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The Paris Metro Guide was last updated on 2nd of January 2023 by Lena
Very common questions in my Paris travel group (join here, it’s free!) are about how to get around in Paris. But also, what is the best Paris Metro pass or travel card for the Parisian Metro. And of course: how to use the Metro in Paris in the first place. I totally understand that public transportation in Paris can be confusing.
Hence, in this article, I am sharing everything you need to know to confidently ride the Parisian Metro, how to pick the best Metro ticket for your situation and how to pay for the Metro in Paris.
If you are planning your Paris trip, you will also be interested in these articles:
- How to get from the Airport to Paris Center
- Most common SCAMS and cons in Paris – and how to stay safe
- Paris Packing Essentials: Don’t travel without those items
- 10 Paris Hot Spots – and what you could do instead
Being a traveler myself, I know how silly I feel when I don’t know how public transportation works in a foreign country. Believe me, I took a taxi or walked way more often than I dare to admit… just because I couldn’t figure it out.
But I got you! I will help you out and share everything you need to know before you go to rock Paris Public Transportation services. Read on, because this guide is equipping you with enough know-how to get around Paris without issues.
The Parisian Metro – the 3 big DONT’s
In the following, I will explain everything you need to know to use the Parisian Metro, but let’s start with the most important: the top 3 things you should know to avoid a fine.
If a visitor complains about getting fined in the Parisian Metro, it’s usually because of one of these three mistakes:
- They trashed their Metro ticket before they left the station
- They bought a kid fare for a 10-year-old child – the reduced fare is only for children until 9!
- If your ticket has a field for you to add your name and the date, do it. Otherwise, your ticket is not valid
Tickets and fares for Public Transportation in Paris
The first question everyone asks who plans to use the Parisian Metro is “What ticket do I need for the Paris Metro”?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question, as it heavily depends on what your plans are. For tourists, there are overall 3 tickets interesting. The single fare ticket, the day pass, and the week pass.
There are 3 different Metro ticket variations
- the ticket+ paper strip (phasing out and less and less available in 2023)
- Navigo Easy: a Paris Metro pass that serves as a support for single-fare tickets and day tickets
- Passe Navigo Decouverte: a card that serves as support, mainly used for week and month tickets
Single-fare tickets for the Metro in Paris
As you just learned, there are different ticket options for the Parisian Metro, the single-fare tickets are however the most standard option. You simply buy a ticket and validate one ticket per trip and person.
All tickets are purchasable for different zones – the further you are moving away from Paris, the more expensive gets your ride.
Paris Metro Tap to Pay: Unlike in many other countries, you can’t pay for the Paris Metro directly with your credit card. You are required to obtain a Navigo Passe to load your tickets on.
You can pay the tickets for the Navigo Passe with your credit carte. However, at the time of writing, the machines are a bit behind. Paris Metro contactless Payment? Not a thing.
How much does transportation in Paris cost? Know what to expect:
Paris and adjacent suburbs
1,69 € (in a bundle)
3,05 € one way
5,00 € one way
12,10 € (incl. Orlyval)
Charles de Gaulle Airport
11,45 € (one way)
The good ol’paper strip – the classic billet
If you’ve been to Paris already, you probably remember these famous paper strips. Well, they are very soon history. Since a few years – and then delayed due to a certain health crisis – they are planning on phasing them out. At the time of writing, many Metro and RER stations are already not equipped for them anymore.
But don’t despair, the paper strip is just replaced by a numeric version. Either in form of a travel card, or even by an app.
The base ticket: the ticket+.
The base ticket for the Parisian Metro is a ticket t+. It costs 2,10 € (1,69 € if you buy a bundle of 10) and is valid within Paris and all adjacent suburbs.
You can change Metro lines as often as you want, as long as you are not exceeding 2 hours and don’t leave the station. You can purchase a single-ride ticket on the ticket machines that you find in every metro station and load it on your Navigo Easy travel card.
