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The Paris Metro

The Paris Metro

The Paris Metro

What most people consider as the Paris Metro is a combination of two rail systems - the Metro itself and the RER. The system is very popular and well run and has very frequent services.

The Metro

The Paris Metro is one of the most extensive systems in the world and features stations very close together in the centre, making it easy to find and get to a station. Because it is such a large network, with an extensive number of stations and relatively cheap fares, the Metro is bonded tightly into the fabric of the city, making an indispensable way to travel around Paris.

There are fourteen Metro lines around Paris, numbered 1 to 14, and colour coded to help the traveller. The lines are also described by their endpoints which brings us to an important point - which train to catch?

To make life simpler, get a map. There are paper copies available as well as several apps for your phone. Find out where your intended destination is and the end point of the line beyond it is the direction in which you want to go. Once you are in the station, there are no signs in the stations to tell you which train to catch apart from the stations names at the endpoints of line.

So, having worked out which line end you are heading for, follow the signs to that location and you will arrive on the correct platform. Some lines branch so either end point will do for stations before the split. Otherwise check the train as it comes into the platform. If you make a mistake some stations require you to exit to re-enter again to travel in the right direction. This can cost you in extra tickets and fares.

The Metro Lines

Line 1 - La Defense to Chateau d Vincinnes. Popular visitor stops are La Défense (Arc de Défense), Charles de Gaulle-Etoile (Arc de Triomphe), L'Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, Louvre, Champs-Elysées, Chatelet, Hôtel de Ville and Bastille.

Line 2 - Port Dauphin to Nation. Popular visitor stops are Charles de Gaulle-Étoile (Arc de Triomphe), Blanche (Moulin Rouge), Anvers (for Sacre Coeur), Gare du Nord (Eurostar), Père-Lachaise and Nation (Place de la Nation).

Paris Metro Map

The Metro & RER Map

Line 3 - Pont de Levallois to Gallieni. Popular visitor stops are St. Lazare, Opera, République (Place de la République) and Père-Lachaise.

Line 4 - Porte de Clignancourt to Porte d'Orléans (Mairie do Montrouge from 2013). Popular visitor stops are Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, Chatelet, Cité (Notre-Dame), St. Michel (Notre-Dame and Latin Quarter), Saint-Germain des Prés, St-Placide (Luxembourg Gardens) and Montparnasse (Montparnasse Tower and Cafe Quarter).

Line 5 - Bobigny Pablo Picasso to Place d'Italie. Popular visitor stops are Place d'Italie, Gare d'Austerlitz, Bastille, République (Place de la République), Gare de l’Est, Gare du Nord and Porte de Pantin (Parc de la Villette).

Line 6 Charles de Gaulle-Étoile to Nation. Popular visitor stops are Charles de Gaulle-Étoile (Arc de Triomphe), Trocadéro (get off here to walk across river direct to Eiffel Tower), Bir-Hakeim (Eiffel Tower), Montparnasse (Montparnasse Tower and Cafe Quarter), Place d'Italie, Bercy and Nation (Place de la Nation).

Together with Line 2, Line 6 forms a loop around Paris, Line 2 for northern half and Line 6 the southern half - see Metro Views.

Line 7 - La Courneuve to Villejuif-Louis Aragon and Mairie d'Ivry. At the southern end the line branches at Maison Blanche. Popular visitor stops are Porte de la Villette (Parc de la Villette), Gare de l’Est, Opera, Louvre, Chatelet and Place d'Italie.

Line 7 bis - Louis Blanc to Pré Saint-Gervais. A separate branch of Line 7 connecting Metro lines together in the suburbs.

Line 8 - Balard to Pointe du Lac (Créteil). Popular visitor stops are École militaire (École militaire, the Champ de Mars and the Eiffel Tower), Invalides (Napoleon’s Tomb), Concorde (Place de la Concorde), Opera, Place de la République, Bastille and Porte Dorée (Vincennes Wood and Vincennes Zoo).

Line 9 - Pont de Sèvres to Mairie de Montreuil. Popular visitor stops are Trocadéro (get off here to walk across river direct to Eiffel Tower), Franklin D Roosevelt (Champs-Élysées), République (Place de la République) and Nation (Place de la Nation).

