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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 , 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 takein 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: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.
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 €1,90 or discounted carnets of 10 tickets from vending machines in Métro and RER stations, using coins or a credit card.
You can also use tickets from your carnet on public buses or trams. However, you can't transfer between the Métro/RER and buses or trams (or vice versa).
Your ticket is valid for 90 minutes from the time it's stamped.
For details on the current generation of tickets and carnets, including transfer information, see the RATP's "T+ tickets" page.
Children under 4 travel free on the RER, and children from 4 through 9 years of age get a 50-percent discount on carnets of 10 tickets (but not on single rides).
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.
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.
Using a Paris-Visite pass is just like using a cardboard ticket: Insert the small plastic "coupon" or ticket that comes with your pass into the turnstile, retrieve it, and keep it with you. (Warning: If you use the pass on a bus, don't punch it in the validation machine; show it to the driver instead.)
Once you're inside the turnstiles, you can proceed to the platforms, where video monitors or electronic signboards have train information.
If you're going to the end of the line, be sure that you're on the right train, since many RER lines split into forks or secondary lines outside of the city center. To avoid confusion, check the RER map in the station before departure.
RATP, the public-transportation network of Paris, has a route finder, maps, and other information in half a dozen languages (including English).
This article from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, gives a short history of the Réseau Express Régional and briefly describes the five RER lines.
The Paris underground system has 14 lines, 380 stations, and 130 miles or 211 km of track. Our article describes how to buy tickets and ride the trains.
Charles de Gaulle Airport
Ground Transportation parisforvisitors.com
RER Line B connects CDG with central Paris. Our illustrated article tells how to take the train, or--if you prefer--how to reach the city by bus, shuttle, or taxi.
Our Orly article tells how to reach Paris via links to the RER and other transport modes.
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