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Wondering how to use the Paris Metro to make the most of your visit to the City of Light? Find tips and tricks to navigate the city right here!
Updated: July 2022
Note: The French Government is once again recommending that you wear a mask while using public transportation. As of July 3, 2002, it is not mandatory to wear a mask but recommended.
Paris is a walking city. Parisians stroll to the market rolling along with their shopping bag, march in demonstrations, meander through their gardens and stride to meet a deadline.
Not far below those city sidewalks lies the Metro with 300 stations. Walk, walk, walk and then use the Paris Metro like a P-R-O!
Highlights of riding the Metro? Some artsy stations and watching a slice of Parisian life.
Parisians read voraciously on the métro. Well-worn books. Voltaire. Baudelaire. In 2022, not so much anymore. Everyone is on their cell phones.
The women effortlessly exude elegance and grace, despite heat, rain or jostling crowds.
Seats are offered to the elderly.
Earbuds grace many poker-faced travellers.
And the men? Jaunty scarves. Bare ankles between their dress pants and shoes.
In Paris, even on the Metro, there is always love in the air. Classy couples are completely absorbed in each other’s gaze. Hand holding. Even the odd kiss.
It’s all there waiting for you!
Whether travelling solo in Paris or with a buddy, this ultimate guide will show you how to use the Paris metro with ease.
Here’s How To Use The Metro in Paris France
How To Use the Paris Metro | FAQ
Using The Paris Metro: Find The Stations
Using the Paris Subway? Start with finding a station close to where you are staying. Station entrances are designated in a variety of ways as shown below – the yellow M, the red Metro and Metropolitain signs and the most delightful Art Nouveau entranceways which are marked with the yellow Metropolitain signs.
How To Use The Paris Metro: Tickets And Passes
The T+ ticket will get you everywhere you need to go on Paris public transportation but you might also want to investigate some of the passes available.
The regular T+ ticket can be bought in metro stations using cash or credit card. They are good for the Métro, RER (travel within city limits), buses, tramways and the Montmartre funicular.
Cost: 1.90€ ($2.90 Cdn) per ticket
A great option is to purchase a carnet which is a stack of ten separate T+ tickets. The carnet or booklet of tickets sells at a slightly discounted price. This way you have T+ tickets on hand, ready to go at any time. Go to the counter and ask for a carnet (“car – nay”) or purchase from the machines.
Cost: 14.90€ ($22.50 Cdn)
Once validated, the T+ ticket is good for 2 hours on metro lines and RER networks. On buses and trams, the T+ is good for 90 minutes.
How to Use the Paris Metro Tip 1: On a single journey, you cannot use the same ticket on a metro and a bus. It happened recently. I asked the bus driver explicitly and had to tap my card again.
How to Use the Paris Metro Tip 2: Keep your T+ ticket until you are finished your metro journey. It is not unusual for officials to ask to see your validated ticket. I have been asked many times. They scan your ticket to see that you paid.
Navigo Easy Pass:
This Paris public transportation pass is ideal. Load a “carnet” of T+ tickets and then you are not looking for individual tickets. Eventually, this card will replace the T+ paper tickets. I usually load one carnet at a time but you can load more (up to 29 tickets) and also Orlybus and Roissybus tickets to get you to the airports. A super convenient pass.
Pro Tip For Buses: Since COVID-19, you cannot buy a ticket on the Paris buses anymore. Have a ticket handy or use your Navigo Easy Pass.
Mobilis Day Pass:
Just have one day in Paris? The Mobilis Day Pass allows unlimited metro use in the zones you have selected. A pass for the central city (zones 1-2) where the most popular attractions are located might be handy. The day pass is good for 24 hours starting from 0:00 until 23:59. The cost of the pass is dependent on how many zones you are travelling through.
Cost: 7.50€ (for zones 1 and 2); the cost ranges from 10.00€ – 17.80€ ($15.00 – $26.90 Cdn) if you want to travel in more zones
Paris Visite Travel Pass:
Valid for 1,2,3 or 5 consecutive days, this pass allows you to travel anywhere in Paris (zones 1-3) or in the Paris and Ile-de-France area which includes Chateau de Versailles, Disneyland Paris and Orly airport.
