How to use RER rapid-transit trains, which link to the Paris Métro and serve both the city and its suburbs.
Most visitors to Paris are aware of the Métro, a rapid-transit system that opened in 1900. Fewer know that the RER, a commuter rail network more formally known as the the Réseau Express Régional, also offers rapid transit within Paris--along with frequent service to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Versailles, Disneyland Paris, and other suburban destinations.
Since its beginnings in 1961, the RER has grown into a network of five major lines that radiate in all directions from the city center. RER trains stop at SNCF railway stations and have connections or correspondances with important Métro transfer points.
For example, you can take RER Line B in from Charles de Gaulle Airport and change to the Métro at Chatelet-Les Halles (Right Bank) or Saint-Michel (Left Bank) to reach your hotel.
The RER can also be handy for tourist travel within the city: RER Line C follows the Left Bank of the Seine for most of its length, with stops at Saint-Michel (Latin Quarter and Notre Dame), the Musée d'Orsay, Invalides, and Pont de l'Alma (Eiffel Tower) that are just a few minutes apart.
RER tickets and trains
Buying tickets within Paris
Single-trip "T+" Métro and RER tickets are interchangeable within the city of Paris (more specifically, in zones 1 and 2 of the Métro/RER network). You can buy individual tickets for €2,10 from vending machines in Métro and RER stations, using coins or a credit card. You can also add an electronic carnet of 10 discounted rides to an electronic pass such as Navigo Easy. For details, see our article on fares and tickets.
You can also use Métro/RER tickets on public buses or trams. However, you can't transfer between the Métro/RER and buses or trams (or vice versa).
RER travel to (or from) the suburbs
For travel beyond the city limits, you'll need a point-to-point ticket. The fare depends on how far you're traveling. Check the zone map in the RER station or indicate your destination to the counter clerk when buying your ticket.
Better yet, use the RER's automated vending machines. The newer machines are easy to use; just pick your language and follow the instructions.
Paris-Visite and other RATP travel passes are valid on the RER, though you'll need to pay a supplement if you're traveling beyond the zones indicated on your pass. For more information on travel passes, see our Paris Métro Tickets page.
Riding RER trains
After you've bought your ticket, go to the entrance gates or turnstiles. Insert your ticket into the slot with the magnetic side down. After you've gone through the turnstile, retrieve your ticket (which will be ejected by a slot on top of the divider).
Keep the ticket with you, since you'll need it to exit through the turnstiles at your destination.
Once you've gone through the turnstile or entrance gate, you can proceed to the platforms. Look for up-to-date train information on video monitors or electronic signboards.
Paris RER Web links and related articles
Charles de Gaulle Airport
Ground Transportation parisforvisitors.com
Orly Airport Ground Transportation
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