Digital ticket+ – Paris Metro Contactless
Since 2019 you can use single-ride tickets digitally. To do so, you need a Navigo Easy Card to charge your tickets. You can easily load single rides or a bundle of 10. The latter is financially very interesting, as you save 20%. Hence, 10 rides are only 16,90 €, while you’d be charged 2,10€ if you’d buy a single ride.
You can purchase the Navigo Easy card at the ticket counter or RATP info point of every Metro station, it costs 2€. To charge your card, you either can use an app, or the vending machine, or pay at the RATP ticket counter.
Good to Know: You can’t split the Navigo Easy Card up between several passengers. It’s always one card per person, and each person in your group needs their personal card.
Are kids riding the Parisian Metro for free?
Only Kids under 4 are traveling for free on Paris public transportation. Kids of the age of 4 to 9 (not 3 anymore, and not yet 10) are eligible to travel at a reduced fare of 50%.
Reduced fares are also available as a bundle of 10 (carnet). Children need their own Navigo Easy Card.
Paris Day Travel Passes
You also have the option to purchase a Paris Metro day pass for the public transportation system.
This option allows you to take as many rides as you like within one day. The pass costs 8,45€ for zone 1-2 and is valid from 00-24h. Hence, if you buy a pass at 10 am, you can ride for free until midnight, not until 10 am the next day.
The day ticket is available with the Pass Navigo Easy and Navigo Decouverte.
The big advantage of a day pass is of course that you don’t have to think at all about any further costs when riding the Parisian Metro. But you should consider that it requires 5 rides for your day pass to be beneficial (compared to the 10 ticket carnet). From my experience, 5 rides are quite a lot for one day in Paris.
That’s because Paris is smaller than you may think. You will rarely need more than 3 or 4 rides a day.
If you consider purchasing a day pass, keep in mind that a trip to Versailles for example requires a higher price class. At the time of writing, a day pass that includes Versailles costs around €13.
Week and tourist passes for the Paris Metro
If you stay a few days longer in Paris, a ticket that is valid for a few days could be interesting for you. You have two options:
Navigo Semaine – week pass
The Navigo Semaine carte is a transport pass for 7 days and comes at a very interesting price. It allows you to travel in all 5 zones, hence even to the airport, to Disneyland and Versailles for only 30,00€.
But all good things come with a catch: the Navigo Semaine is not obtainable at all stations and is only valid from Monday morning to Sunday night. You can’t pick your dates.
As a tourist, you need to purchase a Passe Navigo Decouverte for 5€ as support. However, you can also use the Navigo App.
Paris Visite Passe: Tourist Pass for Public transportation in Paris
The tourist pass covers a maximum of 5 days and you can choose both, the dates and the zones that you require. Even though the flexibility is a very strong point of the Paris Visite Pass, it is quite pricy.
Conclusion – which Metro ticket is the best for Paris?
Personally, I think single fare tickets are the best option. Both, as a favorable digital bundle of 10 or classic paper strips that you can share with your travel partners. It’s very convenient that they require zero preparation, you can just buy them at the multilingual vending machine, and you’re good to go. Especially as you will rarely take more than 4 rides a day.
The single fare tickets are your best option if:
- your accommodation is in Paris or adjacent suburbs (click here to see a list of good budget hotels in Paris)
- you plan to leave Paris only once or twice (for example to visit Disneyland or Versailles) on your own and are not taking one of the really well organized day tours from Paris
- you are not having reduced mobility and walking is no problem
Compared to single-ride tickets, you need to take the Metro too often to benefit from a day pass. The cheap week pass is however not really easy to get and not flexible when it comes to dates. The Paris Visite Pass is disproportionally expensive.
