Paris is a huge city but getting from one point to another is a breeze when you know your way around the public transport system!
I will explain all the options in Paris’ public transport system to you!
The best way I think to visit and discover a city generally would be by foot. Because Paris is such a large city, I think avoiding using public transport might not be the best option for this metropolis. When it comes to public transport, Paris has plenty of choice to travel comfortably: by subway, RER, bus, tram, taxi, taxi-bike or even by “Boat Bus” on the Seine river
Whether you go to Paris for 1 day, 1 weekend, 1 week or more, there are various packages and discounts available for transport tickets. Children below the age of 4 can make use of all means of transport for free, and children from 4 to 11 get 50% discount on all tickets!
Tickets have to be inserted in the gates to the subway and RER, but on the bus showing your ticket to the driver suffices.
The public transport system in Paris is divided into 6 zones, therefore it is handy to plan your travel before you go, to be sure to purchase the best prices ticket or card. Points you should take into consideration:
- The zone you are leaving from
- The zones you will be crossing
- The zone you will arrive in
Zone 1 and 2 correspond to the city center of Paris and nearby suburbs, so generally during a trip in Paris you will use only these 2 zones.
Paris Visite is a personal ticket valid for 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days, and can be chosen for travel in zones 1 to 6.
To validate the ticket, check that the below details are on it:
- Your full name
- A card number
- The days of card use
The Paris Visite card will allow you to make use all public transportation, including the Montmartre funicular.
In addition, this card, provides for discounts on many attractions such as:
- Grevin Museum: 30% off admission fee
- Dali: Special price of €6 instead of €10
(Divide the price by two for children between 4 and 12 years old)
The Mobilis card is an ideal solution for a weekend in Paris. This card allows for an unlimited number of trips using the subway, RER, bus or train.
A 1 day ticket is valid from 5.30 to the next day at 5.30 with options for travel in zones 1 & 2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5 or 1-6.
The card, like Paris Visite, is personal and should have a date of use on it.
Costs: form €6.10 for 2 zones travel.
Tickets can be purchased on the subway and RER stations, but also in some tobacco shops.
The Navigo Découverte card is the perfect solution for a stay of one week or one month in Paris. It costs €5 and must include your photo. You can charge your card with travel credit for 1 week (Monday-Sunday) or 1 month (from the 1st to last day of the month) and this grants for unlimited travel within the zones purchased.
You can buy this card on the stations in a ticket booth or from a machine.
This option is only for young travelers, for people under 26 years old. It is valid on a Saturday or a Sunday (holidays included), and it allows for unlimited travel on chosen zones 1-3, 1-5, 1-6 or 3-6 by subway, RER, bus and SNCF Ile-de France.
The Jeunes Week-End ticket is valid from Saturday 5h30am to Sunday 2h30am, or from Sunday to Monday within those times.
This ticket is the most regular used ticket for public transport in Paris. It is valid for 1,5 hour. There are 2 different types: 1 type is for use on the subway or RER (not valid on the RER outside of Paris), the other is for in the bus and tram.
Where can you find these cards?
You can find these different cards in many places across the capital; in railway stations and on the airports of Paris (Charles de Gaulle / Orly), in the subway stations, the RER, commercial agencies, the offices of the bus terminal, and tourist offices (Office de Tourisme de Paris).
The staff of the French public transport is known as sometimes unfriendly, and I want to warn you for something here. Sometimes the staff of RATP try to talk you into using a Paris Visite card when you ask for a Navigo Decouverte, while the first one is more expensive! As a French person myself, I tell you: Don’t let this happen to you! The Navigo card is as valid as the Paris Visite card, so don’t let them take you for a foolish tourist!
The different Public Transports:
The subway or “Metro” in French, is the main form of transport used by Parisians, because it quickly and easily gets you everywhere in Paris. Subway lines are numbered from 1 to 15. They run from about 05h30, until about 00h30. Free subway maps are available at each station.
How to check your ticket?
Insert your ticket into a turnstile slot and go through the turnstile. Don’t forget to take back the stamped ticket.
The RER trains are ideal for travelling quickly across the region. These regional commuter trains extend the reach of public transport into the Paris suburbs. The five RER train lines are identified by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. These trains run from about 05h30 to about 00h30.
RER trains have their own tickets, but subway tickets may also be used on RER trains. Outside the Paris area special RER fares apply, including travel to or from the airports, Versailles, and Disneyland Paris.
How to check your ticket?
Like the subway tickets, you must to insert your ticket into a turnstile slot.
Paris bus routes are numbered, and begin operation at 06h30 until 20h30 and 21h30. A few lines which are indicated by signs at the bus stop run until past midnight
There are also night busses called “Noctilien”, which operate hourly between Chatelet and the main gates of Paris from 01h00 to 05h00. Ticket prices vary, and can only be purchased on the busses. Maps of the bus routes can be found in bus shelters and inside the busses.
