On a semester abroad in Paris, I often used the metro to get around the city if I wasn’t walking. "Le metro" is clean, fast, and very user friendly – even with my okay French, I was able to get around without much effort. You’re never far from a station no matter where you are in the 20 arrondissements!
So what does a first-time traveler to Paris need to know?
First off, plan your day ahead of time and know what stop you’re near and where you want to go. This way you will avoid confusion at the station and prevent getting on the wrong train. When looking at the metro map, you’ll see various color coated lines numbered from 1 to 14. (I lived off the Sevres Lecourbe stop on the 6 line). It’s very easy to transfer from one train to the next as long as you know what direction you’re headed to. You can pick up a free map at ticket offices at any station.
If you’re in Paris for a few days, buy a pack of 10 metro tickets. There’s always the option to sell back the ones you don’t use and it’s cheaper than buying them in smaller numbers or by day. If you’re in Paris for an extended time, you can purchase a Navigo smart pass by week or month (it’ll definitely save you money in the long run).
It may be worth your while to buy a Paris Visite Pass. This special ticket allows you to ride freely on the metro, RER, and buses and also gives you discounted entry to many popular Paris attractions including river tours and the Arc de Triomphe.
If you’re looking to get out of the city, the RER commuter train is a good bet but shouldn’t be confused with the metro. There are four RER lines - A, B, C, D, and E. If you want to visit Versailles, take the RER C to Versailles-Chateau.
Pro tip: Keep your ticket with you until you get off the train because you may be asked to show it if tickets are being inspected. If you cannot produce proof of payment for the ticket inspectors, you risk paying a fine.
Paris Metro Fast Facts:
Times: Trains run from 5:30 am to 12:40 am Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 to 1:40 on Fridays, Saturdays, and on days before a holiday.
Lines: 16 (numbered 1-14; lines 3 and 7 have secondary lines)
Prices: A standard single ticket costs 1.90 euro and a pack of 10 tickets costs 16 euro. Prices for weekly and monthly Navigo passes vary depending on the travel zones covered. Prices are current as of October 2017.