How to Get Around Paris

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How to Get Around Paris
Here we provide tips on transportation in Paris. The RATP (La Régie autonome des transports parisiens) provides services in Paris and the Ile-de-France region. Métro About: The Métropolitain (Métro) is an extensive transportation network that runs throughout Paris and a short distance into the adjacent suburbs. Each station is clearly marked with a prominent sign like the one pictured above. Tickets: Buy “T+” tickets at the green “Vente” (sale) machine at the station. Single trip €1.80, as of January 2015. Unlimited transfers (correspondances) between lines per one trip. Packet (carnet) of 10 tickets for €14.10 (children 4 through 9 €7.05) A ticket allows you to transfer to other Métro lines and commuter trains (RER, within Paris), but it does not permit transfers to buses. Tourist passes (Paris Visite) with access to certain zones in the city, are available for both children and adults for 1, 2, 3 and 5 days. Parisians often buy passes that permit unlimited travel during a particular period of time. These usually require photographs and applications.  Use: Download the RATP Métro map Each line is coded by number, color, and name of the stations at the ends of the line. For your trip, find out which direction you should take. For instance, if you are at the Palais Royal Musée du Louvre station on the yellow 1 line, and want to go to the Bastille station, take the train in the direction of Château de Vincennes (not in the direction of La Défense). Trains run from about 5 am to 1 am. On Saturdays and the evenings before holidays, until 2 am. Keep your ticket. An agent may ask to see it at any time, and there are fines for being without a stamped one. The Métro can be stiflingly crowded during rush hour, and it is important to know that the trains are not air-conditioned. Of course, the great convenience of the system usually outweighs these disadvantages. Download the RATP’s apps, and illustrated user guide for the Metro and RER RER About: These are the commuter trains, run by the national rail system, that connect the suburbs to central Paris and also provide a fast way to get around the city and get to and from the airports. Note that Disneyland Paris is accessed via RER A (station Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy). Tickets: You may use your Métro T+ ticket to ride both the RER and Métro within Paris. Most basic tickets cover Zones 1 and 2. When traveling farther outside the main city limits and past Zones 1 and 2 into the other 6 zones, the cost depends on the distance you are traveling. These 8 zones are spread out in concentric rings around Paris, which is Zone 1. Keep your ticket. You will need it at the end of your trip to go through the exit turnstiles, and an agent may ask to see your ticket at any time. Use: The RER has 5 lines: A (red on the Métro map), B (blue), C (yellow), D (green) and E (lavender). Each line has at least one “hub” station on the Paris Métro where you can catch the RER. It runs every day from 4:45 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Be careful navigating the RER ; it is slightly more complicated than the Métro, because of the fare differences and service directions. Bus About: Paris and its suburbs are served by an extensive bus network. Using the bus can be a picturesque way to experience Paris, compared to the all-underground Métro. Tickets: The T+ tickets that work for the Métro and RER (within Paris) also work for buses, but you cannot transfer from a Métro to a bus or vice versa. However, bus-to-bus transfers can be made with one ticket for 90 minutes after the ticket is stamped (validated) with the time on the first bus. Remember, you can get un carnet (a packet) of 10 at a tabac or Métro station for €14.10 (children 4 through 9, €7.05). You may buy un ticket à l’unité (a single ride ticket) from the bus driver; these cost €2. Use: Paris buses are marked by a two-digit number and suburban buses are marked by a three-digit number. Bus schedules are varied—some lines run only during the day, others extend well into the evening, only a few run on Sunday. Generally, they run from 5:30 a.m. to midnight. A very reduced network of night buses (Noctilien) run after hours. The same prices apply. You have to signal to the bus driver when your stop is approaching by pushing a red button, located on various seat poles and labeled with “pour ouvrir appuyer,” (press to open door) which will illuminate a red “arrêt demandé” (stop requested) sign at the front of the bus. Always pay attention to the stops as the bus approaches them, since sometimes your stop may not be announced. The bus can be equally as crowded as the Métro, especially during rush hour, but it certainly involves less wandering around long underground tunnels. Remember: It is common courtesy to say “Bonjour” (“hello,” used in the morning and afternoon) or “Bonsoir” (“hello,” used in the evening) to the bus driver. Keep your ticket. An agent may ask to see it at any time, and there are fines if you cannot produce a correctly-stamped one. Tramways About: There are eight above-ground tramway lines: T1, T2, T3, T4, etc. They run around the edges of Paris, and you can use the T3 to travel in the outer 13th, 14th and 15th arrondissements. Tickets: The same T+ tickets for the Métro/RER/bus work for the tramway. Use: Tramway stops are indicated by the letter “T” displayed on a pole. Keep your ticket to display if requested. Vélib’ Directions to use Vélib’ About: Vélib’ , also known as vélos libres (public bikes) or vélos à libre service (open-service bikes), is the city’s system of rentable bikes. Users borrow a bike from one station and return it to another. Prices are reasonable, the service is eco-friendly, and, as the website says, “la ville est plus belle à vélo” — the city is more beautiful by bike. Price: Unfortunately, you currently need a debit card that contains a microchip (puce). This is a problem for many Americans. Sometimes, American Express cards without chips do work. The service authorizes 150 euros to be taken out of the user’s account for each type of plan. The money isn’t actually taken out, but the company is authorized to do so in case of theft or bike damage. Long-term (annual) subscription : €39 or €29 Short-term (7-day) subscription : €8  Short-term (1-day) subscription…
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Lead photo credit : Paris metro sign by John Pannell/Flickr

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