With endless sights to see on a limited schedule, it is important to get the most out of your time in Paris. From the metro to double decker tour buses here are some tips to keep in mind when moving around the city and some of the key stops you’ll want to add to your to-do list.
Using the Paris Métro system is probably the easiest, cheapest, and most convenient way to get around the city. You can take the Métro to nearly all the big sights and into every neighborhood. You’ll find the gorgeous, curling iron art nouveau entrances all over the city, just take the stairs down and buy your tickets at the machines or at the ticket booth.
If you are going to be in the city for a few days and plan to use the metro a lot, buy a Paris Visite (Pass Transport) pass. The passes are available for 1, 3, or 5 days and include zones 1-3, or 1-5. You’ll only need zones 1-3, so a pass will cost you from €10.55 for one day to €57.75 for 5 days. You’ll have one ticket to reuse for the duration of your ticket, so be careful not to lose it or bend it. Your ticket is also good for using the city buses, Montmartre Funiculaire and the RER trains.
If your travelling in autumn, spring, or fall rather than a day pass, I suggest buying a ten pack of tickets to give you some flexibility to see the city on foot, by boat, or even by bike. A ten pack (Carnet 10 Tickets) costs €13.30 and gives you ten separate tickets (one ticket per ride) that won’t expire.
Although it is convenient and cheap, the métro can also be a very unpleasant place. Most stations don’t smell that great, and it can be a wake up call to see that they are not always very clean either. Like in all big cities be you must mindful of your things and be aware of the space in the wagon. Especially at busy métro stations hold your bag and wallet tight, lots of pickpockets use the push and shove of the crowded train as a chance to get into your bag. Also, don’t be that guy who takes up more space than needed sitting in the fold down seats during rush hour, remember that most of the métro riders are on their commute and respect their comfort as well. Finally if you’re riding the métro late at night and you feel uncomfortable change wagons and find a wagon with more people. With that being said, most people have fine experiences on the métro, just be smart and be on your guard!
Making your way around the métro can be confusing, expect to get on a wrong train at least once! Take some time to look over the map and plan out your stops. I’ve found that a few key tourist spots can be a bit confusing on the metro map, so to make your life easier here’s a quick guide to a few key stops to some of the top sights (be extra careful at all these touristy stops!):
Trocadero: That jaw dropping moment of turning a corner and seeing the Eiffel Tower in the distance happens here. Beautiful photos but lots of tourists and craziness going on, especially at night to see the tower sparkle. You’ll have to walk across the river to get to the tower, but it is worth the beautiful view.
Charles de Gaulle: This stop will take you to the end of the Champs Elysées, just in front of the Arc de Triomph. Don’t try to cross the enormous roundabout, look for the underground tunnel that will take you to street level and the ticket window.
Notre Dame or Cite: Either stop will take you the heart of Paris, Ile de la Cite where the city was born, and where you’ll find the Notre Dame and the hidden gem the Saint Chappelle.
Hotel de Ville: Get off here to see the stunning Town Hall that the stop is named for. A central area, cross the river to reach Notre Dame, head north and see the Pompidou Center, or go west for shopping, the Louvre and finally the Champs Elysées.
Opera: A gorgeous stop just outside of the Opera Garnier. The stop for shopping. Mega shops Galleries Lafayette and Printemps are just around the corner, and Pierre Hermé is a few steps south!
Pigalle: Welcome to Montmartre. Although not quite on the mont, Pigalle will take you right to the Moulin Rouge, Sacre Coeur, and my favorite place for an affordable happy hour. Stop for a hip drink La Fourmi, just next to Pigalle, then make your way up the hill for a few more!
Questions? Other helpful tips? Leave a comment!
Getting around Paris without the metro coming up next week!