You’ve planned a trip to Paris! Congratulations on knocking that destination off your bucket list. Now it’s time to get down to logistics, more specifically, getting around in Paris.
Speaking from experience, getting around in Paris can be a challenge. I can recall the first time I went to Paris. I was a student at the University of Cambridge for a summer study abroad and I took a weekend trip to explore Paris.
What I didn’t know was that from the moment I stepped off the train, I would be at a loss of just about everything because, in Paris, everything is in French. I actually had to get a police officer to help me buy tickets for the Metro so I could get to my hotel.
At 23 years old, all alone, it was a bit intimidating. But you don’t have to go through that as I did. With my tips on getting around in Paris, you’ll be able to focus on the important things like the city, the food, and the essence of ‘The City of Light’ (and not the essence of being lost).
A Little Bit About Paris
Paris is the city of light, the biggest city in France, and the 3rd most visited city in the world (in 2017 according to a Mastercard study). But most of all, it’s a beautiful and legendary city, famous for its astounding history, marvelous monuments and museums, and its immensely rich culture.
It’s everyone’s dream to go to Paris one day. And even if French people and more specifically Parisians are not really known for being the most friendly and happy people in the world – which is not that true – Paris is always a good idea.
If you want to avoid the crowd and enjoy the peaceful holidays then You can go to Disneyland Paris holidays because it is full of entertainment having beautiful resorts with two theme parks. Moreover, you can visit resort hotels, Disney nature resorts, and a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex.
Knowing the ins and outs of getting around in Paris will make your trip less stressful. That’s a fact.
Paris Transportation and Where to Stay
Whether your trip to Paris is only for one weekend or for a longer duration, there are some things you can’t miss, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Moulin Rouge, the Catacombs, the Père Lachaise cemetery (to name just a few).
Even if you stay an entire month as a tourist in Paris, there will still be things that you won’t have time to see. Paris is full of magnificent and interesting places. In almost every street you can find something special.
Nevertheless, this article is not here to present all the interesting activities that you can do in Paris. To find some original things to do and places to see, I recommend you to click here.
How to Find a Place to Stay in Paris
Finding accommodation in Paris can be a bit of a challenge especially now that France is, once again, open to vaccinated travelers for tourism. However, it’s one of the most crucial things you should arrange before your trip.
Fortunately, the city has a great number of high-end and budget hotels, B&Bs, and guest houses. Booking.com is one of the best websites to find hotels in the city. In addition, there are plenty of apartments for rent in Paris that are suitable for people who don’t wish to stay in hotel rooms.
In addition to Airbnb, check out websites such as Homelike, SeLoger, and Bie’nici if you’d rather stay in a rental home.
Getting Around in Paris
When you finally get the chance to go to The city of lights, one of the main things to take care of is getting around Paris, depending on the airport you’re landing in, the train you’re arriving on, and your hotel location.
You can find all the information you need online, on the RATP website, or on parisinfo.com. If you decide not to plan those things before arriving in the city, they’re of course places you can go to like stations of any kind, tourism information centers and more.
To help you not to be lost at the beginning of your stay, here are the main means of transport which you can find in Paris.
Paris is an expensive city, so consider a budget flight to start off your trip!
The Paris Metro
The Paris metro is the most practical means of getting around in Paris in the shortest time. The train schedule is given and numbered of trains run in various directions.
It’s the oldest way to move along the city as well as it covers all the neighborhood areas by moving on 14 different lines. It’s simple: you can go everywhere by Metro.
Moreover, it’s the best way to see how Parisian people travel and not just to stay with tourists. It’s hard to get lost in the metro stations because of all the signs being in French. The metro is mostly underground but some parts are elevated and offer great views of Paris such as line n°6 which crosses the Seine and brings you close to the Eiffel tower.
The map for the entire network is available on the RATP website for customer convenience. You can also find maps in every station and RATP employees are here to help until late in the evening.
Concerning prices, you should know that tickets are the same for metro, tramway, buses and suburban trains, which makes it very convenient. One ticket costs 1,90€, and you have the possibility to buy books of 10 tickets or unlimited passes for a day, a week or a month.
Tramway is a more recent transport network that circulates on a rail. Tramway lines go around Paris’ city center and allow to reach destinations such as Porte de Vincennes or Porte de Versailles.
Therefore, most of the famous places of Paris are not reachable by tramway, but from tramway stations, you can easily take the metro or go outside Paris by train or bus. For now, 8 lines are available, but the network is growing and soon Paris will be entirely surrounded by tramway lines.
Since tramways were recently constructed, they are modern, clean, and even have air conditioning. Besides, they are circulating next to main roads and by taking one of them you have a chance to see less famous areas of Paris.
Suburban Train: RER
Connected to Paris metro in many stations, the suburban train or RER (Réseau Express Régional) allows going way further outside the city’s heart than the other transport means. If getting around in Paris means going off the beaten path, then this is helpful for you.
It’s made to reach all the suburbs of Paris to permit people who live there to reach the heart of the city and their offices in a minimum of time.
Today it covers 587 kilometers and it’s still expanding. There are a lot of RER stations inside the city and you can reach easily and quickly (RER is a train so it’s faster than Tramway, bus or metro) some famous Paris destinations which are quite distant from the city such as Disneyland, the Stade de France or the castle of Versailles.
So, even if you don’t use the RER so often, know that it can be a good alternative solution, especially if you want to reach farther destinations.
Buses are also available so that the 2.2 million people living in the city and the 30 million tourists who come every year can be driven from one place to another. The Paris bus network is also managed by the RATP (Regie Autonome des Transport Parisiens) and is constituted of 353 lines.
It’s the biggest transport network in the city. Bus stops are available anywhere and anytime. Traveling by bus is the best option when you‘re discovering the city because you can see all the places, streets you are crossing through the window of the vehicle, which is not possible with the metro.
If you don’t stay for too long, the bus will be your main alternative to the Metro to see the less touristic places which make the essence of the city.
Boats are the most amazing and enjoyable way to visit a part of Paris. The Seine is Paris’ best avenue. It is a distinctive and special way to travel and joy. You have several possibilities:
First, you can take shuttle boats which can drop you at 8 different stops such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Champs Elysees.
All the best places, monuments, and buildings are located along the banks of the Seine. Traveling from one place to another by boat brings a supplement of beauty and charm to your stay, especially in Paris.
You can get an unlimited 2 day pass for 19€ and 10€ for children from 3 to 15 years. All the information is available on the website batobus.com.
Secondly, the other kind of boat is the famous “Bateaux Mouches.” Taking these boats seems like an inescapable activity for tourists in Paris. They are a symbol of French elegance and way of life.
Other Means: Shuttle Bus, Taxi, UBER
Like most of the cities in the world, Paris has its Taxis. If they are not as mythical as London taxis, there are very numerous (17924 taxis in 2016) and can still be very useful in some situations.
UBER drivers are also available all over the cities, with the cheapest prices and more options: uberPOOL, uberX, and uberVAN. Other companies such as Taxify, Lyft, and Chauffeur privé provide the same kind of services.
You can also find affordable shuttle bus services such as Le Bus Direct, especially to drive you to and from Parisian airports (Orly or Roissy Charles de Gaulle) when you arrive or when you leave the city.
Going to Paris will be an incredible adventure guaranteed to bring you back for more. Don’t stress yourself with the complications of getting around in Paris. Follow my tips, plan ahead, and you’ll be well on your way to a cultural experience rather than a transportation nightmare.