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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!
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
How Much Does The Paris Metro Cost?
A single-use ticket (T+) costs 1.90€ ($2.90 Cdn) and lasts for 2 hours. Sometimes you need to feed the ticket into the machine to exit. Always keep your ticket until you have arrived at your destination. There are plenty of controllers checking you have a valid ticket.
It is cheaper to purchase a Navigo Easy Card. Each trip on the metro costs €1.49.
How To Use The Paris Metro: Get A Pass
The Paris Metro is phasing out the ability to buy a booklet of paper tickets. Thus, purchase a pass (details below) to travel the Paris metro with ease.
Checking Tickets On The Paris Metro
It is not unusual to have RATP controllers check your tickets. Do not mix up your used paper tickets with your unused ones, if you are still using paper tickets. If you have a pass, the controllers will scan your pass to see that you tapped your card.
It’s a 35 Euro fine, on the spot, for riding with expired tickets or not paying. This just happened to a friend in June 2022 – the ticket mix-up, the Métro controller would not listen to any stories and therefore a 35€ fine was paid on the spot.
When Is The Paris Metro Open?
It opens at 5:30 a.m. daily and closes at 00:40 a.m. on weekdays and at 1:40 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
How Many Paris Metro Lines Are There?
The Paris Metro has 16 lines that are designated with a number (# 1 -14 and there are 2 secondary lines) and a colour. There are 300 stations so you are never more than a few minutes walk to find the next metro stop.
Use The Paris Metro Like A Pro: Is There An App To figure Out My Route?
Yes! Try the RATP ((Paris Regional Transportation System) one called Next Stop Paris. I use Google Maps daily to find the best route.
Pick up a paper map at any metro station, or use the maps posted on the walls.
Is The Paris Metro Safe To Use?
Yes, the Paris Metro is safe. The main concern while using the Paris Metro is pickpockets. Keep your belongings close to you and be extremely vigilant. Despite the fact many Parisians use their phones on the Metro, I rarely do. Keep your smartphone zipped away while travelling on the metro and in the stations.
Are The Paris Metro And RER The Same?
The Paris Metro and the RER (Regional light rail/ suburban train lines) are separate but linked. The Paris Metro lines are designated by a colour and number and cover 2 zones. The 5 RER lines are named by letter and colour and cover 5 zones. Lines A, B, and C run from the city centre to the suburbs and the Paris airports.
Some stations are both Metro and RER stations. At such a station, for example, Chatelet or Nation, you may be crossing from a Metro to an RER entrance. You will have to feed your ticket through the machine a second time. This really confused me the first time I had to do this. Always keep your ticket until your ride is finished.
What Zones Will I Be Travelling In?
The RATP (Paris Regional Transportation System) is divided into 6 zones. As a tourist, a T+ ticket covers the city centre (zones 1 and 2) where most of the attractions are located. Versailles, for example, is in zone 4 and can be reached via RER C. This requires a more expensive ticket.
Can I Take The Paris Metro To Airport Charles de Gaulle?
Airport Charles de Gaulle is in zone 5. Take RER B. The ticket costs 10.30€ and it is about a 40-minute trip. Purchase the ticket at the machine in the metro station. DO NOT think a regular metro ticket will get you there. I recently arrived at the airport and there were 5 officers checking RER tickets as we entered the airport from the train quay.
Pro Travel Tip: In 2022, they are upgrading the RER B line for the future Olympics. Check carefully on Google maps if there are delays or disruptions.
Planning Tips For Your Trip to Paris
Book your airline tickets with my favourite platform, Skyscanner.
Book a transfer from Charles de Gaulle or Orly airport with Welcome Pick Ups.
Reserve a car (not for Paris) but for a road trip in France
Reserve train tickets for further travels in Europe with Trainline (my go-to)
Where To Stay In Paris:
Check out these 13 Affordable Hotels in Paris
Near Ile de la Cité: The Hotel Bourg Tibourg in the Marais. Find other Boutique hotels in the Marais.
Near the Arc de Triomphe: The stylish 4-star Hotel Keppler
With an Eiffel Tower View: This 3-star Hotel with excellent reviews
Near the Louvre: The charming 4-star Relais du Louvre
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.
Planning Your Paris Trip? Be sure to book in advance for the most popular things to do. Book your one-hour Seine cruise, a timed-entry ticket to the Louvre, and a skip-the-line ticket to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. And don’t forget Versailles and Disneyland!
How To Use The Paris Metro: Tickets And Passes
Note: On October 13, 2022, a booklet of paper métro tickets, the T+, is no longer available for purchase.
Read More | Au Revoir to the Paris paper Metro Ticket.
Navigo Easy Pass:
Pro Travel Tip: This is my preferred pass for travelling in Paris. All my guests are thrilled to use a Navigo Easy Pass, to load it with the app (Bonjour RATP) and to tap as they travel the Paris Métro.
