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Paris has a comprehensive, efficient and relatively inexpensive transportation network and you should have few problems getting around the city. The Metro (underground/subway) is the backbone of the network. Other useful options include, buses, taxis, riverboats and the suburban RER trains. Finally, don't forget your own two feet - Paris city centre is compact and walking is a great way to get your bearings.
The Metro is often the quickest way of getting around, and with approximately 300 stations you're rarely more than five minutes' walk from a line. Trains vary from ultramodern to past-their-best, depending on the line. But services usually run with minimum delays (barring strike action). Once inside the station, be prepared for long walks to reach the platform - especially at Chatelet - although you wont need to go deep underground. Buses give you the chance to see the city as you travel and their routes are clearly marked at the stops and on the bus. But they are slower than the Metro and can become just as crowded in rush hour.
- Getting a taxi maybe useful if you have lots of baggage or if you dont want to use the Metro at night.
- Try to avoid using buses and the Metro during rush hour (roughly 7.30-9.30am and 4.30-7pm).
Read more on this destination in the AA Spiral Guide to Paris.
Ways to get around in Paris
Metro: The Metro and Buses use the same tickets and travel cards. These can also be used on the RER trains within central Paris. The city is divided into fare zones. Most of the key sights are in Zone 1, although the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport is in Zone 5 and Orly Airport is in Zone 4. A single ticket costs €1.50 and covers all Metro stations, RER stations (within the heart of Paris) and most buses. Buying a carnet of 10 tickets is better value than buying tickets seperately for each bus or Metro journey, and also saves waiting at the ticket office. It is better deal if you are planning eight journeys or more.
Buses: Most buses are painted easy-to-see turquoise and run from 7am to 8.30pm, although some continue until around 12.30am. The route number is displayed on the front of the bus, along with the final destination. Hold your hand out to stop the bus. If you need to buy a ticket on board, have the exact money ready as drivers do not carry much change. You can buy only single tickets on board and they must be stamped in the machine next to the driver. You can buy various tickets/travelcards at Metro stations, on buses (single tickets only) and at some news stands.
RER trains: The RER (Reseau Express Regional) dates from 1969 and is operated by RATP and SNCF. It serves Disneyland Paris to the east, Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport to the North, Versailles to the West and the Orly Airport train link to the south. Trains run underground in central Paris and overground in the suburbs and operate from around 5.30am to 12.30am. A single Metro ticket is valid for RER journeys in central Paris and you can change lines (including Metro lines) on the same ticket. For journeys further afield, you'll need to buy a seperate ticket valid for the particular destination. Travelcards must cover all the zones you travel through.
Taxis: The best way to find a taxi is to head to one of the city's 470 taxi stands, marked by a blue Taxis sign. You can phone for a taxi but this is more expensive as the meter starts running as soon as the taxi sets off to collect you. You can hail a taxi in the street, if you can find one that is free. A white light on the roof indicates that the taxi is available. When the light is off, the taxi is busy. Prices are regulated and tariffs should be displayed in each taxi. Daytime trips within central Paris should cost under €15.
Batobus: The Batobus is a relaxing way to get around, allowing you to hop on and off at eight stops along the River Seine. It runs from early February to the end of November. Boats leave every 15-30 minutes stopping at the quais near the main sightseeing points. A one-day pass costs €12. You can buy passes at the stops or the tourist office.