France

Le Metro Paris – A Mini Guide

A post by Vicki Archer of French Essence where she describes her love of the Parisian Metro reminded me that I had this half-written post that needed to be finished. While visiting Paris one of the best ways to get around is the Metro. The system is quite expansive and it is cheap (in comparison with U.S. city systems).

To make your use of the Metro the best experience possible, I have a few tips for you!

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[1] Plan ahead.

If at all possible, figure out where you need to go ahead of time. It can be stressful to try to figure out the station you need to go to from the map on the wall, particularly when several people are trying to look at it at once. If that is not possible, do make sure you know the route you need to take by knowing the two terminus’ (end points) on the line as well as the number. It is really not that scary once you know those points. Here is a map to help you plan.

[2] Prepare for transfers

Depending on where you are going, you may need to do several transfers. Just be cautious when transferring to know the terminus names for the line you are transferring to and you will be fine!

[3] Avoid riding the metro at rush hour

Avoid riding the metro at rush hour (8:00-10:00 a.m.; 5:00-8:00 p.m.). Metro lines 1, 2, 4, 11, 12, and 13 are generally the most overcrowded lines. Also, if the weather turns bad, be prepared for crowded trains a la Tokyo!

[4] A single ticket is good for one entire trip, even if you transfer.

Hold onto your ticket until you get to your destination. If you are going to be in Paris for several days and riding the metro frequently, it is best to buy a “carnet” (carn-ay), a book of 10 tickets. You can also purchase a Paris Visite ticket, which is 1-5 day passes that allow you unlimited travel. There is a different ticket price if you are traveling to or from the airports (although I do not recommend doing that, more on that below).

[5] Be aware of your personal space.

Put bags in front of you, close to your body, not only is this polite, it is safer for your belongings. If it is crowded, do not pull down the fold-out chairs by the door.

[6] Luggage on the metro

Lastly, luggage. Many, many, many of the metro stations have sets of stairs like this:

Metro-stairs

It is not conducive to lugging your suitcase up or down. Not only suitcases but anything bulky, like a stroller, etc. Although people do it! Also, without elevators, it is not cool for those who have physical disabilities which might make climbing stairs tricky.

The whole system is a historical treat having opened in 1900 and still going strong! The metro system really is a fabulous way to get around Paris. Many of the stations are just gorgeous to look at. Also, many of the exterior Metro signs like these are gorgeous photo opportunities:

Metro-sign-1
Metro-sign-2

I definitely encourage you to take advantage of this transportation option, especially if you love to people-watch.

I have written an entire guide on the Metro in Paris!

How about you? Have any good metro stories?

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6 Comments

  1. Those stairs bring back memories of exploring Paris – I loved the many buskers that added such ambiance . Many times when I travelled in Paris with my heavy suit-case I would feel the weight lighten and look around to find a lovely French lady behind had lifted the back of the case to help me up the stairs – how lovely and kind. with a smile they were on their way. Merci Beacoup !
    Dianne

  2. Plus it’s the most effective public transportation system I’ve ever used. Yes, the stairs are definitely frustrating and awful as a traveler, but you can’t beat the efficiency. Puts London’s tube and the NYC subway on a whole other scale.

  3. Wow, those stairs. I’d be toast with my strollers. I’m tired looking at them, but the signs, they are divine. So, is there no Americans with Disabilities act in France?

  4. @Kezia, I have actually seen that happen, and it is so nice to observe.
    @Jen, not really. They are starting to think about it more, but it is really very, very difficult for people with disabilities to move around Paris.
    @Jake, thanks so much! I love your blog as well because I get insight to an area of France that I adore!

  5. Ah, the metro. The public transportation in Paris is one thing I really do miss – it made getting around so easy! Plus, with the carte orange (or I guess the Navigo now), it’s just swish and go! 🙂

    I once got a marriage proposal on the train…I think it was on the 4 up near Barbès-Rochechouart…”ah, jolie fille….” 🙂 oh, the memories…