How to ride the Paris métro

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The Paris subway is undoubtedly the best way to get from point A to point B in Paris – if there are no strikes.

Buying a ticket

First, get a ticket from the automated machines located in almost every subway station. You can get one ticket at a time, or save money in buying 10 tickets – un carnet de tickets – at once.

You can also get a Navigo[1] pass – le passe Navigo – a card with a chip – that requires no actual contact with the reader post – la borne. There are two types of Navigo passes – weekly and monthly – that grant you an unlimited number of trips within that period of time.

Note that any subway/RER[2] ticket or pass also works in the bus/tramway, but that you can’t use both means of transportation – i.e. a trip part subway-part bus – with the same ticket.

There are six Zones to consider when purchasing a ticket. Most Parisian visitors will stay in la zone 1, inside Paris. La zone 2 opens up your traveling possibilities, and so on and so forth up to la zone 6 that covers towns up to 80 km (about 50 miles) outside Paris.

Getting around in the stations

There is nothing to taking the Paris métro. Once you passed the turnstile, look at the name of the station you are at, and the name of the last station at the end of the line where you want to go to. You’ll notice that that last station also has a color and a number. Follow the last station/color/number’s direction all the way to your destination. Sometimes, you have a change or two to get to your destination. The signs are everywhere and really easy to follow. In some stations, you have an electronic map. I would recommend you ask for a paper map in the information booths. There are well made and free. I use them all the time, even though I’m used to the system.

Related: Miles vs. Kilometers

Video: How to ride the Paris Metro (the commentary is very useful)


[1] also called la carte orange – the orange card

[2] the RER – réseau express Régional – is the rapid transit Paris transportation that goes outside Paris




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