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Paris Trams

Few visitors realize that Paris has four modern tramway lines, including one that offers a convenient way to travel from east to west--or vice versa--on the southern edge of the city.

Paris tram at City Universitaire stop

ABOVE: A tram arrives at the City International University of Paris, just south of the delightful Parc Montsouris.

Trams may be the Paris region's best-kept transportation secret, at least for visitors from abroad.

Paris and its environs now have four modern tram lines--including one in the city itself, the T3 line, which runs along the southern edge of Paris from the Pont du Garigliano (on the Seine in the 15th arrondissement) to the Porte d'Ivry Métro station (at the eastern edge of the 13th, a few blocks from the suburb of Ivry-sur-Seine).

The €310 million tramway opened in December, 2006, bringing streetcars back to Paris for the first time in nearly 70 years.

As a tourist, you probably won't use the trams frequently (if at all), but the T3 line might be useful when you're in the southern part of the city and need to get from east to west or vice versa. And the trams are worth seeing if you're interested in public transit or urban design.

In the large photo above, you'll witness a distinguishing feature of the T3 line: a right-of-way that looks more like a strip of parkland than a transit route.

The grassy strip with tracks is typical of Europe's newest tramways and LRT (Light Rail Transit) lines, such as those in Bordeaux and Porto, where groundskeepers often work alongside track-maintenance crews in outlying neighborhoods and suburbs.

Riding the trams

Tram on Paris city streetParis trams run from early morning until late evening. During the day, intervals between trams are normally 5 to 7 minutes.

Buy tickets from automated machines on the platforms, or use any of the RATP tickets and passes that are valid on the Paris Métro and public buses.

Important: Stamp your ticket or scan your electronic pass when boarding the tram. (If an inspector catches you without a validated ticket, you'll pay a hefty fine.)

Notes:

  • You can connect free between RATP city buses and trams on every line except the T4 line, which is run by SNCF (the French national railways).
  • The state-of-the-art trams are designed for easy access by mobility-impaired passengers, including travelers in wheelchairs.

  • The handy new Navigo Easy stored-value fare card will soon replace T+ tickets, but you can buy and use it right now. (With Navigo Easy, you can buy carnets of 10 electronic tickets at a substantial discount from normal fares.)

Paris Tramway Web links

Paris Tramways Ligne 3

ABOVE: A platform on Ligne 3, which runs mostly along the southern edge of the city between Ponte de Boulevard Victor RER station in the 15th arrondissement  and the Porte d'Ivry Métro station in the 13th.

Wikipedia: Tramways in Île-de-France
The online encyclopedia's article is a good introduction to the system for railfans, and you can click on the line descriptions for lists of stations and connections to other Paris transportation services.

YouTube: Paris Tramway
Watch videos of trams in Paris, including an over-the-shoulder view of a motorman at work.

Railfaneurope.net Picture Gallery: Paris Tramways
Click on the subdirectory links for exterior and interior photos with comments.


Métro, RER, bus, boat, and airport information:
Paris Transportation Index


Inset photo copyright © Michele Lugaresi.