Using the Metro to Get Around Paris:
A very easy and affordable way to get around the city, there are many metro lines and stations throughout the city. In central Paris, there are 16 lines, numbered 1-14, with two secondary lines 3b and 7b. You can pick up a map from any of the customer service counters at any of the stations, or you can always do a quick internet search. We relied heavily on Google maps for planning our routes, which worked perfectly for us.here.
There are a few different options for purchasing tickets, which all depend on your length of stay, the frequency of metro rides, destinations, etc. A single use ticket, or Ticket t+, costs €1.90, and can be purchased at a machine (different languages available) or at the ticket window, either in cash or credit cards with a chip. You can also purchase a book of 10 tickets (called a “carnet”) at a discounted price (€14.50 instead of €19.00), which is what we purchased. Since I knew that I wanted to walk as much as possible, I thought the book of 10 tickets would be more useful for us. During our 10 day stay, we purchased the carnet twice and a single use ticket a couple of times.
According to the official RATP website, “[o]nce validated, the t+ ticket allows you to make as many transfers as you want on the metro and RER networks for 2 hours (after the first validation),” which we weren’t too sure of. We probably could have saved a couple of tickets here and there had we understood this and planned our routes a bit better.
If you know that you are staying in Paris for more than a week and plan to utilize the metro often, you may want to look into purchasing the Pass Navigo Decouverte, which is a contactless card, instead of a paper ticket. But do keep in mind that the ticket is valid from Monday to Sunday, instead of a continuous 7-day period, and you need a small picture of yourself and a €5 non-refundable fee for the plastic card. This pass is also only available for purchase at the ticket window and not at the machine.
There are different passes like a day pass that offer unlimited rides in different zones, as well as a Paris Visite Pass for different number of days and zones that include discounts for Paris attractions. As mentioned above, the type of Metro ticket you purchase will be determined by your needs. This website gives a detailed information on the different types of tickets and other Metro information. Also, the official RATP website is a great resource as it has a lot of information, the most up to date timetables, fares, and a route planner.
How to ride the metro:
Riding the metro was not difficult at all, and there are signs everywhere that lead you to your designated platform. Enter the gate/turnstile by inserting your ticket and make sure to retrieve the ticket and hold onto it as some places require you to feed it through the turnstile to exit the station or officials may request to see your ticket to make sure that it is legitimate (this only happened once to us at the exit near the Eiffel Tower). Once you are inside the gates, look for signs that list your destination as one line has two different directions the train operates in, and follow the arrows/signs that lead you to your platform. Once on the platform, there are usually signs on the ceiling that show the remaining minutes left until the arrival of your train.
We rode on various types of trains, from very old, antique ones, to the less antique ones, but even the new trains seemed a bit antiquated to us. There were no huge problems or issues with them aside from the lack of air conditioning (which turned out to be torturous on some of the rides, especially during rush hour), and dated/worn-out chairs. Another thing we noticed was that most car doors had to be opened either by pressing a button or pushing up a lever. Some of the things I appreciated on the metro rides were the voice over announcement of approaching stations and the unique designs and décor of each station.
Once you get off the train at your stop, look for exit signs, “Sortie,” with the corresponding exit number or street name that will lead you to your destination. One of the main stations had 10 exits, and each takes you to a different place around the station. Fortunately, our handy Google Map showed us which exit we would have to use each time we planned our route. Overall, riding the metro was convenient and reliable, as we experienced malfunctioning of the train only once during our trip.
Tip: If you know that rain is in the forecast and you plan on riding the metro during the rain, make sure you have purchased your ticket or charged your contactless card in advance, as the ticket line could be brutally long in the rain.
Tip 2: Always plan out your route to see if it is worth taking the metro, as there were times when walking to the destination was quicker due to lack of direct lines to the destination.
Tip 3: There are discounts for travelers in different categories for various types of tickets (i.e. students under age 16 traveling in a group of 10 or more and accompanied by an adult, children from age 4 to 9, blind civilians with a disability card, disabled veterans, etc.), so be sure to check the RATP website for more information. Also, children 3 and under get to ride for free according to various websites.