Paris: Transportation Options

Getting Around & Transportation

In Paris there are a few modes of transportation, here’s a small list:

  • RER Train
  • Metro (Subway)
  • Bus
  • L’Open Tour

Paris itself is broken into six zones of transportation:

Paris Transportation Zones

Looking at the map at first it can seem rather complicated.  But, really it’s not at all.  When visiting Paris as a tourist, you only have to really worry about zone 1 and 2.  All the museums and areas you’ll want to visit are in those 2 zones, save for Château de Versailles, but I’ll explain that later.  Here’s a map of metro.  The metro itself is only in zone 1 and 2.

Paris Metro Map

Now that you have an idea of the transportation system in Paris I’ll explain some of the options that have probably the best value for your wallet and time.

Option 1 – Navigo Découverte

Navigo Découverte This card will entitle you to unlimited travel with the metro, bus, trams, and even the RER trains.  Like I said above, you only need it for zone 1 and 2.  It costs 18€ for a weeks worth of unlimited travel and an additional 5€ for the card.  The card itself can be purchased at any metro station.  Just ask for a billet de semaine pour Paris. On the card there’s a place to put your photo.  You can find a photo  booth at almost all metro stations and costs about 4€.  But, honestly they never even check for your photo.  Getting on a bus you simply swipe it and it beeps and okay sound.  And the metro, no one is even looking.  So save yourself the 4€.

This is by far my favourite option if you really want to get around Paris and do more in a day.  But, this only works if you meet certain conditions.  First off, this card starts on Monday, so if you’re arriving on Sunday, you can buy the pass and start travelling all over Paris for a week starting Monday until the next Sunday.  The latest day you can buy the pass is Wednesday.  Granted I easily made it worth it within a few days.  Individual tickets are 1,70€ or 10 for 12€, in a normal day most people see about 2 to 3 sites.  You can easily go through about 4 to 5 tickets in a day.

Bottom line is, if you think you can make the pass worth it, go for it. Granted you have to plan out what sites you want to see but it isn’t too hard if you visit an information booth.  Another good way to find out where you want to go is to get a “Paris Museum Pass”; I’ll explain this in another post.  Anyway, if it doesn’t work out for you there are other options.

Another tip using the Navigo, always try to take the metro or bus to wherever you’re going.  Don’t bother taking the RER.  RER within the city is much slower and not as frequent as the metro or bus.  RER is only really useful when going outside of Paris.

Option 2 – L’Open Tour

Personally I didn’t do this during my stay, as it was much more expensive.  But, I can see why this option could be good for some people.  If you really HATE planning and you’re short on time in Paris but you still want to see all the sties in Paris, L’Open Tour can help you with this.

This bus is basically a private bus line that goes all around Paris.  It costs 32€ for the 2 day pass, the one day isn’t worth it at all costing 29€.  All over Paris there are specific L’Open Tour bus stops.  They’re easy to recognize and they’ll give you a map after you purchase the ticket.  All you have to do is wait at the first stop, get on and show your ticket, then get off at the next stop.  The next stop will be another major site in Paris.  When you’re done, you simply wait for the next bus, hop on and off to the next site.  There are about 50 stops, so you might not get to all of them in 2 days but you’ll definitely hit a lot of places in one day.

This option is more expensive then the Navigo option but its definitely a time saver and brain saver.

Sites Outside of Zone 1-2

There actually aren’t too many sites you’ll visit outside of zones 1 and 2.  The most popular one that is outside is Château de Versailles.  Your Navigo pass for zones 1 and 2 won’t get you there.  Just buy an extra ticket for 1,70€ to get there and take the RER all the way there.  When coming back however, you will need to buy a ticket that takes you back in to Paris at the RER station.  This ticket is different then the ones you buy inside of Paris.  These ones cost 3,05€.  There will be automatic ticket booths that sell them.  There’s always a long line up so you can’t miss it really.

Day 3: Paris, Explore Rue de Rivoli

Today was the first day I walked into the city centre. It’s still Sunday so I had to make my way there with regular tickets. I did buy my Navigo Week Card. It’s basically the same as a Metro Pass, unlimited travel for a set amount of time. The weather today was pretty miserable. Overcast all day long, so the photos didn’t really come out the way I wanted, but they’ll have to do.

Walking towards my bus I saw the funniest thing.  I saw a father smoking weed in front of his, probably, 3 year old.  Let’s not forget, smoking weed in France is a pretty serious crime.  Not like its neighbours.  I actually read an article in Le Monde, a French newspaper, that was talking about how the government takes it too seriously.  Then on the bus I saw this lady who dressed her son in a suit matching her blazer and dress.  I wish I could’ve taken a photo of this but it’d be too weird.

SWAT Gear

My original plan was to go to Le Louvre but for some reason my bus 76, decided to change its last stop to Bastille mid way through the ride; close to Rue de Rivoli. So, that was a ticket wasted.  But, whatever, I decided to walk around the area.  The area is actually one of the tourist areas.  There’s even signs that say, “End of Tourist Zone”.  I thought to myself, “Heck, I can walk to Le Louvre from here.” I tried, but then got distracted by like every building in the area.  Then there was this area that was filled with police in full SWAT gear.  They were guarding some protest that was going on.

After wandering for a while I decided to grab a bite to eat.Crèpe Avec Poulet & Fromage I was so tempted to eat McDonalds lol They have this McWrap, that has chicken and bacon, and they’re huge! Not like the tiny ones in Toronto.  But, I ended up eating at this, I think, Egyptian restaurant.  They made this thing that looks like a crèpe but inside it has chicken, cheese, and egg.Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Tasted pretty amazing.  They even give you different dips, so every bite is a bit different.  It’s pretty similar to a quesadilla.  Oh, for a drink, of course I got Starbucks! But, so bad.  The Starbucks ran out of the white plastic tops, so they gave me a frap top instead.

After eating I decided to get some cash from HSBC.  But, crap! It won’t let me withdraw that much cash.  The most I could get was 60€. Something is definitely wrong.  I was told $400 CAD was the max.  I’ll have to go into a branch tomorrow morning and see if I can get some extra cash.  Definitely can’t be walking around with only 60€ in my pocket.  I’d be screwed.

WC Sign Public WCThere was the one other cool thing I wanted to mention! Look for WC signs while in Paris. Of course, most of you know WC stands for “Water Closet” aka the washroom.  I swear, their public outhouses here are so cool. It’s like going into a Star Trek elevator!  If I find it again, maybe I’ll film a bit.  Actually when I took the photo of it, there was this family filming it, and people were giving them looks.

Here are some other photos I took today.  Mostly photos of buildings I thought were pretty interesting.

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