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Paris Métro (2021)

How to use the RATP's Métropolitain de Paris, from buying tickets to riding trains.

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ABOVE: A Métro rider eyes an arriving train. INSET: Art Nouveau entrance to the Abbesses station in Montmartre.



Walking is the most scenic way to explore Paris. But for longer journeys, the Métropolitain de Paris is the preferred mode of transportation.

With 14 lines, 380 stations, and more than 211 km or 131 miles of track, the Paris underground is Europe's second-largest subway system--and that's without including the RER, a commuter-rail network that is integrated with the Métro.

photoAlthough the Paris Métro is one of the oldest subways in the world (it opened in 1900), it compares favorably with newer counterparts in other cities. Cars are modern and clean, there's little waiting time between trains, crime is minimal except for pickpockets, and you won't find a quicker way to get around Paris.


Tickets and fares:

Navigo Easy at Paris Metro turnstile

ABOVE: Navigo Easy beats cardboard T+ tickets hands down.

The basic single-journey price is €1,90, and you can buy a carnet of 10 tickets (paper or electronic) at a discount. For more details, see:

If you plan to ride the Métro regularly, consider buying a rechargeable  card:

Note: T+ tickets will be phased out by 2021, with electronic tickets and passes replacing them.


How to ride the trains:

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ABOVE: A station of the automated Meteor Line, with glass screens between the platforms and the driverless trains. INSET BELOW: Turnstiles vary in appearance, but most have a slot on the front for T+ cardboard tickets and a purple area on top for swiping plastic cards such as Navigo Easy. (In some stations, you may see a few turnstiles without T+ ticket slots.)

After you've bought your ticket, carnet, or pass, you're ready to enter the Métro via the turnstiles. Here's what to do:

  • Paris Metro turnstileStep up to the turnstile and insert your cardboard T+ ticket into the slot with the magnetic side down.

  • Continue through the turnstile, taking your ticket as it emerges from the slot on top of the machine. Keep the ticket with you. You'll need it if an inspector asks to see your ticket, and you may also need it to change Métro lines, to transfer from the Métro to the RER, or (less commonly) to exit via the turnstiles at your destination.

  • If you're using a plastic card such as Navigo Easy, swipe it against the purple card reader to open the turnstile gate.

  • Once you're past the turnstiles, follow the signs to the platform for the direction in which you want to travel. Stations have large wall maps of the Métro network, and free maps are available from ticket windows in Métro stations.

  • On the platform, you'll see monitors that tell when the next train will arrive. Normally you won't have to wait more than a few minutes.

  • If the doors of the arriving train don't open, flip the metal door lever (on older trains) or press the door button (on newer trains). Let passengers get off before you board the train.

  • When a train is crowded, it's good form to avoid using the jumpseats near the doors and the seats that are reserved for disabled war veterans, the handicapped, and the elderly. (Parisians don't always follow the rules, but you aren't a local yokel.)

  • After reaching your destination, follow the Sortie sign to the exit. At some stations, you'll need your ticket or pass to exit through the turnstiles.

More tips:

  • Tickets sometimes don't work in the turnstiles. If your ticket doesn't work, try another turnstile--and if you're still out of luck, go to the information window in the station.

  • Keep old tickets separate from new tickets and the ticket that you're currently using, or you'll find yourself playing ticket roulette at the entrance and exit turnstiles.

  • When transferring between Métro lines, or between the Métro and the RER, you'll sometimes need to exit through one set of turnstiles and re-enter through another with your existing ticket.

  • If you're transferring to the RER for a trip to the suburbs (e.g., to Versailles on RER Line C or to Charles de Gaulle Airport on RER Line B), you'll need to pay more than the basic Métro fare. Look for menu options on the ticket machines, which have choices and instructions in several languages (including English).


Paris Metro links:

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ABOVE: Two trains frame a Rodin replica in the Varennes Métro station. INSET: Tile sign on a station wall.

photoPractical advice

RATP
RATP, the public-transportation network of Paris, has a route finder, maps, timetables, and other information.

History, commentary, and photos

Métro Insolit
If you're a railfan who reads French, Clive Lamming's beautifully illustrated book about the Paris Métro deserves a place in your collection.

Railfaneurope.net Picture Gallery: Paris Métro
Click the subdirectory links to view thumbnails and full-size images.

Amtuir
The Musée des Transports Urbains, Interurbains, et Ruraux has a collection of 170 historic vehicles (some dating back to 1863) that are in storage while the museum waits for a new site and funding.

That Time the Paris Metro Was Segregated by a Class System
Until 1991, high rollers could avoid the sweaty hoi polloi by traveling in a first-class car.

Next page: Paris Métro Fares and Tickets


In this article:
Paris Métro
Fares and tickets

Also see:
Navigo Easy fare card
Paris transportation index