Paris: Transportation Options

Getting Around & Transportation

In Paris there are a few modes of transportation, here’s a small list:

  • RER Train
  • Metro (Subway)
  • Bus
  • L’Open Tour

Paris itself is broken into six zones of transportation:

Paris Transportation Zones

Looking at the map at first it can seem rather complicated.  But, really it’s not at all.  When visiting Paris as a tourist, you only have to really worry about zone 1 and 2.  All the museums and areas you’ll want to visit are in those 2 zones, save for Château de Versailles, but I’ll explain that later.  Here’s a map of metro.  The metro itself is only in zone 1 and 2.

Paris Metro Map

Now that you have an idea of the transportation system in Paris I’ll explain some of the options that have probably the best value for your wallet and time.

Option 1 – Navigo Découverte

Navigo Découverte This card will entitle you to unlimited travel with the metro, bus, trams, and even the RER trains.  Like I said above, you only need it for zone 1 and 2.  It costs 18€ for a weeks worth of unlimited travel and an additional 5€ for the card.  The card itself can be purchased at any metro station.  Just ask for a billet de semaine pour Paris. On the card there’s a place to put your photo.  You can find a photo  booth at almost all metro stations and costs about 4€.  But, honestly they never even check for your photo.  Getting on a bus you simply swipe it and it beeps and okay sound.  And the metro, no one is even looking.  So save yourself the 4€.

This is by far my favourite option if you really want to get around Paris and do more in a day.  But, this only works if you meet certain conditions.  First off, this card starts on Monday, so if you’re arriving on Sunday, you can buy the pass and start travelling all over Paris for a week starting Monday until the next Sunday.  The latest day you can buy the pass is Wednesday.  Granted I easily made it worth it within a few days.  Individual tickets are 1,70€ or 10 for 12€, in a normal day most people see about 2 to 3 sites.  You can easily go through about 4 to 5 tickets in a day.

Bottom line is, if you think you can make the pass worth it, go for it. Granted you have to plan out what sites you want to see but it isn’t too hard if you visit an information booth.  Another good way to find out where you want to go is to get a “Paris Museum Pass”; I’ll explain this in another post.  Anyway, if it doesn’t work out for you there are other options.

Another tip using the Navigo, always try to take the metro or bus to wherever you’re going.  Don’t bother taking the RER.  RER within the city is much slower and not as frequent as the metro or bus.  RER is only really useful when going outside of Paris.

Option 2 – L’Open Tour

Personally I didn’t do this during my stay, as it was much more expensive.  But, I can see why this option could be good for some people.  If you really HATE planning and you’re short on time in Paris but you still want to see all the sties in Paris, L’Open Tour can help you with this.

This bus is basically a private bus line that goes all around Paris.  It costs 32€ for the 2 day pass, the one day isn’t worth it at all costing 29€.  All over Paris there are specific L’Open Tour bus stops.  They’re easy to recognize and they’ll give you a map after you purchase the ticket.  All you have to do is wait at the first stop, get on and show your ticket, then get off at the next stop.  The next stop will be another major site in Paris.  When you’re done, you simply wait for the next bus, hop on and off to the next site.  There are about 50 stops, so you might not get to all of them in 2 days but you’ll definitely hit a lot of places in one day.

This option is more expensive then the Navigo option but its definitely a time saver and brain saver.

Sites Outside of Zone 1-2

There actually aren’t too many sites you’ll visit outside of zones 1 and 2.  The most popular one that is outside is Château de Versailles.  Your Navigo pass for zones 1 and 2 won’t get you there.  Just buy an extra ticket for 1,70€ to get there and take the RER all the way there.  When coming back however, you will need to buy a ticket that takes you back in to Paris at the RER station.  This ticket is different then the ones you buy inside of Paris.  These ones cost 3,05€.  There will be automatic ticket booths that sell them.  There’s always a long line up so you can’t miss it really.

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