Before traveling anywhere by public transport, get free maps of the metro (metro), buses and rail networks around Paris (available at airports and stations). Other useful brochures for metro stations are Paris Visite – Le Guide, with details on transport tickets and a small map, and Plan de Paris, a leaflet showing Noctambus night bus lines.
Paris and the suburbs are divided into six travel zones; zones 1 and 2 cover the city center. RATP tickets and passes are valid on the metro, bus and RER. Tickets and booklets can be purchased at metro stations, tourist offices and tobaccos; single tickets can also be purchased on buses. Keep your ticket in case of spot checks; you will also need it to leave the RER stations.
1. Metro and RER
The Paris metro is the fastest and cheapest means of transport. Trains run from 5.30 a.m. to 12.40 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 5.30 a.m. to 1.30 a.m. from Friday to Sunday. The individual lines are numbered, each direction being named after the last stop. Follow the orange correspondence to change the line. Some interchanges, such as Châtelet-Les-Halles, Montparnasse-Bienvenüe and République, involve long walks. The output (Output) is indicated in blue. The driverless line 14 links St-Lazare station to the Olympiads. Pickpockets and bag snatchers are common on the network – pay special attention to closing doors.
The five RER lines (A, B, C, D and E) run every day from 5.30 am to 1 am through Paris and the suburbs. In Paris, the RER is useful for faster journeys – Châtelet-Les-Halles to Gare du Nord is one stop from the RER and six from the metro. Metro tickets are valid for RER journeys in zones 1 and 2.
Buses run from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm, some routes continuing until 12:30 pm from Monday to Saturday; limited services operate on certain sun lines. You can use a metro ticket, a ticket purchased from the driver (€ 1.90) or a transport ticket. Tickets must be struck in the machine next to the driver; passes must be presented to the driver. When you wish to descend, press the red request button.
3. Night buses
After the metro and bus stops, the only public transport – excluding taxis – is the 42 Noctilien lines, between Place du Châtelet and the suburbs (every hour from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Monday to Thursday; every half hours from 1 a.m. to 5:35 a.m. Fri, Sat); look for the Noctilien logo at the bus stops or the N in front of the route number. A ticket costs € 1.90; passes are valid.
River buses stop at: Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, St-Germain-des-Prés (quai Malaquais), Notre-Dame, Jardin des Plantes, Hôtel de Ville, Louvre, Champs-Elysées (Pont Alexandre III). Boats every 25 minutes in high season (Mon-Thurs 10am-5pm, Fri-Sun 10am-9.30pm), every 40 minutes in low season (Mon-Thurs 10am-5pm, Fri-Sun 10am-7pm).
Two modern tram lines operate in the suburbs, going from La Défense to Issy-Val de Seine and from Bobigny Pablo Picasso to St-Denis; a third links the Garigliano Bridge in the west of the city to the Porte d’Ivry in the south-east. They communicate with the metro and the RER; the prices are the same as for buses.