When in any big city, it’s important to know how to get around. Paris is no exception! However, with a vast array of transportation options, finding your way around the City of Light can easily become quite daunting. We recognize just how difficult this process can be and have created this guide to public transportation in Paris. Enjoy!
The RATP is the source of information for all public transportation in Paris. Check out their interactive map where you can view all the Paris transportation maps and routes (metro, tramway, RER, bus, night bus) and find the best routes to and from any two points. You can search routes in real time by entering your starting point and final destination on their Plan Your Journey page. You can also download two of the RATP’s mobile apps: Next Stop Paris and RATP to help you map out your route on the go.
Credit: Gonzalo Photography
Easily the most iconic form of transportation in Paris, the metro is an interconnected underground network linking the city. At first glance, the system of 14 subway lines can seem extremely complex to those new to Paris. However, it’s actually not as bad as it seems.
The lines are all color-coded with a corresponding number. You can locate the numbers by looking at the end of the line (the part the farthest from the center of Paris). Once you have located the number, you will need to determine which direction you need to take. Once again, you can find this information by looking at the end of the line the farthest from Paris center. The direction will be the name right next to the number and is the furthest metro stop in either direction.
For example, if you locate the metro station Châtelet towards the center of the metro map and follow the dark purple line south, you will see the metro line 14 and the name “Bibliothèque François Mitterand.” So, if you want to go anywhere south of Châtelet on metro line 14, you will take the metro towards Bibliothèque François Mitterand (the final stop on this line in this direction).
Keep in mind that only the RATP-issued maps are accurately color-coded, so be sure to look for the official RATP versions.
The metro closes at 12:30 pm weekday nights and at 1:30pm on weekend nights. It starts again at 5am.
The RER system is similar to the metro, but is faster and extends past the Paris city limits. This is the transportation system you will take to get to locations outside of Paris like Versailles and Disneyland. The 5 main RER lines: RER A (red), RER B (blue), RER C (yellow), RER D (green), RER E (pink) can be found on the metro map (the four thicker lines on the map). As with the metro, the names and directions of these lines can be found at the ends of each line. However, as the trains extend past Paris, the metro map may not show all stops in between Paris and the last stop on the line.
With the RER, you really have to pay attention, as the ticket prices depend on which zones you are traveling to. These fast trains cover 5 zones as shown on the metro/RER map and tickets typically cover only 1 or 2 zones (whereas the passes cover all five zones) so if you venture outside of your covered zones, you will have to pay extra to get back into the city.
Popular destinations using the RER system include:
Disneyland Paris – RER A (direction Marne-la-Vallée)
Charles de Gaulle Airport – RER B (direction Aéroport Charles de Gaulle)
Orly Airport – RER B (direction Saint-Rémy Iès-Chevreuse)
Versailles – RER C (direction Versailles-Château)
Credit: Stephane Bortzmeyer
The tramway system is a means of transportation in Paris that tourists don’t typically think about. Unlike the metro or RER, the tramway is completely above-ground, offering spectacular views of some of Paris’s many bustling streets. Typically located along the outer border of Paris, the tramway features 9 lines that service several important entry points (known as ports) into the city.
The bus system in Paris is a bit more complex than the metro or RER. Bus stops are typically located around metro stations and each have a specific number and color. Figuring out which bus goes where can be kind of tricky, especially since the bus numbers are 2- and 3-digits long. However, maps and routes are located at each of the stops, so you will be able to determine if the bus is heading in the right direction.
You’ll get to see more of the city, as the buses travel along Paris’s many beautiful streets. A large screen displays upcoming stops so you’ll always be able to get off at the right stop. Before your stop, be sure to press one of the red buttons located next to your seat. This will signal an “arret demande” (stop requested) so that the bus driver knows to let you off at your stop.
If you find yourself in Paris after the metro has stopped running, no need to panic! The Noctilien, or night bus, is a form of transportation in Paris operating between the hours of 12:30am and 5:30am. This bus line is not the best option if you are trying to get home during these hours. We recommend taking a taxi or Uber.
While Paris is home to numerous public transportation options, taking a taxi is still a popular choice. You can locate a taxi at one of the numerous taxi stations located all over Paris (click here for a map – in French only) operated by Paris Taxi. You can download the Paris Taxi app to see which taxis are available nearest you. Through the app, you’ll be able to specify number of passengers and bags to help facilitate your experience. There are two versions available: Paris Taxi (Apple Store) or Paris Taxi (Google Play).
Worried about the language barrier with your taxi driver? You may want to check out Taxi G7. They offer English-speaking taxi drivers and accept credit card payments, which most Parisian taxis don’t accept. You can download their app Taxi G7 (Apple) or Taxi G7 (Google Play) and can check out their fares here.
The French taxi system is highly regulated, so, as long as you’re taking a legitimate taxi, this form of transportation is very safe. If you ever have any problems, be sure to ask the taxi driver for their ticket which they are required to provide you with. This document has the contact information of both the taxi company and the driver, allowing you to report any sketchy activity. On a more positive note, you can ask for a ticket if you had an enjoyable transportation experience and want to request the driver for your next ride.
*Important* When taking a taxi from the airport (CDG or Orly) make sure to get in line for the legitimate taxis OR to book your airport transfer in advance (this will help you skip the line). Otherwise the people who try and get you to take their “taxi” might charge you much more than normal. Don’t fall into this trap.
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