Using the Paris Metro as a local

Paris is huge and overwhelming. Someone said it right that most of the people that land here either fall in love with Paris or hate the city. Unfortunately, to start with, I also had the later emotions as we entered Paris. As soon as we came out of the train station in Paris and hailed towards our hotel we were greeted by endless traffic signals, rough cabs that jumped the lanes every now and then, the accelerating cab fare meters. And a never ending drive to our hotel. These are things that we experience in our daily life, living in one of the most populated metros in India. While commuting to work daily or while going out on weekends. And that is definitely an exhausting and stressing experience.

Louvre Museum Paris in a day

So, the experience was not at all something we expected to have on a vacation as well. We knew instantly we had to find a solution to this if we were going to make the most of our rest couple of days in the city of Paris. And also to have a good time here. An important factor that would play a role in our experience was definitely the commute time involved. Since we had limited time at hand in Paris. And thus we had got to make the most of this. And the Paris Metro came as a solution to all this. It definitely took us some time to tame the Paris Metro properly. But, once we did, travel became a breeze.

Cost of traveling in Paris Metro

At the time of this writing, it cost 1.9 euros for one trip on the Paris Metro. That means, to travel from anywhere to anywhere else , however many trains one changes in between. Also there are full day passes available for around 11 euros per head. One can use this pass as many times as one desires during a day. Definitely a very convenient and economical way of evading the traffic and reaching your destination.

How to use the Paris Metro

Gather the information required to board the Paris Metro

Every Paris Metro station has an information center right opposite or besides the ticket machine. To start with, you can do what we did. Head to the information center and ask for the information you desire. Tell them which destination you are headed to. Most likely, the person at the information center will give you a map of the Paris Metro network. They will also mark your destination on the map. And the current Paris Metro station as well, where you are standing. If you ask, they will also mark the intermittent stations, if any, where you might need to change your line. And at the end, they will explain it all to you. You now have the information you need to travel through Paris Metro to your destination. Actually, you can keep this map for future reference as well.

Paris Metro

Get your ticket to get onboard the Paris Metro

Once you have gathered the information required for your travel, head to the nearest ticket vending machine. It will be mostly besides or opposite the information center. Here, you have got a very friendly and intuitive touch screen. Navigate through it, making selections and enter the information required to purchase your ticket. The best part is that the information in the machine is available in multiple languages. You will surely know one of them. Once you reach the step when payment is to be done, you can enter multiple denominations of coins and notes in the machine to make the payment. There after , collect your ticket from the machine and head inside the Paris Metro to onboard your train.

Head to your specific platform inside the Paris Metro station

The person on the information center might have marked your next station where you either need to get down for changing lines. Or, which might be your destination. He might have also told you which line to take. Although, this is very intuitive. Also, the line name and number is clearly marked inside the Paris Metro station for you to decipher which direction to head into. Along with the line, the destination name is also mentioned on the boards. So, head towards the Paris Metro station platform which is a combination of the right line and your desired destination. And you will soon arrive at the right platform. Wait for your metro to arrive.

Mostly the metros run at a gap of 5-10 minutes. So, it’s highly unlikely you will ever have to wait for more than 10 minutes for the next metro. Once the train comes, on – board it. Inside the train also, the route is drawn and mostly the next station where the metro is headed will be blinking. So, you know the route, even if you don’t understand the announcement that is made for the next station.

Paris Metro

Changing lines between Paris Metro stations

Most likely, on long journeys between destinations, you will have to change your line at least once. This means, you have to get down on the intermediate Paris Metro stations and then board the next metro from a different platform. Every time you get down at an intermediate station, follow the arrows and directions to the next line and destination. And on board the next metro that arrives. Repeat the pattern until you are at your desired destination.

Our own experience with the Paris Metro

We have got to admit, we had a love-hate relationship with the Paris Metro. You might have read about our adventure on the first evening in Paris. And a good part of it was also attributed to our Paris Metro ride. But, then, the next day, we successfully traveled from one destination to another using the metro. However, we did have a moment of confusion end of the day at one of the stations. And when we felt like giving up on where our platform was, one guy offered his help. And he took us to a nearby Metro, just 5 minutes walk from the one we were standing in. We then found our line there. I am not sure if we had misinterpreted the map in this case or the two stations were internally connected somehow and we couldn’t figure that out.