Cost: Depending on the number of days and the zones covered in your pass, the prices vary. Check here for costs.
Navigo Discovery Card | Navigo Découverte
One Week Unlimited:
This card for Paris public transportation is of great value if you are a frequent visitor to Paris or staying for a week and want to hop on and off the Metro a lot.
The only catch is that it is valid from Monday until the following Sunday. No flexibility in the days here! It can be purchased starting the previous Friday. The Navigo Découverte is good for central Paris, all Zones 1-5, RER trains, Charles de Gaulle airport, the Orlybus to Orly Airport, Disneyland Paris and Versailles.
Feel like a Parisian! Instead of fumbling in your pocket for a T+, swipe your card across the electronic panel as you glide through the turnstile.
Cost: 22.80€ Initial cost: 5€ for the card; 5€ to have a photo taken at a booth in the station. Don’t forget to smile for your photo! The card lasts ten years
Inclusive Passes: Transportation and Attractions
These four passes are all variations on the same theme. Included in the price of the pass are reduced entrance fees (some free), skip-the-line features and unlimited transportation travel. Most likely, the longer you are in Paris, the better value you will get from a pass.
The Paris Convention and Visitors Office offers the Paris Passlib’ which is available for 1, 2, 3, or 5-day visits. Included in this pass is unlimited transportation travel in zones 1-3 (for 2, 3 and 5-day pass) and a Paris Museum Pass that gives reduced entrance fees to attractions and a fast track entry feature.
The Paris Pass includes the Paris Visite Travel Pass, access to 60 activities and skip-the-line entry.
Turbopass Paris has a Paris City Pass (this is confusing – non?!). It includes the Paris Visite Travel Pass, access to many attractions and a skip-the-line feature.
Paris Fast Pass:
Viator offers the Paris Fast Pass which has access to many attractions but not unlimited travel on the Paris Metro system.
I have personally never used one of these passes but depending on how long you are staying and which attractions you plan to visit, it is worth doing some research to see how much money you can save. Read this post which compares the passes.
Using The Metro In Paris: Buying Tickets
Tickets can be purchased from the ticket window in the station or at automated machines located in each station. The machines take Euro coins and smart chip credit cards. Some machines accept Euro bills, but not all. Never purchase tickets from a person posing as a ticket agent. Read more about common Paris scams here.
To enter the Metro, feed the ticket magnetic strip down into the machine. Grab it when it pops out and go through the gate. Hold onto this ticket until you exit at your destination. You may be asked to show it to a Metro official.
Keep unused tickets and used tickets separately. Let’s just say the T1 mix-up has happened before!
We have our tickets, and now onto the fun part!
Plan Your Route Using The Metro In Paris
Determine the number and colour of the Metro line that you require. If necessary, figure out at which station you need to transfer to a different line. Knowing the number of the Metro line is critical for navigating your route. Know the final destination of the train and don’t worry if you find yourself going in the wrong direction. Just get off and go the other way!
What To Expect When Using the Metro in Paris France
Paris Subway Doors:
Older cars: These Paris Metro doors do not open automatically. Flip the silver handle UP to get on and off
Other older cars: These doors do not open automatically. Push the blue button to get on and off
Newer cars: The newest Paris Metro doors open automatically when the train is in the station.
When the tone rings, the doors close a few seconds after. Dash for a Paris subway but listen for the tone!
There are multiple numbered exits (usually marked in blue) at many Paris metro stations. If you are not sure which one you need, take a look at the District Map (Plan du Quartier) on the wall by the exit. Also, look carefully at the App or Google Maps. An exit from the Paris subway station will be suggested that is closest to your final destination.
Using a different exit at the same Paris metro station can lead to quite the adventure! You may end up a block or two away, on the other side of the street and totally turned around.
