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Last updated on 21st of June 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 about what is the best 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.
How to use the Parisian Metro?
Content of this post
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 to rock Paris Public Transportation services as you do. Read on, because this guide is equipping you with enough know-how to get around Paris without issues.
Before you start to dive deep into the different ticket options for the Parisian Metro, take a moment to think about what you want to see in Paris. I am sure you already have a few ideas, right? I am asking because instead of buying simple Metro tickets or a not-so-cheap travel card, you also have the option to get a Paris City Pass.
With the Paris City Pass, you could save a lot of time, money, and stress!
What is the Paris City Pass?
The Paris City Pass is the ultimate care-free package for your Paris vacation. Pass holders have nothing else to do than travel to Paris and enjoy the city. The pass includes free admission to more than 60 of the most popular attractions in Paris, guided walking tours, sightseeing tours, and of course the free and unlimited usage of the Parisian Metro. Click here to read more about this very handy offer
The highlights of the Paris City Pass
- Skip the Line entry the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and the Centré Pompidou (due to Covid19 you need to reserve your spot)
- free admission to the Castle of Versailles, Sainte Chapelle, Conciergerie, and many more
- free guided tours and city walks for example in Montmartre, through the gigantic Stade de France, Street Art Tours etc.
- Wine tasting in the Cave de Louvre
- a panoramic river cruise on the Seine and a bus sightseeing tour
- free usage of public transportation in Paris
- Discounts in many restaurants and stores
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
Alright, now that this is settled, let’s start!
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 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 ticket variations
- the paper ticket strip
- Navigo Easy: a card 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.
How much does transportation in Paris cost? Know what to expect:
|Paris and adjacent suburbs||Zone 1-2||ab 1,49 €|
|Versailles Castle||Zone 4||3,65 € one way|
|Disneyland||Zone 5||7,60 € one way|
|Orly Airport||Zone 5||12,10 € (incl. Orlyval)|
|Charles de Gaulle Airport||Zone 5||4,70€ (one way)|
The good ol’ paper strip – the classic!
The base ticket for the Parisian Metro is a ticket t+. It costs 1,90 € 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.
The ticket t+ is also valid for the Funiculare de Montmartre.
However, interesting for your Paris vacation is the carnet. A carnet is a bundle of 10 single rides and costs only 16,90 €. The most practical feature is that you can split it up between your travel party.
Note: It can happen that your ticket demagnetizes. You can exchange those tickets easily at the RATP info points that you find at every station
digital tickets t+ – paperless rides
Since 2019 you can although use single ride tickets digitally. In order to do so, you need a Navigo Easy Card to charge your tickets. The big plus of the digitalized version of the ticket t+ is that you save 25% when buying a carnet (bundle of 10 tickets) – hence it costs only 14,90 €.
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, the automat, or pay at the RATP ticket counter. The only negative aspect of this card is that you can’t be split up between several passengers. It’s always one card per person and each person in your group needs their own card.
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), both digitally and as a paper strip. If you opt-in for the digital version, you need to purchase a Navigo Easy card for your child.
Paris Day Travel Passes
You also have the option to purchase a day pass for the Parisian public transportation system. This option allows you to take as many rides as you like within one day. The pass costs 7,50€ 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 only available with the Pass Navigo Decouverte, not as a paper ticket.
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 in order for your day pass to be beneficial (compared to the 10 ticket carnet). From my own experience, 5 rides are quite a lot for one day in Paris.
Paris is smaller than you think and 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 Paris
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:
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 22,80€. 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 – the 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. The pass costs between 12 € (1 day, Paris only) and 66 € (all zones, 5 days), however, you have some additional discounts at some sights and stores (for example 10% at the Galeries Lafayette)
Conclusion – which Metro ticket is the best for Paris?
If you are not interested in the Paris City Pass as the care-free Paris vacation package (more info here) you have quite some options.
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 are traveling with at least one more person
- 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 good 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 day tickets. 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|
|Paris Visite Pass|
How to use the Metro correctly?
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.
|Single Fare Ticket||Ticket machine at every station|
|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 (only for Navigo Easy)||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.|
|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 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.
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.
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 with 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 with Covid-19? Is it safe to use the Metro?
Don’t worry, the Metro is of course still running. But a few things changed with Covid-19. Measurements and rules will probably change in the future again to respond better to the changing situation, however, there a few things to keep in mind:
- Face masks are obligatory when entering any station and at any time of your journey (updated June 2021)
- It is also mandatory, to keep distance if possible. Signs on the ground help to respect the measurement.
- Some stations are equipped with sanitizer
- not all seats in trains and stations are available. Look out for seats without a blue sticker on them to know where it’s ok to sit.
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 to get scammed or robbed. I can’t deny that there is a certain risk. Paris is a metropole 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
- try to avoid using your phone. It can happen that someone grabs it and runs just in 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 for 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 busses and trams.
Tickets for busses and trams in Paris
One ticket t+ is valid for 90minutes while using busses and trams. You can transfer between both services but you need to revalidate your ticket when boarding a new vehicle. 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 a SMS with the text BUS+Number to 93100, and you receive a ticket by SMS. It costs 2€ and counts only for the bus trip, not for transfers. If you are in Bus 26 for example, send BUS26 to the number 93100 and you’ll receive your ticket on your phone.
More public transportation in Paris!
RER (Suburb train)
The RER is much like Paris Metro, but a little faster and with fewer stations. However, the RER is basically a suburb 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. Paris and it’s surrounding is 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 basically everywhere: inside Paris, outside Paris, from Paris to suburb, and from suburb to suburb. The tickets are the same as for Metro, the 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 busses
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 build 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.
Orlyval – only included in the Paris Visite Pass
The Orlyval is the sky train that operates between the Orly Airport and the next RER Station Anthony. The one-way ticket costs 9.30€, if you purchase the Orlyval in combination with an RER ticket to Paris, it’s 12.05€.
If you’re not a holder of the Paris Visite Pass and 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!
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