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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52 Responses

  1. […] Complete guide to making use of the Paris Metro like locals […]

  2. 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?

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

  3. 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.

    • 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

  4. 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.

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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

    • 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 …

  7. 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 🙂

    • 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

  8. PackYourBaguios

    Public transportation is definitely the way to go when wanting to save your money for other things, like delicious French food. Great tips for navigating and staying safe!

  9. That’s a great picture of a train! I remember my first time in metro in Paris. I had no idea how to purchase a ticket but with my poor French I managed somehow. Such an adventure. I wish I had read this post then.

    • Thanks Paula. Not sure if the post existed then 🙂 but yes, we ourselves couldn’t get enough detailed resource on the process so we thought to pen it down for other’s benefit

  10. This is such a helpful post for first time visitors! I love using the metro in Paris but it’s easy to forget these crucial tips for making it successful and smooth. So helpful!

    • Thank you Meghan. I guess you were able to relate since you are a frequent traveler on the Paris Metro

  11. I remember the first time I was there in the Paris Metro and it was so confusing. I wish I had this guide because it explains so well everything in full detail. The ticket purchasing seems easy and the fact that the stations blink along the line drawn inside the train is super helpful if you don’t speak the language. Good to know that you can ask for help at the stations!

    • Thank you Taiss. Really glad going through the comments as it’s making me feel this post is going to be super useful for many

  12. It seems like using the Paris Metro is the way to go. We’ve never been to Paris but we’ve heard nothing but good things about the metro. It seems like the best way to get around. Great tips, it’s good to have a general idea on how it works before going to a big city and using the transit.

    • Thank you! Definitely metro became our best way of commute while in Paris and we found it very efficient

  13. I can relate to this post because I’ve also gotten similar experience with the metro in Paris. Really massive and you can easily get mixed up from one station to another.

  14. Thx for the great post, Neha. I agree with you. Battling traffic in a vacation destination is no fun at all! That’s where the Metro really comes in handy, and Paris is no exception.

  15. I’ve found in all the major countries I’ve been to, the metro systems are so easy and convenient to use once you get over the initial shock of it. Being English, obviously we have the London tube, the first time I went on it, I was so confused but now it’s so easy, the most confusing one I was in Mexico City, but also that became quite simple to navigate. My brother goes to Paris a lot and he finds the Paris metro the best place to get around

    • Completely agree Amit. Definitely it takes a little while to get used to it, but once you know how to navigate it, it seems like a very efficient way to get around. And that is exactly why we put up this post. To help others save time getting around the Paris Metro by introducing it to everyone. 🙂

  16. Abhinav Singh

    I am a public transport person and love checking out the options in a new country. It always makes sense to travel in Metro as it saves time and money and helps environment as well. Those are some really useful tips you have shared here.

    • Thanks Abhinav, now that we have got a hang of it, we would recommend public transport like metros to everyone

  17. Mario / the-backpacker.net

    I’m always happy when I’m in a city with a metro. Sure, the “trolé” in Ecuador are cheap and the “straßenbahn” in Germany gets you to your destination, but you never get caught in a traffic jam while in a metro train.

    • Right..and no worries of the bitter cold or the pouring rain while you travel inside the metro and reach right inside the campus of your destination like the Louvre Museum 🙂

  18. Would definitely agree that the travel time will matter when visiting a city/ a new place most especially when it’s on a limited time. Being on a bustling city can be overwhelming and I like the idea of navigating through it by using the Paris Metro. Efficient transportation systems like this are definitely time and cost saver. Unless of course if you get lost. LOL. Great tips on using it too, especially on the safety aspect. 🙂

  19. Paris metro sounds fun ! Like in any new city, I see you had teething troubles getting a hang of it but I agree, it can be a very efficient and budget friendly way to commute. Thanks for the detailed post on this. Definitely will be handy when I land in the city of the Eiffel tower 🙂

    • Thanks Swati. It takes some initial effort to get used to it, and that would be the case with any public transport system in a new place. But after that, its so efficient to use

  20. I am glad to read this post on Paris Metro. I think Metro trains have emerged as a viable and environmental friendly way of roaming around in a city. Delhi Metro is a boon to a city like Delhi and by the looks of your post, Paris Metro is a boon to French citizens and travelers alike! A valuable suggestion in your post is that of carrying a metro map to save time! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Ambuj. I have not been on the Delhi metro but while we were navigating the metro in Paris, some of my friends narrated wonderful experiences that they had with the Delhi Metro. It sounded like a very efficient commute system in Delhi

  21. That’s great that it’s only 1.9 euros to go anywhere in the city! It’s too bad that metro ends at 1:00 am though because I’m sure people spend a lot of nights out drinking wine and cheese till the wee hours and need to find a way back home!

    • 🙂 You can definitely make the most of the Paris Metro till 1:00am and thereafter find another means of transport 🙂

  22. The Paris Metro doesn’t seem so daunting now I’ve read this guide. Although, my favourite metro is the Hong Kong, clean, always on time and very clear instructions in multiple languages. The most confusing is Tokyo, they have two different metro systems and neither are in English. (is it sad that I have a list of favourite underground train systems?)

    • Wow..I guess that is great Chris. You have experience with so many different metro systems. We would ask you for suggestions when we head to Hong Kong and Tokyo 🙂

  23. I should have to take note of this, to save time and lesser stress….
    And thanks for in-depth guide for using the Metro in Paris… For somebody who is poor in direction, I hope I won’t make a mistake and ride the wrong train when changing lines 🙂

    • Thanks Louiela. I guess it won’t happen that you on board the wrong train because the lines are very clearly mentioned there

  24. I love the metro in Paris! I was intimidated at first looking at the map when i traveled solo there. Turned out to be very simple to follow and i love that there are stops to actual tourist spots.

    • You are right, it just takes a little while to get used to. but once you are comfortable with the Paris Metro , there’s nothing like it to travel across Paris. And they seem to have created a metro station almost near every tourist spots. How thoughtful?

  25. I have to say it is one of my favourite city metros, love how easy it is to navigate. But yes, it can crowded

  26. The Paris metro is really very convenient and a fast method to get around Paris. When we were in Paris we used the metro to get around a lot. In fact we love using the public transport wherever we go as much as possible as this helps us get closer to the locals and have an immersive experience of the place.

    • So true! Nothing can beat the public transport, particularly if you want to get a feel of the local culture and get closer to the locals.

  27. Alexander Popkov

    Heh, fater metro in Moscow, Paris doesn’t seem to be so complicated. I love metro and trains. Going to write a post in my blog about those as well.

    • Haven’t been on to the Moscow one. Will definitely await your writeup about it

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