Getting around Paris

Paris

Parisians themselves mostly combine transport by metro, walking or cycling. The same goes for visitors to the city. Simply walk from your accommodation to one of the catch points in the centre and continue on foot. It is advisable to divide the city into sections, for example the right and left banks of the Seine, and walk through that section each day.

Public transport in Paris is provided by RATP, which operates the metro, RER trains, Transilien trains, buses, trams and the Montmartre funicular.

  • Detailed information is available on the official website ratp.fr

Public transport tickets

You can buy tickets on almost every corner. They are sold in newsagents or, more often, in vending machines located in all metro, RER and Transilien stations, at tram stops and at some bus stops. You can pay with cards or coins and, in newer types, banknotes. Remember that tickets have a magnetic strip, so it is not advisable to place them in your wallet near credit cards.

The same tickets are valid for all modes of transport, i.e . metro, trains, buses, trams and the Montmartre cable car. Details of the different modes of transport can be found below or on the official Paris public transport website: www.ratp.fr/en.

The range of tickets is quite wide and buying them requires a bit of thought about how many times you will use public transport in Paris and where you will go. First, the zone system needs to be explained.

Public transport zones in Paris

Paris and its surroundings are divided into 5 zones, the higher the zone, the more you will pay for your ticket.

  • Zone 1 - the historic centre of Paris
  • Zone 2 - the immediate surroundings of Paris (e.g. Vincennes)
  • Zone 3 - the wider area around Paris (e.g. La Défense, Saint Denis)
  • Zone 4 - places further away from the city centre (e.g. Orly Airport, the Chateau de Versailles or Le Bourget Air Museum)
  • Zone 5 - places furthest from the centre (e.g. CDG airport, Chateau Fontainebleau or Disneyland Paris)
  • Map of public transport zones in Paris

Single and multi-day tickets

There are basically 4 variants of day or multi-day tickets, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, and you should always calculate in advance where you want to go and how often you want to travel around Paris.

Mobilis ticket

The cheapest and most convenient option is the Mobilis ticket, which is available from all RATP machines. On the ticket, you must write your name and the date you want to travel in pen. It is only valid on one calendar day, there is no multi-day option.

  • Zones 1-2: 8,45 eur
  • Zones 1-3: 11:30 eur

The ticket is suitable for a short visit to Paris, when you want to get the most out of the historic centre and take public transport more than 4 times.

Paris Visite Pass

The most commonly used single or multi-day passes are clearly the Paris Visite passes. In addition to unlimited travel on all types of Parisian public transport in a given zone, the Paris Visite pass also provides interesting discounts on admission to certain sights (for example, 25% off the Arc de Triomphe, Montparnasse Tower, Grévin Museum or discounted admission to Versailles).

Paris Visite is worth buying if you plan to use public transport as much as possible and don't like to walk long distances.

For zones 1-3

  • Day 1: 13,55 eur (children aged 4 to 11 6,75 eur) - not worthwhile compared to the Mobilis ticket above! The only advantage is discounts to "second category" museums
  • 2 days: 22,05 eur (children from 4 to 11 years 11 eur)
  • 3 days: 30,10 eur (children from 4 to 11 years 15,05 eur)
  • 5 days: 43,30 eur (children from 4 to 11 years 21,65 eur)

For zones 1-5

Only buy an extended ticket for Zones 1-5 if you make at least 3 trips to Zones 4 and 5 within the validity of the ticket. In practice, these tickets are only worthwhile for very few people, even if you use the airport/airport route (it is cheaper to buy a separate ticket and possibly buy a Paris Visite Pass for Zones 1-3.

  • Day 1: 28,50 eur (children aged 4 to 11 14,25 eur)
  • 2 days: 43,30 eur (children aged 4 to 11 21,65 eur)
  • 3 days: 60,70 eur (children aged 4 to 11 30,35 eur)
  • 5 days: 74,30 eur (children 4 to 11 years 33,15 eur)

Paris Visite tickets can be purchased from all machines at metro, train, tram and major bus stops. You must write your name and the dates on which you want to use the ticket in pen.

The ticket is always valid from 0:00 on the first day of validity until 24:00 on the last day. For example, if you buy a 3-day ticket at 20:00 on Monday, it is only valid until 24:00 on Wednesday, not 72 hours.

Navigo Pass

Although the Navigo Pass is primarily for locals, where full personal details are filled in, there is a "lightweight version" of the Navigo Découverte, which only requires a passport-size photo (bring your own from home) and filling in your name.

