Getting Around in Paris

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Getting around in Paris is easy and relatively inexpensive on the city’s extensive and efficient public transportnetwork of buses, trains, Metro and trams.

With public transport covering all corners of the city, there is really no need for expats to own a car in Paris. Indeed, driving in Paris can be an extremely hair-raising experience. 

Public transport in Paris

Transport in ParisMost of the transport network in Paris, including parts of the bus networks, Metro, trams and trains, is run by government-subsidised RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens). The rest of the RER and Tansilien are run by the state-owned SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français), whose rail network covers the whole of France. Using the different transport systems interchangeably is relatively easy as tickets are usually valid across all systems.


Public transport in Paris is divided into six zones, and prices vary depending on how many zones one travels across. Various packages are available, and which one an expat chooses will depend on length of stay in the city and frequency of travel on public transport.
For those staying in Paris long-term, the most cost-effective way of using public transport is to get a travel pass that allows unlimited travel on the Metro, RER and buses. These can be loaded on a weekly (Navigo Découverte) or monthly (Navigo Mensueal) basis, and can be recharged at Navigo machines at most Metro and RER stations. To buy a Navigo card, proof of address in Paris and a passport photo, which will be attached to the card, are needed
Tickets are sold at kiosks and automated machines in Metro and RER stations. They are more economical if you buy a package of 10 tickets (carnet de dix).Tickets have to be inserted at the turnstiles in the subway and RER stations, or shown to the driver on a bus. Children under the age of four travel free, and kids aged 4 to 11 years are charges half price.


The lauded Paris Metro (Metropolitan) is one of the most extensive is the world, consisting of 16 lines and around 300 stations across the city. Metro stations are marked with a big 'M' or 'Metro' sign. Exits from stations are indicated by the white-on-blue sortie (exit) signs.  
Metro lines are identified on maps by number and colour, with the direction of travel indicated by the name of the destination terminus. Parisians usually refer to the line number. The Metro runs from 5.30am to 12.40am from Sunday to Thursday and to 2.30am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Metro cars aren't air conditioned, so in the hot summer months they're extremely hot, especially during rush hour when they’re jam-packed with commuters. Metro lines 1, 4 and 13 are normally the most congested during this time.


The RER (Réseau Express Régional/Regional Express Network) is a network of regional trains that run through the heart of Paris into the suburbs of the city and the wider Ile-de-France region. The RER has five lines in Paris, labelled from A to E. Different branches of these lines are labelled by number.
The RER trains are faster than the Metro, but this is mostly because there are fewer stops along the way. This system runs daily from 5.30am to 1am, and links up and shares stations with the Metro in places.
In addition to the RER system, there are many suburban train lines (Transilien) departing from the main train stations.


Paris has a well-developed bus network, interconnecting all suburban areas. Bus routes are numbered, with buses running from 6.30am to 9.30pm; some lines also run till midnight. Although buses cover a wider area than the Metro, they have to contend with traffic, and can therefore take expats considerably longer to reach their intended destination.
Night buses, known as Noctilien, usually operate hourly between 12.30am and 5.30am and every 30 minutes over weekends. Most of the lines leave from Place du Châtelet and serve the main Metro and RER stations as well as major streets.


The tram network in Paris has undergone development in recent years, but it's still not as extensive as it was in the early 20th century. The city currently has seven tram lines, some of which travel far into the suburbs. 


Taxis in Paris are comparatively cheap and easy to hail on the street. They are visible by the sign on the roof of the car, which is lit up if they are vacant. There are also numerous taxi stations throughout the city and they can be booked ahead of time over the phone, but expats should be aware that the meter may start running from the moment the taxi driver heads to the pick up point.

Cycling in Paris

Paris has become a cyclist-friendly city, and cyclists are generally respected on the road. The city’s Vélib bicycle hire scheme has made over 20,000 bicycles available at hire points across the city. A bicycle can be picked up at one point in the city and returned to another. Bicycles can be hired for a day or a week, allowing for an unlimited number of journeys during that time.

Driving in Paris

Driving in Paris can be a scary experience. Traffic is often congested and finding parking can be frustrating and expensive, especially in the popular tourist areas. Most Parisians don’t own cars, rather opting for the city’s extensive public transport network. Expats driving in Paris who want to park on the streets will need a Paris Carte (prepaid card), as parking meters don’t take coins.

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