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The Paris Métro is the most convenient method of transport in the city and has 16 lines totalling 133 miles in length. The lines are numbered 1 to 14 with 2 minor lines and each line has its own identifying colour. Trains run from 5.30am until 1.15am (2.15am on Fridays and Saturdays). If you're visiting Paris, the Metro gives you and relatively cheap and fast way to explore the city. However, it can also be real hassle if you're not adequately prepared! Here are my top 5 tips to master the Metro and make the most of your time in the city of lights:
1. Avoid rush hour. If at all possible, avoid travelling between 8am and 9.30am and between 5pm and 6.30pm. Line 4 in particular gets heavily congested. The same goes when planning your arrival time in the city, as you won't want to be negotiating crowded metro carriages with all of your luggage. The sight of a large American trying to squeeze a giant suitcase through a crowd of commuters makes me cringe every time...
2. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, don't always get off at the obvious stop for your destination, as some larger stations can take ages to get out of! Consider instead the smaller station nearby as it's a guaranteed timesaver, especially during busy times of day- here are some examples:
For Les Halles shopping centre: get off at Etienne Marcel instead of Les Halles
For the Arc de Triomphe: get off at George V instead of Charles de Gaulle Etoile
For the Eiffel Tower: get off at Dupleix instead of Bir-Hakeim
For Sacré Coeur: get off at Abesses instead of Anvers (saves you a long walk up the hill!)
Most importantly, where possible avoid getting off or changing at Chatelet-Les Halles station. Often it'll be a ten-minute walk through a warren of tunnels and escalators to change lines, when in a smaller station you could have just crossed platforms.
3. If you're on a whistle-stop trip, consider the Paris Visite travelcard, which gives you unlimited travel in central Paris for 1,2,3 or 5 consecutive days. A 5 day ticket costs Euro31.15 which works out just over Euro6 a day (about the same as a single journey on the London Underground!). If you're only going to be travelling intermittently, buy 'carnets' of 10 single tickets (Euro12.50) as it works out far cheaper.
4. As Metro stations in Paris can be as little as 50 metres apart, don't always assume it's the quickest option. As a general rule if you're travelling less that three stops, you're probably better off walking.
5. Use the RER (Réseau Express Régional) train for longer trips within Paris, as it's faster and Metro tickets are still valid. The RER is a faster system that serves the suburbs and has five lines signified by the letters A to E. For example use RER B to travel quickly from Gare du Nord to Notre Dame or RER D to travel from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon. Be careful on the RER though as it can be a mugger's paradise (enclosed carriages and larger distances between stations). If you're a lone traveller, try and stay in carriages where there are plenty of people.
Overall the Paris Metro struggles to handle the sheer volume of people that pass through it particularly during rush hour. However, if you're a tourist then the network will take you anywhere you'd ever need to go for a very low price. If you get lost in Paris then it's only a matter of time before you'll always stumble across a Metro station to help you get your bearings. Visitors can find the network's complexity quite daunting but with a little 'insider knowledge' the Metro can be a very fast and easy way to get around.
SAVE A FORTUNE BY RIDING THE PARIS METRO!!!!
I have visited Paris on three occasions and plan to visit one of my favourite cities on earth in January next year. Paris is a very busy city and to get around in such busy traffic can be very frustrating so fortunately Paris offers an excellent alternative to taxis/cars or buses with the very good Metro service.
****WHERE DOES THE METRO TAKE YOU?*****
The metro will basically take you within 200 yards of wherever you want to go in Paris as there 300 hundred Metro stops in Paris and are situated very close together. You can visit all the major tourist attractions in Paris easily by using the metro...we have used it everytime we visit and always visit the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Trioumphe and Louve. There are 16 different lines that take you everywhere in Paris.
****IS IT EXPENSIVE?*****
One ticket that last 1 hour 30 minutes cost 1 euro 60 cents and is well worth the money compared to taxi fares. You can also buy a block of ten tickets which will save you some money. I find you can get around all day and see all the main tourist attraction for around £10...cheap travel.