Navigo is sold in a full-day and weekly form, with the full-day being valid only on the calendar day and the weekly being valid from 0:00 Monday to 24:00 Sunday. The latest you can buy a Navigo for the current week is always Thursday and it will only be valid until Sunday. If you arrive on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, your card will not be valid until the following Monday. It's worth getting an all-day Navigo if you'll be travelling outside Zones 1-3, where most of the sights are located (for example, Versailles).

  • Valid for all zones 1-5 (including travel to/from both airports)
  • Valid for all modes of transport
  • Weekly price is 30 eur + 5 eur per card, total 35 eur

You can only buy Navigo at the counter, not at a machine. They are sold both at the ticket office of the transport company RATP and at the ticket offices of the French railways SNCF, including CDG and Orly airports. You must present a photo and ID when you buy.

The Navigo card is by far the best value time ticket if you want to travel on public transport in Paris and beyond to the max. The big advantage is the fact that it is valid for all zones, while the disadvantage is that if you arrive at the weekend, the card will only be valid from the following week.

Single tickets

Single tickets for public transport are referred to as t+ tickets and are valid for:

  • for the metro, buses, trams and the Montmartre cable car, regardless of zones,
  • for RER trains in zone 1 only.

The time validity of the ticket is not clear either. There is a different validity period for each mode of transport. You can transfer freely on a t+ ticket, but only between certain means of transport:

  • Valid for 120 minutes: metro or RER train, or transfer between metro/metro, metro/RER or RER/RER
  • Validity 90 minutes: bus or tram, or bus/bus, tram/tram or bus/tram
  • One ticket cannot be used to change from bus or tram to metro or RER train

Ticket prices for t+ tickets are as follows:

  • 2,10 eur one ticket bought from a ticket machine or newsagent
  • 2,50 eur one ticket bought from the bus driver (but this is not a transfer ticket!)
  • the discounted carnet of 10 tickets has been cancelled

If you go outside Zone 1 on RER trains, you must buy a regular train ticket from point A to point B at the station. If you go beyond zone 1 (or 3, which you normally get to by metro on ticket t+) once, it's definitely not worth dealing with any multi-day upgrade tickets for other zones (see below) and you'll be better off buying a single ticket.

For example, a single trip from Paris to Versailles costs 4,10 eur.

Where to buy tickets

The easiest way to buy tickets is from ticket machines, which are located at all metro, train and tram stations, as well as at the most important bus stops. You can pay by cash or card at the machines.

Alternatively, you can use the Bonjour RATP app, where you need to register and go through the whole installation process, including installing the associated Ticket Sans Contact app, which installs automatically and you don't need to open it at all. A significant drawback of the Bonjour app is that you cannot purchase the most advantageous Mobilis all-day pass for zones 1-3 through the app, only the less advantageous Navigo Pass.

Discount cards

Paris offers several discount cards and passes where you get public transport, admissions and various discounts included. First, however, consider how often you'll be using public transport and how much you want to visit, and choose the card or pass accordingly.

We discuss all types of tourist discount cards in detail in the chapter Tourist discount cards.

The Paris City Pass offers the best value for money, with free admission to 40 museums and galleries, dozens of monuments, discounts in shops, a cruise on the Seine and unlimited travel in Zones 1 to 3.

  • 2 days: 109,90 eur
  • 3 days: 129,90 eur
  • 5 days: 189,90 eur

Connection finders and apps

Find your route from a specific stop to your destination easily without complicated searches on maps and timetables. You can use several websites to search for connections.

Metro and RER

The metro, complemented by the faster RER trains, is the fastest and most frequently used mode. Many travellers never use a bus or tram during their stay, simply because the metro or train will get you absolutely everywhere. It's quick and quite easy.

As the metro is by far the most important means of transport in Paris, we have compiled detailed information into a separate chapter on the Metro in Paris.

Buses

Bus transport in Paris is often quite confusing. In fact, there are several bus operators.

RATP buses

The main one is the Parisian transport company RATP, which also operates the metro, trains and trams. Its buses are green and white and all public transport tickets are valid on them.

Buses are a lesser used means of transport. There are a total of 58 lines throughout the city and its surroundings. Although buses are not the main means of transport, be sure not to be afraid to use their network. The stops are clearly signposted and the intervals between services on a given line range from 8 to 15 minutes. The bus will always stop at a metro or RER station sooner or later and can serve well for getting closer when you get tired of walking.