Below you find a review of the different ticket options in Paris:
Single Fare Ticket
• cheap and flexible
• works with an App
• you need a new ticket if you connect from the Metro to Tram or Bus
• Paris unlimited metro pass
• requires many rides to become
• very beneficial if your accommodation is not in Paris
• can’t be purchased at every station
• Monday to Sunday, not flexible
• 5 € service fee to obtain Navigo Decouverte Pass
Paris Visite Pass
• Discounts at attractions and in stores
• can be delivered to your home address
• Versailles, Disneyland, and airports are possible
• high price
How to use the Metro in Paris?
Now that you know the essentials about the different Ticket options for your Paris vacation, let’s move on and see where to buy them, how to validate your tickets and how to ride the metro in the first place.
Where to buy the Tickets for the Parisian Metro?
You can purchase your Metro ticket at ticket machines that are available at every train, tram, and metro station. The ticket machines are multilingual. Most train and metro stations are also having a RATP info point, in case you require help.
Note: RATP employees are always wearing green uniforms. If someone approaches you without this uniform and offers help, watch out! It became a somewhat common scam to sell already used tickets to tourists. You can read more on Paris tourist scams here.
Where to get it
Single Fare Ticket on Navigo Easy Pass
Navigo Easy Pass: at the RATP info point or per app. Tickets can be charged per app, on the vending machine, or at the info point.
Day Tickets (for Navigo Easy or Navigo Decouverte)
Navigo Pass: at the RATP info point or per app. Tickets can be charged per App, on the vending machine, or at the info point.
Week Tickets (only for Passe Navigo Découverte (not to be confused with Navigo Easy, that’s a different card)
Passe Navigo Découverte: at one of this RATP info points . Can be charged at ticket machines or App
Paris Visite Pass
in the Parisian tourism office or at the ticket machines
How to use the vending machines
If you are buying a ticket at the ticket machine, your will be prompted to choose your language first. Makes it easier, doesn’t it? However, while most machines are equipped with a touchscreen, some older models have a kind of roll that helps you scroll through the menu.
The menu is pretty intuitive and self-explanatory. Many popular destinations like airports or Disneyland are preselected.
How to pay for the Metro in Paris?
When you are in Paris, you can’t pay the Metro directly with your credit card. You need to get a Navigo Pass, either a physical or a digital one on your phone, and top it up with the ticket of your choice.
You pay for the tickets at the vending machine with a credit card (American Express is not accepted) or cash. At the time of writing, you can’t pay for the Paris Metro contactless with your credit card. It requires your pin code.
How to validate a ticket in the Parisian Metro?
Buying your ticket is not enough, you need to validate it before each ride. If you are using a paper ticket, you need to pass it through the slot on the right side of the turnstile. However, in 2023, you won’t find many machines, that are still equipped with this form of validation.
If you are the owner of a Navigo Decoverte or Navigo Easy Pass, simply place your card over the purple reader to unlock the turnstiles.
If the flap doors are open, still validate your ticket. If you get controlled without a validated ticket, you’ll receive a fine.
Using the Metro in Paris with luggage or strollers
If you find yourself in a situation where it’s not possible to use the turnstiles or flap doors, don’t worry. Every metro station has a gate, that can be opened on request. Just don’t forget to validate your ticket though!
Is the Metro in Paris barrier-free?
Unfortunately, no. Not at all. Many stations were built more than 100 years ago and barrier-free access wasn’t on the radar of anyone back then. Some stations got reequipped with elevators during the last years, but it’s by far not enough to rely on the Metro as public transportation if you need barrier-free access.
Solely line 14 is completely barrier-free. However, the good news is, that Paris has a great bus network as well and all busses are barrier-free.
How to read the Metro plan?
At the first glimpse, the Metro plan does look indeed like a huge mess. But don’t worry, it’s actually quite easy to understand. Each Metro line crosses Paris from one side to another and back and consequently has a starting and end station. Just check in which direction your destination lays and you’re good to go.
For example: If you are at the station at Hôtel de Ville and you intend to visit the Arc de Triomphe, you need to take line 1 direction La Defense. If you want to visit the Bastille, you would need to board Metro 1 as well, but heading in the opposite direction of Château de Vincennes.
