ABOVE: A Métro
rider eyes an arriving train. INSET: Art Nouveau
entrance to the Abbesses station in Montmartre.
is the most scenic way to explore Paris. But for longer journeys, the Métropolitain
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
commuter-rail network that is integrated with the Métro.
Although 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:
ABOVE: Navigo Easy beats cardboard T+ tickets
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
Note: T+ tickets will be
phased out by 2021, with electronic tickets and passes replacing them.
How to ride the trains:
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
Step 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
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.
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.
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
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:
ABOVE: Two trains
Rodin replica in the Varennes Métro station. INSET: Tile sign on a station wall.
RATP, the public-transportation network of Paris, has a
timetables, and other information.
History, commentary, and photos
If you're a railfan who reads French, Clive Lamming's beautifully illustrated
book about the Paris Métro deserves a place in your collection.
Picture Gallery: Paris Métro
Click the subdirectory links to view thumbnails and full-size images.
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
1991, high rollers could avoid the sweaty hoi polloi by traveling in a
Paris Métro Fares and