Boarding is always by the front door only, at which you mark your ticket or show the driver if you have already marked a multi-day ticket. Often, however, the drivers do not want to see the ticket, but inspections by inspectors are quite frequent. You can also buy a single ticket from the driver, but always have the exact amount ready.

Other buses

On other carriers, regular public transport tickets and even tourist discount cards are not valid, you must always buy separate tickets.

You have the possibility to ride the very widespread tourist double-decker buses, which will take you through the most important places with their 4 lines. They are called Paris L'Opentour Bus(official website). A ticket for an adult for 1 day will cost €31 and €36 for 2 days, and for children €16 for 1 day and €19 for 2 days. They have the advantage of stopping at tourist sites, where information boards also operate, and you can get on and off the bus as you wish during the day.

Other bus companies mainly provide alternative transport to Paris airports. These are the buses, RoissyBus and OrlyBus. However, their advantages are highly debatable as they will get you to the centre more slowly for a higher price than the train.

Trams

Another less used means of transport are the trams that run around the centre of Paris and its suburbs. They have only 10 lines, designated T1-T10. There are currently 4 more new lines under construction, again outside the city centre. You have to mark your ticket when you enter the tram, and you can board through all doors. All tram stops are equipped with ticket machines.

If you need to get somewhere at night, taxis or other similar services are a good option as they are cheaper overnight than during the day. But consider your journey well, it is still not the cheapest means of transport.

On foot

As everywhere, walking is the best way to get around the city. The streets in Paris are relatively clean and wide, but they can be full of other pedestrians, especially in touristy places. As most sights and attractions are within walking distance of each other in the centre, there is no need to use public transport. The centre itself is flat, and you'll find hills in Montmartre or towards the Arc de Triomphe, so you won't break a sweat.

Bike

A very good alternative for getting around the city besides walking and public transport is a bike. A big advantage in this direction is the fact that Paris is (with the exception of the Montmartre district) a flat city and also very bike-friendly. Most of the sights and attractions are in the plain and the cycle path along the Seine River is very popular with locals. In total, there are several bike rental companies.

Vélib is one of the most popular due to its affordability. You can find bike stands all over the city, mostly at metro stations and tourist spots. You can buy a bike rental on the spot from a machine using a credit card or online on the Vélib website or mobile app(Google Play / Appstore).

There are 2 major bike-sharing apps in Paris, with stations scattered around the city:

Prices at Velib' are set as follows for those who are not subscribers:

  • 0-30 minute ride: 1 eur
  • 30-60 minute ride: + 1 eur extra
  • every additional 30 minutes of driving: + 1 eur extra

Montmartre cable car

A popular tourist attraction is the short funicular in the Montmartre district, which leads to the famous Sacré-Coeur Basilica. The cable car is only 108 metres long and overcomes a height difference of 36 metres in the process. Two cabs run on rails along the route.

The cable car operates daily from 6:00 am to 12:45 am and runs at roughly 5 to 10 minute intervals.

The fares are the same as on all other RATP vehicles, and all the ticket types described above apply.

Night transport

Paris invites romantic night walks, a long sit in a bar, or you simply need to be at the airport so early that the regular daytime services are not yet running.

Paris' night transport is catered for by the Noctilien network of bus lines with the letter 'N' and a number. Each line runs at roughly 20 to 30 minute intervals and the network is very dense in the centre.

The same tickets are valid on the night buses as on the daytime lines, except on the buses with a three-digit line number, where you have to mark two tickets t+ for the same journey (but multi-day tickets are equally valid here).

Taxi, Uber, Bolt, ...

Thousands of taxis ply the streets of Paris, but they should be the last choice in terms of transport. Traffic in the city centre is very dense, and in the vast majority of cases you'll get there faster and significantly cheaper by metro or RER train. The starting rate for a classic taxi is 2,75 eur, and you'll pay around 0,90 eur per kilometre during the day or 1,20 eur at night. If you are stuck in traffic, then an hourly rate (around 30 eur) may also apply.

Alternative taxi services Uber and Bolt also work well in Paris. Download their apps and hail a car anytime, anywhere:

Airport Shuttle

For detailed information on transport to Paris airports, see our special guides to airports around the world. Check out the cheapest and fastest connection options, how long it takes to get to the airport, and other handy information about the number of terminals and the distribution of airlines to each building.

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