It helps a lot that each Metro stairway is featuring a signpost that indicates exactly which station this very line and direction will serve. Each Metro line has its own platform – contrary to Berlin for example, where several lines are stopping at the same platform.
A good piece of advice is to get familiar with the plan before traveling to Paris. Check which Metro station is the closest to your accommodation, how to get from there to the Eiffel Tower etc. and you will see that it quickly makes sense.
You can download the plan here. If you prefer the paper version, you can get one for free at every Metro station.
What changed since the Health Crisis? Is it safe to use the Metro?
While things are calming down, measurements and rules will probably change in the future again to respond better to the changing situation; however, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Face masks are not obligatory when entering any station, but are recommended (updated January 2023).
- Some stations are equipped with sanitizer
Safety in Paris’ Public Transportation
I read very often that people are worried about their safety when traveling to Paris. One of the main concerns is getting scammed or robbed.
I can’t deny that there is a certain risk. Especially since a couple of years, reports of scams and pickpockets are rising. However, we should keep in mind, that the Parisian Metro transports more than 4 Million passengers per day. And only a small hand full experiences any issues at all.
Well, except for delays and technical problems, that’s another story.
Paris is a metropolis after all. But did you know that Paris ranks just behind London and Malmö, Sweden in the international safety ranking?
I’d say the Paris Metro is safe. Every Parisian takes the metro at all times, often you’ll find the Metro fuller at midnight than at 3 pm and the passengers are not any dodgy weirdos but absolutely random folks.
There are still some things you should keep in mind:
- take care of your stuff and be conscious about your belongings while traveling on the Parisian Metro. Don’t have your bag just above your shoulder, but hold the string. You don’t need to hold your bag like a maniac but show that you’re wary
- and try to avoid using your phone. It can happen that someone grabs it and runs just at the very moment the doors are closing.
- if there is a safety announcement about pickpockets, DO NOT check if your wallet is still where it should be. Someone might check for exactly this reflex and you happily tell the thief where he has to look for your treasures
- don’t get distracted and forget about your belongings. I got my wallet stolen once; while I was trying to push a stroller with one hand while trying to hold a gate with the other.
Other means of public transportation in Paris
If you are traveling to Paris, the Metro is the most obvious public transportation to take. However, there might be many reasons why this is not possible or appealing to you. Luckily there are other means of public transportation that are belonging to the RATP network.
What does RATP stand for? Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transportation. RATP is your point of contact and the operator of every sort of public transportation within the Paris region.
Which ticket do I need for public transportation that is NOT the Metro?
Luckily, there is no different ticket needed. No matter what kind of public transportation you choose, the ticket remains the same. It just might vary depending on the distance or the zones, but that’s about it. This applies especially to buses and trams.
Tickets for busses and trams in Paris
One ticket t+ is valid for 90 minutes while using buses and trams. You can transfer between both services but you need to revalidate your ticket when boarding a new vehicle.
Exception: If you purchase your ticket on the bus, you can’t make a transfer. The tickets sold onboard are only for one bus trip without transfer.
update 2021 – you can buy your bus ticket by SMS now. Simply send an SMS with the text BUS+Number to 93100, and you receive a ticket by SMS.
It costs 2,50€, and counts only for the bus trip, not for transfers. If you are on Bus 26 for example, send BUS26 to the number 93100 and you’ll receive your ticket on your phone.
More public transportation in Paris
If you are traveling only in Paris, you have only the option to hop on a bus or Metro. If you venture a bit outside the capital, you have more options.
RER (Suburb train)
The RER is much like Paris Metro, but a little faster and with fewer stations. However, the RER is basically a suburban train that connects Paris with surrounding cities. If you want to visit Versailles for example, you would take the RER C, Disney is served by RER A.