******IS IT SAFE AND CLEAN?*****
I have never had any problems using the metro but like anywhere in the world there has to be a due diligence especially when you are abroad. Beware of pickpockets etc. My rule of thumb is that it is better to be out and about during the day as it is safer during the day than at night. The metro is not the cleanest place in the world but with the amount of traffic that goes through the metro they do keep on top of it but some metros can seem to be old and tired looking and could be doing with a good clean but that is nip picking on my part.
In my opinion if you are going to visit Paris then you must be wse and use the metro as it will save you alot of money and it is very reliable andf constant service with a train every couple of minutes or less on the main lines.
I hope this review helps anyone who is thinking of using the metro in Paris.
Last time we driving around in Paris we realised the benefits of using the Paris Metro. It has a character all of its own. The trains are quite a novelty too as some of them are double decker! It helps if you can speak a little French to ask for directions and way to nearest the toilets etc.
We stayed at Bussy St George in Marne La Valee. This is a good place to stay if you are visiting Eurodisney but not actually staying at the parc. You can then buy one zoned ticket to use the RER and the Paris Metro and the buses for a few euros a day.
The Paris Metro will take you to all the tourist destinations as well as some that are off the beaten track. You can get off the Metro right under the Arc de Triomphe, outside Gallerie Lafayette which makes Harrods look like a corner shop or a few yards from the Tour Eiffel.
Wander round the market and the Latin quarter where the students and artists used to live. Where ever you wander in the city you won't be far from the Metro. So, if you get lost find the nearest Metro station and take it back to where you want to be.
Paris is a magical city, with inspiring imperial and modern buildings and a fabulous central river heart. However for those with a limited attention span; keen to avoid long walks or highbrow culture there still is a reasonable way to introduce the magic and so pave the way for a future return using the integrated transport options which abound in this city.
I would recommend that you don't even think about driving or parking in Paris. Whilst there are obvious car parks signposted, the traffic is a nightmare and the manners non-existent. It makes central London feel like a picnic. With the price of truly integrated public transport so cheap, the car really is an unnecessary complication; except for access to a link point to get into the city. This is where we really scored lucky. Since we were staying just a few miles SE of Paris we had easy access to the RER (Regional Express Railway) station at Marne La Valley (Chessy) which also serves Disneyland Paris. So, yes there is a massive well organised, safe and supervised car park all for just 8 Euro per day. A bargain if you care about your vehicle, as many of the other station car parks seem to attract drivers who fling their cars and doors about with complete disregard for others. It almost seems car ownership is scored by how many dings you have or can dispense to others!
A Paris Day Ticket
Less than 13 Euros will buy you a day ticket for access across all Paris zones, unlimited travel on the RER, metro bus and tram networks including the funicular at Montmatre. This latter is probably a must if you intend to visit Sacre Coeur and legs or energy levels are flagging. Purchase at the station ticket office is very simple even for those with very limited or non French speakers; we saw people using fingers communicating ONE DAY, "Paris adult inclusif" obtain their tickets without any hassle. Similar to the London Underground posting the ticket into the automated barrier opens the gates which access escalators to the trains below. The great huff of compressed air as the gates pull open seems to delight many younger travellers and they can't seem to wait for the next gates. At a terminal station like Marne La Valee (Chessy) you will usually see the train waiting for you on the platform These modern trains are well used and not particularly clean, again much like our own underground. However there is one nifty feature that is sure to fascinate younger travellers, as the train travels along the station name is not only spoken aloud, but the station name is lit up on the route map, so they can try to relate the spoken words to the written format. Certain lines run 2 level trains with steps up to more seating, a bit like a double decker bus, and again this seems to be a novelty feature which keeps interest alive. I would strongly recommend obtaining the free map which is available from the ticket office as this will make it much easier to plan your route, rather than reacting on the hoof amongst the hubbub so to speak. At peak times these trains become very crowded, and there is little sign of any consideration for others. However it is certainly no worse than our own transport systems, and if anything more frequent so the crowding quickly thins out. Signposting is really easy to follow, with clear colour coding of the lines; numbers for the metro and letters for the RER lines, together with excellent platform displays of the next train coming and the stops which it will make. And yes, as you have probably guessed even with all this, it did not prevent us getting on a train going in the wrong direction; but the mistake was quickly spotted, we simply got off at the next station, crossed over and got the train going the correct way.