It is not unusual to exit the Paris Metro and be a bit unsure of which direction to take. Nation, for example, is a huge station. Much to my disbelief, yet appealing to my adventurous side, it took me a week to finally find the exit closest to my Air BnB! True story.
If you are meeting someone, be sure to clarify which “sortie” you are meeting at. I use the number of the “sortie.”
Rush Hour When Using The Paris Metro:
Try to avoid travelling on the Paris Metro at rush hour. Note that the fold-up chairs stayed folded up during rush hour so that more people can fit in each car. If the car is crowded do not pull down one of these seats. Also, if you are carrying a backpack wear it on your front or slip it off one shoulder and under your arm. This creates more space around you and also protects your belongings.
The Paris Metro: A Typical Trip
A typical Paris Metro trip might include the following:
- lots of stairs – up and down – Sometimes there are over 100 stairs to climb. The stop with the most stairs is Abbesses, the deepest Metro station in Paris.
- not all stations have an elevator
- look for the exit with an escalator
- buskers in the stations and the train cars
- a wayward soul shouting out their story, asking for money
- families begging for money
- mega kilometres covered as you walk the long passageways from line to line
- announcements to “mind the gap” between the train and the platform and to be wary of pickpockets (hang on tightly to your belongings)
Safety When Using the Paris Metro
Speaking of pickpockets… I saw a woman crying her eyes out to a Metro official after being robbed. Two Parisians I met were adamant about keeping my belongings secure on the Metro. And, I have personally heard of some very slick pickpocketing and scams happening.
So, I changed how I use the Paris Metro:
- I used to sit on the jump seat by the door with my backpack or purse on my lap. After envisioning someone racing out the door and grabbing it, I never sit by the door. I either stand and slide my pack off one shoulder so it is right in front of me and secure under my arm or I take a seat by the window
- I never carry my wallet in an outer pocket and usually make sure it is buried deep in my bag. A pain when paying for things but highly inaccessible to thieves
- I am known to use my undercover bra stash to store a credit card and extra cash
- 99% of the time I know my route – which lines and stop I need. I always walk with confidence as though I know where I am going…even when I don’t.
Notice The Art Nouveau Metro Entrances!
Don’t forget to notice the unique Art Nouveau station entrances scattered throughout the city. Designed by Hector Guimard from 1900-1913, the elegant lettering and green cast ironwork invite you underground. There are still 86 Metro entranceways like this in Paris which are designated as historical monuments. Read more about Art Nouveau in Paris.
Have fun discovering Paris and using the Paris Métro like a pro!
Any questions? Fire them my way!
Paris Travel Resources:
All my Paris resources are right here on this page.
Now that you know how to use the Paris metro, hop on to discover these neighbourhoods.
Le Marais is one of the oldest areas of Paris. Once marshland, it is full of boutiques, cafés, gorgeous old mansions and museums. Read my full guide to le Marais and also insider Marais tips from a local.
Montmartre feels like a small village. This post on Montmartre leads you to the most popular sites as well as some lesser-known places on the hill.
Ile Saint-Louis is still one of my favourite spots in Paris. On Pont Saint-Louis, you’ll almost always find some street music.
And Montparnasse. Most people think of the tall black tower looming over the Paris skyline or the train station. This guide on Montparnasse uncovers some marvellous things to discover in the 14th arrondissement.
If you like being by the water, Ile aux Cygnes in the Seine might be for you! The Statue of Liberty, views of the Eiffel Tower and locals walking their dogs!
Gastronomy In Paris
If you are looking for food suggestions, read about where to find the best croissants in Paris. And, if you have a sweet tooth like me, check out these best pâtisseries to try. There are also plenty of café suggestions for the Marais area in this post: Tips from a Local.
Travelling to Paris alone? This article on navigating Paris alone is full of tips and tricks for the solo traveller.
This page has all my articles on Paris that will help you plan out your trip, including day trips from Paris. I hope you subscribed to my newsletter to get my free download – An Amazing 2-day Itinerary in Paris.
If you are going further afield in France, make sure to check out my page on France.
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