But overall, we did save a lot on our budget traveling through the Paris Metro. So, we would definitely recommend it to someone going to Paris. And who wants to explore around on a budget, not spending too much on commute.  I am sure Paris has a robus bus system as well. But we didn’t explore that this time around, so, can’t do a comparison.

Paris Metro
A glimpse of the Paris Metro Map

General tips on commuting via the Paris Metro

  1. Keep a map of the Paris Metro. You can collect it from information center. It will help you decide on the line to take next.
  2. Keep some buffer time when traveling via Paris Metro. In case you get confused like we did at a few occasions, you will have ample time to rectify your confusion and get on the right line.
  3. The Metro runs only till around 1:00am. So, if you are up after that and planning to commute, you have to look for alternate ways.
  4. You can always reach out the information center at the metro station for more details or any query they might have. But don’t expect them to always understand you if you don’t speak French. Happened with us a couple of times. And it was a little more difficult to make them understand what we were trying to express. Somehow, we accomplished it at the end with the help of sign language and all 🙂
  5. Avoid peak traffic hours like office commute hours as the Paris Metro is very crowded.
  6. Beware of pickpockets (even the Paris Metro announces it). And don’t keep any of your valuables in pockets. Best is to use a money belt. Keep the passport and visa as well in the money belt. That’s the best way to secure your valuables and cash during the travel.
  7. There is an app also for Paris Metro. You can download and use it, you need data however to be able to make effective use of it. We did with a paper map most of the time. (It was actually a little fun when all of us would hover over the map and flex our brains about which line to take next)
  8. At times there might be more than one way possible for you to reach the same destination from a source. You will need to figure out the most optimal way of reaching based on your priority. The priority being the shortest route, or, a route which is longer but takes minimum number of hops (changing of metros) to reach the destination.

How to use the Paris Metro for an economical and time effective travel | how to save time with Paris Metro | How to use the Paris Metro like a pro | Paris Metro | Europe | France


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55 Responses

  1. Gina Bear

    This is a great post on how to use the Paris Metro. I saw that you had a map but I wonder if there are any apps with the map? In Seoul, We have an app that tells us how to get to each station, what car to get it, and which line to transfer on. Do you know if there’s one like that for Paris?

    • Neha

      Yes Gina there’s an app for the Paris Metro exclusively. And it has the map.

  2. Ami Bhat

    Metros are the most cost-effective way to travel across cities. We did manage to use the Paris Metro and given its user-friendliness, it was a breeze. They have lovely connectivity to their trams as well for there was this one point where we had to use that too. Glad you put out this guide for people who are headed there for the first time. Will make it super useful for them.

    • Neha

      Thank you Ami. Paris metro did make us a fan of public transport and we are going to stick by the metros and buses wherever we travel next

  3. Backpackways

    I have been to Paris over a couple of times and have always preferred travelling by metro. I love the fact that they have services right from CDG/ORY airports to the centre of the city. Your tips would surely be helpful for travellers.

    • Neha

      Thank you. As a user of the Paris Metro I am sure you could relate to my descriptions

  4. bruceschinkel19

    utilizing local transit systems can be an amazing way to explore any city, and being to use it like a local is huge for avoiding sticking out like a tourist! Great post so we can all feel a little less stressed when we visit Paris

  5. Marge Gavan

    If there is one thing that I’ve learned traveling abroad is that it’s best to learn their train system for a cheaper and faster transport. So I am right there with you on this. When I get to France, I will definitely use the Paris metro local. The map looks similar with Taiwan and Singapore lines so most probably they work the same way. I wish my country has an efficient train system like this. One of my dreams really.

    • Neha

      Most of the metro networks work the same way Marge. So, hopefully, you will have a smooth sail through the Paris Metro since you already have experienced some similar ones …

  6. Mango Lady Diaries (@mangoladydiarie)

    I always look out for a metro in a metropolitan city. In India, it has eased out travelling a lot. Paris is such a dream destination and I am really happy you covered this topic. I didn’t get many resources and this post is so helpful. Highly recommend this to my friends heading to Paris soon. Thanks 🙂

    • Neha

      Thank you. I am really delighted to know that you got a unique resource here which is going to help you in some way. And thank you in advance for the recommendation

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