The Navigo Easy Pass is a public transportation card that costs 2€. You can load a “carnet” (booklet) of 10 T+ tickets on your pass and then tap to go through the turnstile. I usually load one carnet at a time but you can load up to 29 tickets. You can also load Orlybus and Roissybus tickets to get you to the airports and a Navigo Day Pass.
With the Navigo Easy Pass, each trip on Paris transportation costs €1.49 as opposed to a paper ticket which costs €1.90.
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.
How To Load The Navigo Easy Pass:
- Go to the kiosk in a métro station and ask for any number of tickets to be loaded on the Navigo Easy pass. I find a “carnet” of ten tickets is handy. The cost of a “carnet” is €14.90.
- Go to the machines in the métro stations and load your card. Hold the card long enough on the machine, until it says it is loaded.
- Use the app Bonjour RATP which besides helping you plan your routes and letting you know of any delays, allows you to purchase and load tickets on your Navigo Easy Pass. It is also handy that the app reads the card so you always know, how many tickets remain on the card.
The regular T+ ticket can be bought in metro stations using cash or a credit card. They are good for the Métro, RER (travel within city limits), buses, tramways and the Montmartre funicular.
It is no longer possible to purchase a booklet of T+ Paris metro tickets (October 13/22).
Cost: 1.90€ ($2.90 Cdn) per ticket
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: You cannot use the same ticket on a metro and a bus on a single journey. 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 with 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.
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 passes) 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.
Read More | Riding a bike in Paris is another great way to get around the city. Here are some tips on renting a Velib.
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!
Of course, if you have purchased the Navigo Easy Pass or another card, just tap at the turnstile.
We have our tickets, and now onto the fun part!
Plan Your Route Using The Metro In Paris
To get to your destination study the Métro map, Google Maps or download an App. The app Next Stop Paris will help you figure out which pass to purchase according to your itinerary. It also has suggestions for travel routes and points of interest. The App Bonjour RATP allows you to load tickets on your Navigo Easy Card. I use Google Maps with great success for figuring out the best route to get from Point A to Point B.
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. Line 11, is an ancient line with doors like these. Read more as to why I love Line 11 on the Paris metro!
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 at 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 as it will indicate which exit to take.
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 during 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.
Read More | Where else are you travelling to in France? Normandy? Brittany? These posts might be helpful to you.
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. If you only have one day in Paris. Here is the ultimate itinerary.
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.
Don’t forget to stroll by the canal under chestnut trees by Canal Saint-Martin and eat at some great restaurants in Canal Saint-Martin.
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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Barbara Lisbon says
Does the metro have elevators or a handicap entrance? I have difficulty climbing stairs.
Alison Browne says
Hi Barbara, The Paris Metro is not known for being super equipped with elevators and handicap entrances. That being said, they are improving. This site ( https://www.ratp.fr/services/etat-equipement) allows you to put in the name of the stations you will be using to see if there is an escalator or elevator at one of the entrances/ exits. Paris is also very well serviced by its buses, so that would definitely be another option for you. Happy travels.
Linda Gerbec says
What a helpful article, Alison. I visited Paris twice and found the Metro user-friendly. However, when my daughter visited, she did not know that she needed to pay more to get to the airport, and she got a hefty fine. I hope to go back one day to photograph some of the underground station interiors. As you shared in this article, they can be beautiful and unique.
Alison Browne says
I know. Every time I pass through certain stations I remind myself to go back with my camera… still on the list of things to do!
Yes, the fines can be hefty and after being here now for over two years, I can’t believe how many times I have been asked to show my ticket at the exit.
Many thanks for this superb article about the Paris metro. The metro is indeed (and by far) the quickest way to get around in Paris.
Perhaps is in this context our online navigation system for the metro useful as well:
Alison Browne says
Thanks, it’s always great to have another choice for navigating the metro!
Fran Harris says
I have read on several FB groups that travelers have been fined 50 euros for NOT having a photo of themselves on their Metro ticket. Why is that and how do you affix a phhoto to your Metro ticket? I’ve used subway systems in many cities where I have lived or visited including NYC and Washington DC, but when I visited Paris recently, I didn’t use the Metro because I kept hearing these horror stories of fines regarding no photos.
Alison Browne says
Hi Fran! I had never heard of this before. If you buy individual tickets or purchase a card to load your tickets on called the Navigo Easy you will never be asked for a photo. I have been stopped many times and asked for my ticket but never for a photo. I asked the person behind the wicket at the station because I was curious how this could be a story circulating. If you have the pass called the Navigo Decouverte it is the owner’s responsibility to attach a photo. I say get a Navigo Easy the next time and ride with ease!