If you are not using the Navigo Decouverte for all zones or a 5 zones day pass, make sure to purchase a ticket with the appropriate amount of zones or a ticket that indicated your destination.
Paris and its surrounding are divided into 5 zones. You need to purchase a ticket for all zones that you cross on your way. But don’t worry too much about it, if you are at a ticket machine, you can simply click on “Ticket Île-de-France” (Billets Île-de-France) and pick your destination. You will obtain a station-to-station ticket that covers automatically the appropriate amount of zones.
Paris by Bus
Busses are running everywhere: inside Paris, outside Paris, from Paris to suburb, and from suburb to suburb. The tickets are the same as for Metro, you need a Ticket t+. You can transfer with the same ticket from bus to bus or to tram, but not to Metro or RER, which would require a new ticket.
If you are not depending on getting around by bus (Busses are barrier-free), I’d recommend avoiding them during a short-term stay. Schedules and maps are rather complicated and due to the Parisian traffic, they can be really sloooow.
Noctilien Night Buses
To fill the gap between the last and first Metro/Tram/RER, night buses are operating in Paris and connecting the city with the greater Paris area. Noctilien busses are clearly the cheapest way to get home after a long night as you can board them with the usual ticket t+. Just keep in mind that your fellow passengers also had a long night out and might be everything but sober.
Taking the tram in Paris
The Tramway is relatively new in Paris and is built roughly as a circle around Paris, more or less parallel to the freeway. In order to board the tram, you need a ticket t+. With one validated ticket, you can transfer from tram to tram or from tram to bus, but you need a new ticket to transfer to Metro or RER.
The Orlyval is the sky train that operates between the Orly Airport and the next RER Station Anthony. The one-way ticket costs 11,00€ if you purchase the Orlyval in combination with an RER ticket to Paris, it’s around 13€.
If you’re traveling in a group, it might be cheaper to take an Uber from the RER station in Anthony to Orly Airport for about 10-15€.
Are you landing at Paris Charles de Gaulle/Roissy (CDG)? Don’t miss our detailed guide on how to get to Paris from the airport!
Voilà, the Parisian Metro explained – hopefully in an understandable way! If you have any questions about it, don’t hesitate to join our Facebook community. It’s a great knowledge hub with many experts, happy to help you out. Join here today for free.
PS: Check out these posts, they will help you plan your trip to Paris
- Paris hidden gems: 80+ well kept secrets you shouldn’t miss
- What NOT to do in Paris -23 (costly) Paris Mistakes you need to avoid!
- 14 Hotels with stunning Eiffel Tower views- for (almost) every budget!
- Your Perfect 2 Days in Paris! Itinerary & Insider Tips
- These are the best 5 Cabarets in Paris
- 5 ways to get from Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris – THE complete guide!
- Scams in Paris! How to avoid the most common cons
FAQ: How to use the Paris Metro
You need to purchase the travel card Navigo at the station and load it up with the tickets of your choice. Alternatively, you can also get the App Île-de-France Mobilités that not only serves as a travel planner but also as a ticket device.
You can purchase your Metro ticket with a credit card, but your credit card can’t be used directly at the barriers to entering the Metro.
The Metro is as safe at night as by day and is always heavily used.
A Metro Ticket for a single ride costs 2,10 € in 2023. A bundle of 10 tickets costs 16,90 €.
You use the roll to scroll up and down the menu and pick the ticket of your choice. Most popular picks are single-ride tickets, bundles of 10, and destination tickets, where you choose your destination station outside of Paris. To charge your Navigo pass, place it on the purple field, so the machine can read it.
The popular cardboard tickets are currently phasing out. The process was delayed to to delivery delays of Navigo Cards, but at the time of writing, it’s moving on. Many stations are not equipped with paper ticket readers anymore and you can’t purchase them anymore at the vending machines.
You place your Navigo Carte on the card reader before the turnstiles and wait until it “beeps”. You can pass then through the turnstile or gate.
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