Paris has a very efficient and huge public transport system with 14 metro lines
and lots of buses. RATP is the only compagny to run metros, buses and RER except
for the C RER line, ran by SNCF as suburban service. But whatever is the journey
you do within Paris proper, you use the same ticket.
Three different maps are available for free at metro ticket windows : Le Grand Plan de Paris with the complete network and the streets, Le Petit Plan de Paris more pratical and Paris Plan de Poche small map easy to have in the pocket.
Metro runs between 6:00 am and 1:00 am on weekdays and between 6:00am and 2:15am
on Fridays and Saturdays.
Metro network is quite simple to use. Each line has a number from 1 to 14 with two directions each. The direction is the final station of the line. On one platform all trains have the same destination except for lines 7 and 13, but next train direction is clearly indicated. Maps of metro, bus or RER networks can be found at every platform and neibourhood maps are either on platform or in the exit hall.
Remumber that most metro stations are close to each other and connecting corridors can be very long and stairs endless. So it's often quicker to walk if the journey is less than three stations long.
As easy is the metro to use, as the buses network is complicated : even
a map is impossible to display on internet. The site of RATP
have one, but it is very simplified and not very usefull to plan a journey.
The only reliable maps can be found on bus stops where you can follow lines
numbers and colours. Most lines operate from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm on weekdays,
some lines stopping around midnight. About half lines don't operate on Sundays
and public holidays.
To enter in a bus (by front door) you have to wave at the driver. The fare is one ticket whatever long is the journey within Paris proper. The ticket is the same than the metro and can be found by 10 in metro stations or by 1 by the driver. The ticket is available one hour and a half for connections between buses or between tram and buses, but not between metro and buses. The ticket sold on board buses marked sans correspondance does not allow for connections. A map inside buses and bus stops shows every stop of the line. "Arrêt demandé" (stop signal) is lit by pressing a red button for the next stop.
The new mayor of Paris (gay but there is nothing to do with it !) manage a new public transport policy to help buses and bicycles, reserving for them a large band of road. But rush hours are still awful and, like everywhere, you'd better avoid buses in these hours.
The rest of time, bus is the more pleasant way to travel in Paris and to see wonderfull things for the price of a ticket.
Some lines are particularly nice :
- 72 line follow the river Seine from Maison de la Radio to Hotel de ville. (See the visit that Paris-Gay.Com propose in this same route.)
- 20 line links Gare de Lyon to Gare St Lazare running through great places like La Bastille, Place de la République, Grands Boulevards or Place de l'Opéra...
- 29 line follow quite the same route, avoiding Grands boulevards but ruuning through Beaubourg pompidou Center and Le Marais.
- 73 line follows "La voie royale" (Royal Way) from Musee d'Orsay to La Defense driving up Les Champs Elysées.
Two others services can be interesting :
- Balabus, Witch is a touristic bus, running from mid-April to mid-September, on Sundays and public holidays, from noon to 9pm. For the fare of a simple ticket, it transports tourists from La Défense to Gare de Lyon running through principal touristic places.
- Noctiliens, night bus service, has just been greatly improved. There can be now bus every ten minutes all night long during week end nights. A special fare occures. This buses can be overcrowded but are practical when metros are closed. More infos on the RATP website here
RER "Reseau Express Régional" (Suburban Express Service) can
be used within city limits with the same ticket. For long distance journeys,
it can be a quicker alternative to metro. For suburban destination, special
tickets are required.
Remumber that, unlike metro, RER ask for your ticket to go OUT. So if you go from metro to RER, you will have to validate the ticket to enter the metro, then to validate it again to enter the RER and at last to validate it again to go out of the RER ! So Keep your ticket until you leave the network. There is no way to pay an extra before leaving RER if you have no ticket or a wrong ticket (with an exception at Disneyland Resort Paris)!
RER lines are known by a letter and a name which indicate the train destination. Posters displayed on the platform show which train go where, for unlike metro, different directions can stop at the same platform. In most stations, electronic destination boards indicate the stops of the next train.
The system is no simple nor clear, even for parisians. Don't hesitate to ask for assitance.
Tickets are sold by one(
1.70 €) or by 10 (
13.30 €). They can be used for "section urbaine" (within city limits) that
means all metro stops and some close suburban bus stops. To reach suburban zones
in RER, special tickets are required. You can find ticket carnet in metro stations
or in some tobacconists. Bus drivers only sell ticket by one. The ticket is
good for a two hours travel with all the connectings you want except in buses.
Travel passes can be used for unlimited travel in metro, buses, RER, and even suburban trains if you want. But it is not always the cheapest solution. If you don't travel a lot in the transport network, ticket carnets can be cheaper !
The former "Carte Orange" is now on the new pass Navigo.
It's a new pass much more practicle and quick to validate. You can keep it in its case or even in your bag to validate. You just need to make it close enough.
Visitors can buy "pass Navigo decouverte" at RATP desks or in some shops with the RATP logo. It costs 5 € and goes with a card with your name and photo.
This card is valid on all Inside Paris transportation network for one day. No photo required. 6.40 €
Paris Visite is a unique pass to discover Paris and around. It allows :
- unlimited travels in all transportation network : metro, RER, bus, tram, Montmartre funiculary, Montmartrobus, Noctambus (night buses), suburbs trains, bus ADATRIF et APTR (suburbs buses), in the zones you choose (1-3 to 1-8). With zones 1 to 8, it goes to Disneyland Paris, Versailles or airports..
- travels during 1, 2, 3, or 5 days .
- 50% reduction for 4 to 11 yo children.
- easy buying : no photo.
More infos, fares, maps on the RATP website.