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The Paris Métro

The Paris Métro

The Paris Métro

The first time I went to Paris, I had never taken public transportation before. And although I wondered if I should take a taxi from the airport, I braved the métro instead! You can read about that experience in my book...

The Paris métro is a great way to get around the city. It is fast, reliable, easy to figure out, everyone is friendly (kidding), and smells like roses (really kidding). Seriously, I love the métro. Paris wouldn't be Paris without it.

Below I've listed a few helpful tips for your métro experience!

Before you go: Download a copy of the map like the one on the right to your phone or print out a copy to have with you for when you arrive.

From the Airport

From the Airport

The subway that will take you from the CDG airport into Paris is called the RER, and connects you with the Paris métro. It will be much cheaper than taking a taxi. There are two reason you might want to consider a taxi, however:

  1. You are in a group and by splitting the cost it might be a better way to go.

  2. You have lots of luggage or very heavy bags. Don't expect escalators in most of the métro.

You have to buy your ticket before getting on the RER. Here are the directions on how to do it:

  1. Follow signs for RER/ Paris by Train. Depending on where your plane flies in, you may walk quite a bit to find it, and likely take the tram.

  2. When you find the entrance, there are automated machines to buy the ticket into Paris. These train ticket machines will be labeled BILLETS, TICKETS, BILLETES Paris Ile-de-France Train, RER, Tramway, Metro, Bus. 

  3. When you get to the machine, it will have the option to be in English. You want a ticket into Paris. You don't have to specify the station, just make sure the ticket is for the center of Paris.

  4. In case you see this: aller means one-way and aller/retour means round-trip. I suggest just to buy the one-way because you may end up losing the other ticket.

  5. Once you buy your ticket, you pass it through the machine and go right down the escalator to where the train comes in. Make sure on the screen, which will list the stops for the next train, that Châtelet-Les Halles is listed. This is where most of you will get off, as it links to many other lines. However, there could be an exception, depending on where your lodging is located, so it is best to ask the owner of the apartment you rented, or the hotel you booked.

  6. When you arrive at Châtelet-Les Halles, there will be lots of people! This is the busiest métro hub, and they say a true Parisian avoids it at all costs! From here you will have to find the métro line where you lodging is located.

IMPORTANT: Keep your ticket with you at all times, until you completely exit and are on the street.  This goes for every time you use the métro or RER. Sometimes you may need it to exit. Also, there are agents who might stop you to make sure you paid for the ride, and if you lost or threw away your ticket, they will fine you around 50 euros!

Métro Tips

How it works


All of the different lines are designated with their own color and number, going from 1-14. Line 1 is very popular with tourists, as it takes you to the Louvre, Champs-Élysées, Hôtel de Ville, the charming Marais, and the Tuileries garden near the Louvre. ​Below is an example of what the map looks like and the stops along this line.

As you can see from the picture, the line has two ends: Château de Vincennes and La Défense. This is how you know what direction to go in. If you are at Bastille, and you want to get to George V, you would take Line 1 in the direction of La Défense. It's as simple as that. All the other colored circles in the picture below the certain stops show you which lines cross at those stops. For example, the métro stop Concorde is not only Line 1, but also 8 and 12.


  • The métro is relatively safe, but as in any public setting, it is best to be aware. 

  • Carry your purse with you in the front of you and always leave zippers closed. This goes for anywhere in Paris.

  • The door to the métro close very fast and people do get caught inside. Once you hear the warning bell, if you are not already on, wait for the next one.​

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