Line 10- Boulogne to Gare d'Austerlitz. Popular visitor stops are St. Michel (Notre-Dame and Latin Quarter), La Sorbonne and Gare d'Austerlitz.

Line 11 - Châtelet to Mairie des Lilas. Popular visitor stops are Chatelet, Hôtel de Ville, République (Place de la République) and Belleville (one of Paris’s chinatowns).

Line 12 - Front Populaire to Mairie d'Issy. Popular visitor stops are Abbesses (Montmartre), Saint-Lazare, Concorde, Solférino (Musée d'Orsay) and Montparnasse. Line 12 interconnects with 9 other Metro lines plus the RER.

Line 13 - Châtillon-Montrouge to Saint-Denis-Université and Les Courtilles. Popular visitor stops are Montparnasse, Invalides (Napoleon’s Tomb), Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau, Saint-Lazare, Saint-Ouen (flea market) and Basilique de Saint-Denis.

Line 14 - Saint-Lazare to Olympiades. Popular visitor stops are Saint-Lazare, Madeleine, Chatelet, Gare de Lyon and Bibliothèque Nationale.

Views from the Metro

On Line 2 between Barbès – Rochechouart and Jaurès stations and Line 6 are elevated and give views of Paris as you travel above the streets.

The RER

The RER

The RER Network

The RER is an express commuter train service that extends out to furthest reaches of Paris including Charles de Gaulle airport and Disneyland Paris.

Using the RER is a faster way to get through the centre of Paris as it has fewer stops and travels at higher speeds. It is also great if you want to avoid traffic when visiting Paris by parking on the edge and getting a fast train right into the centre. The RER also has the closest station to the Eiffel Tower.

In the centre of Paris, there are major interchange stations between the RER lines and the Metro too. These are very busy and also very large so allow plenty of time to change trains or leave the station. The biggest interchange station is Chatelet/Chatelet-les-Halles which is actually two stations combined into a sprawling underground complex serving 3 RER lines and 5 Metro lines.

The RER has five lines, identified by letters A to E, which are also colour coded. Like the Metro, you identify the direction of travel by the destination. A word of warning though - as the lines leave the centre of Paris they branch, so make sure you check the destination on the train.

RER Lines

Line A running west to east from La Défense and St. Germain en Laye to Marne la Vallée in the east. Marne la Vallée is also known as Disneyland Paris. Interchange stations at Chatelet and Gare de Lyon.

Line B runs north east to south west across Paris from Charles de Gaulle Airport and Mitry-Claye in the north to Robinson and Saint-Remy les-Chevrease in the south. There is a connection via Anthony station and the OrlyVal rail connection to Orly Airport; an extra fare applies for the OrlyVal service. Connects in Paris at Chatelet-les-Halles, Gare du Nord and St Michael Notre-Dame.

Line C is the most complex RER line having a circular route south of the Seine plus a branch to the north west of Paris at Pontoise. The line is also popular with visitors with stations at the Eiffel Tower, Musee d'Orsay, Notre-Dame and out at Versailles - the first three are only a few minutes apart on Line C. The main interchange is at St Michael Notre-Dame but intersects with most Metro lines too.

Line D goes north south through the centre of Paris. Starting at Orry-la-Ville in the northern suburbs, it travels south to Melun and Malesherbes. There are interchange stations at Chatelet, Gae du Nord and Gare de Lyon.

Line E starts in the western centre of Paris at the Gare Saint-Lazare running east to Chelles Gournay and southeast to Tournan. Main interchange at Gare du Nord.

The RER operates between approximately 5:15 a.m. to just after midnight. The trains run on a timetable, so check before you travel.

Fares

In Paris, as in many other cities, the lines are zoned so you can use common tickets for both the Metro and the RER as long as you are in the right zones. The RER extends beyond the zoned area so you need to purchase the correct ticket to include these sections as well. If you are travelling to or from Paris airports, you will need to buy the relevant airport ticket.

There are several ways of buying tickets or ticket passes depending on what you are doing and how long you are staying. Some make it much cheaper to visit attractions too. They can be purchased at any Metro, RER or Tramway station, plus many newsagents and tabacs too.

