fold if you don’t want to have to stand after hours of walking around.
I hope this helps you while visiting Paris, or starts you on your way if you have just moved to Paris!
I really don’t have the time or patience to read the above. It makes my head spin just skimming it.
Exactly, and that is why you are on my website. Remember, my awesome company Myriad will help you plan a fantastic trip to Paris, and take care of every single detail so you don’t have to. One of our Parisian experts will come meet you at your hotel or rental apartment to give you the low down on not only transportation, but all things concerning Paris to ensure you have an amazing vacation or easy transition when moving here.
Thanks for reading,