Our Day in Detail
The Essential First Coffee Stop
We boarded our first train at approx 10.00 arriving at Chateaulin des Halles at approx 1030. Just right for a coffee stop then. This area is a shopping mecca and excellent for traditional type French cafes, so we easily found one facing into the street with tables beckoning and waiters hovering outside. Dressed in the traditional black waistcoats, dark trousers and white aprons we really felt we had entered a "Cafe Rene" film set Again the ability to quickly relate this to a much loved and familiar TV series gives added interest. We chose simple hot chocolate and cafe au lait, which cost 4.5 Euros, not too bad for central Paris, but it was before 12.00; be warned often prices for hot drinks will go up between 30 and 50 cents a cup after 12.00 The drinks were lovely, piping hot and tasty, and served with a complimentary chocolate dusted almond. Other customers were eating either a continental style breakfast of croissants, bread and preserves with drinks included for 7 Euros, or just simply having drinks and soaking up the atmosphere. The toilets were typically old and Gallic; a spiral staircase downstairs to a split half door just like the door to the Saloon in a Western. With little privacy between the Gents and the Ladies the hand wash area was just squeezed in and not particularly clean or appealing. Still a welcome relief before going back to the station and our next visit. Whilst ambling back to the station we spotted a bargain bookshop selling new and second-hand multi-lingual books, and also racks of postcards at 12 for 2 Euros, which was a real bargain. This area seems really cosmopolitan and definitely cheaper than many of the more obvious tourist traps.
We have been to Paris before, so had already been to the Eiffel Tower, endured the queues and crammed into the lift to get to the top, but this time a more civilised aerial view was planned. We alighted from the metro in the business district at Montparnasse Bienvenue and walked the short distance to the entrance of the tower building. For a 10 Euros adult entry a high speed lift whips you up 56 floors at amazing speed (196 metres in 38 seconds.......so much better than walking); apparently its Europe's fastest elevator! When you alight there is a panoramic observation floor, double glazed and carpeted with a fantastic view of the city below. A handy bar, souvenir shop and audio visual show entice you to linger, but the steps beckon you to clamber up the final 15m to the 59th floor which is open air and positively breathtaking. So much so that we ate our sandwiches on the roof, which I swear I could detect was moving; whilst soaking up the amazing view below. Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides (with Napoleon's tomb), Trocadero and of course the Eiffel Tower can clearly be seen as you wander around the rooftop. Fortified now, and the sun shining on the river below encouraged us back down to the trains, and so emerging at Pont d'Alma where Bateaux Parisiens have their shore side pontoons and ticket office.
A Short River Tour
Eleven Euros will buy you a seat on the hour long commentated river tour. This really is excellent values for money. As you glide along the multi-lingual handsets deliver a commentary, identifying the buildings, giving snippets of interest, history and music which you can relate to what you are cruising past. The magnificence of the Alexandre Bridge, Louvre, Museum d'Orsay and Notre Dame unfold before you. The boats themselves are glass covered, so in more inclement weather you can still shelter from the elements whilst still enjoying the gentle and interesting tour. We were lucky it was a balmy spring afternoon, so we were able to sit outside enjoying the sunshine, together with the sounds and smells of this busy city. Something seen from the boat is almost bound to spark interest, then so provide the next quick destination in the unlikely event that you are running low on ideas. Spotting the twin towers of Notre Dame provoked a discussion about the hunchback and Quasimodo, so on our next trip this will certainly be on the itinerary. All too soon the trip was over and we happily wandered back to the nearest station, opting to take the metro back to large interchange from where we could board our RER train back to the car park, arriving there at approx 1830.
Should you be staying actually in Paris there is a Paris Pass which would be worth checking out. At 89 Euros for 2 days this allows unlimited travel on the transport systems and free access to many of the major attractions including Tour Montparnasse. Unfortunately the river tours are not included though.
We could have easily spent much longer in the city there is so much to see and do; but a shorter day leaves you less exhausted; since believe me, even this small amount of travelling around is surprisingly tiring...... This way everyone is keen to go back another time!
Thanks for reading
Posted on Dooyoo and Ciao under the same author