The special Montmartre bus, line number 64, circulates in the Montmartre district. If you are in this district, you can also use the Montmartre funicular railway that travels up and down the hill to “La Basilique du Sacré Coeur”.
How to check your ticket?
You pay in cash at the driver. Beware that your ticket is only valid for one journey, so if you would like to take another bus or change lines, unfortunately you must buy another ticket.
In addition to the subway, RER-train and busses, Paris has 3 tram lines:
- Line T1 connects Saint-Denis to Noisy-le-Sec
- Line T2 (Trans Val-de-Seine) connects La Défense with Porte de Versailles (south of Paris)
- T3 is the first modern tramway in Paris.
It connects the western part of the 15th arrondissement with the arrondissement 13th.
There are over 17.000 taxis in Paris. Paris’ taxi drivers are not known as the friendliest in the world (if you are lucky you find a nice taxi driver, friendly and who speaks English)!
Although in most large cities taxis are rather expensive, they can sometimes be very useful, in particular when you happen to be lost
On weekends, late at night or on rainy days, you probably won’t be the only one waiting at a taxi stand. Be patient or walk up the file and try to join a person for a shared ride, it often works!
In Paris you can use electric taxi bikes. An electric taxi bike can transport 2 passengers at a time
If you chose to use an electric taxi bike, hop in in the back and when you want to hop off: just gently tap on the driver’s shoulder. Alternatively, you can call a taxi bike via the Urban Cab society. This needs to be done 24 hours in advance.
Taxi bikes are managed by several companies, so the rate varies depending on the company.
Generally it will cost between €1.50 and €2 per person per km.
You can also go for a a tourist ride, which costs approximately €25 for 30 minutes or €35 for a 1 hour tour (max. 2 people and 1 child under the age of 6).
Designed especially for tourists, the Batobus passes are for as many trips as you like during a specific period of time. No need to wait to buy a ticket!
Batobus takes you into the heart of Paris, to all quarters of the capital.
With 8 stops (Eiffel Tower, St-Germain-des-Prés, Jardin des Plantes, Louvre, Champs-Elysées, Hotel de Ville, Notre-Dame de Paris, Musée d’Orsay), Batobus shows you a different view of Paris and is an original way of getting about in the “City of Light”.
A 1 day pass costs €14 (€7 for children under 16)
Where to buy a ticket?
There is Batobus ticket office at each stop
Today’s transport networks in major cities worldwide are in saturation, and the inland waterway transport sector is developing and providing a very nice alternative to the subway or bus whre possible. There are plenty of examples: the “Water Taxi” in New York and Amsterdam, the “Vaporetto” in Venice or “Star Ferry” in Hong Kong.
During a short weekend in Paris, the easiest way to see the most attractions of the City of Light is to go on a tourist tour. Tourist tours come in various shapes and sizes, I picked out a few of the most original ones for you:
- Bateau-Mouche (Boat) Tour
The “Bateau Mouche” is one of the most famous tourist tours of Paris, through which you can discover or rediscover the magic of the Seine River.
You can scroll through the rhythm of the Seine River, and enjoy seeing the most beautiful monuments of Paris.
Reduced price: €5 (children 4 to 12 years)
Free: children under the age of 4
You can also choose a Dinner Cruise: Go for a romantic one or one with friends, to see Paris like you’ve never seen it before. Boarding from 19:45 – Departure 20:30 – Duration: 2:15.
Between 95€ and 133€ per person
- Bus Tour
The environment-friendly Foxity bus is soundproof and warm; it has a see-through sliding roof, to shelter you on days with bad weather.
During 1.5 hour (no stops), you will see more than 50 monuments of the French capital.
Adults: €14 (€12 euros for the lower level)
Free for children under 12 years.
People up to 25 years and above 65 years: €12
- 2CV Tour
The “4 roues sous un parapluie” (4 wheels under an umbrella!), offer an original way to visit Paris in the famous old car: The 2CV – with driver. With its convertible top, the 2CV offers a panoramic view, a retro way of discovering the unique charms of Paris. They offer many original ancillary services such as tasting wines and cheeses in the car or unusual visits to famous monuments.
A regular 30 minute tour:
- 1 car for 3 persons costs €19/pers
- 1 car for 2 persons costs €29
- 1 car for 1 person costs €58
- Hot Air Balloon Tour
In Disneyland Paris you will be able to see the region of Ile de France in a different way, watching it from the sky, in the world’s largest hot air balloon. This attraction is a thrill for visitors, a journey of about 6 minutes in the sky over Disneyland Resort Paris. From 100m above the ground, you will have a magnificent 360° view, up to 20km far.
Up to 30 people can participate in each flight, depending on weather conditions. The balloon takes off from the middle of the Lake Disney village.
Child €6 (3-11 years)
Children under 3 years: free