There are automated ticket machines all over the Network but you will need a debit card or the exact change to buy the ticket. Automated ticket machines are generally multi lingual - just press the button on the screen for your language. They are also not as user friendly as they could be.

If you need to pay with notes, you will need to visit a Vente (ticket office). Information booths are just that, for information. They will not be able to sell you a ticket but can point you in the direction of the nearest ticket machine.

Paris buses also require exact change so, if you are doing a lot of travelling in Paris, check the fares and take the money in change with you for bot the Metro and the buses.

T+ Tickets

These are one trip tickets only and are allowed on all Metro and Zone 1 RER lines only. They are also valid on buses in the Île-de-France, except Orlybus and Roissybus, tramways and the Montmartre funicular.

Use these only for one off trip. If you are visiting several sites and attractions or staying over for a few days, there are better offers and passes.

Origine-Destination Tickets

These are for travel one way between any two stations on the RER network. Tickets to or from Paris allow you to use the metro and RER in Paris. They can be purchased from RER and Metro stations.

If you are staying for a few days, or have a large group, you can buy these tickets in books of ten - Origine-Destination en carnet - which gives a 20% discount on the price.

Forfait Paris Visite (Paris Visite Pass)

Paris Visite Pass

The Paris Visite Pass

The Paris Visite Pass is ideal if you want to make the most of Paris as you can make unlimited journeys in the Zones on the card. This is the one we would recommend for the Paris visitor.

You can choose the number of consecutive days the pass is valid for - 1, 2, 3 or 5 days. A day begins at 05:30 and ends at 05:30 the following day. You also have a choice of zone area - zones 1 to 3 or 1 to 6. Most attractions are in zones 1 to 3 so, unless you are planning to travel further, then a 1 to 3 zone card will be good enough.

There are also child passes at a discounted price for children between 4 and 12 years old.

The pass comes in two parts, the magnetic ticket (used in the ticket gates) and the pass card. Before travelling write the serial number of your magnetic ticket on the pass card along with your name and the start and end dates you want to use it for. Keep both parts on you at all times when travelling.

Advantages

Discounted rate

Buy in advance so no queuing at busy Paris stations.

A Paris Visite Pass will also get you discounts at attractions, shopping and shows. Check current offers at time of travelling.

When we last went to Paris, we also found a Paris Visite Pass entrance at bigger attractions enabling you to skip the queues. This saved us an hour at the Louvre. These change and the Louvre Pass entrance wasn’t well sign posted, so keep a good look out.

Depending on which zone pass you select, Paris Visite allows you to travel on:

  • metro lines
  • RER lines (RATP and SNCF)
  • Ile-de-France bus lines (RATP and OPTILE), except Jetbus, Allobus Roissy CDG, tourist excursion and Air France networks
  • the Orlyval line (linking Orly Airport to the RER B)
  • the Montmartre funicular (saving you a climb up the long steps)

Mobilis

A Mobilis ticket gives you unlimited travel for one day in a selected area. You can use the Metro and RER plus Bus, Tram and Train in the Île-de-France except Orlyval, Orlybus, Roissy, Orly and Roissy by RER.

The ticket is valid from 05:30 on the day of travel to 01:00 the next day.

Before using, enter your name and date of travel on the ticket for it to be valid.

Ticket Jeunes Week-end

This ticket is for under 26 year olds only.

A Ticket Jeunes Week-end ticket gives you unlimited travel in a selected area only on Saturdays, Sundays and nominated holidays. You can use the Metro, and RER plus Bus, Tram and Train in the Île-de-France except Orlyval, Orlybus, Roissy, Orly and Roissy by RER.

The ticket is valid from 05:30 on the day of travel to 02:30 the next day.

Before using, enter your name and date of travel on the ticket for it to be valid.

Other Fares

There are other fares such as season tickets for a week, month or year for those who require more time in Paris. All have a discounted rate. For the best offers, visit the local station and speak to the ticket office.

Which Ticket?

We would always recommend the Paris Visite Pass for anyone planning to see the sights of Paris as it makes life simpler and cheaper.

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