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The Paris Metro service is for most visitors and locals the transport mode of choice when travelling within the centre of Paris.
There is a spider's web of lines, so in the centre of Paris you are always only a few minutes' walk from a Metro station.
The Paris Metro is run by RATP, (Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) who also run the Paris buses and RER suburban train system. As a result the transport network is highly integrated, tickets are interchangeable between buses, metro and trains.
The RER is a suburban rail system whose lines do not terminate in a central station in Paris but go right through to a destination on the other side of Paris.
In the centre of Paris the RER runs underground stopping only at major interchange stations. The RER can therefore be very useful for some cross-city routes and are certainly speedier as stations are much further apart than the Metro.
The bus network really only plays a supporting role to the Paris Metro in the centre of Paris. You will find yourself using the Metro for the majority of your journeys.
Paris Metro/bus maps are free and most reliably available at the tourist offices scattered around the city.
On one side is a very good, detailed map of Paris with the Metro and RER lines marked together with the numbers of the buses that interchange at Metro and RER stations.
On the other side is a detailed bus map.
Paris public transport is divided up into zones that radiate out from the centre. For perhaps the majority of visitors they will not go outside the central zone (zone 1).
Zone 1 is where nearly all hotels are and where all the city centre sights are located. The Paris Metro system is pretty much restricted to the inner 2 zones for which there is a flat fare structure.
If you interchange from the Metro to the RER, perhaps to Disneyland, Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or Versailles the RER train may well go out to zones beyond that covered by a Metro ticket.
For most lines the first train is about 5.30am and the last well after midnight. Frequencies are very high, a few minutes between each train at most. There is a strict non-smoking policy.
Masks are currently mandatory on public transport for those aged 6 and above. They are also mandatory at other enclosed spaces. You do not need to wear a mask outside unless you are in an area with lots of people gathering, such as a bus stop, flea market, metro platform, stadiums, queues etc.
The Paris public transport system is divided into circular zones that radiate out from the central zone, zone 1. For the Metro, only a few lines breach zone 1 at their extremities.
For this reason we do not go into zones here. If you use the RER to places like Disneyland, the airports or Versailles you will require tickets valid for these outer zones. Full details are at our Paris RER trains page.
To access the Metro system you will need a ticket of one kind or another. Whatever ticket you have, (including travel passes) you insert the ticket into an automatic barrier which after validating the ticket allows you through.
The first time, just position yourself behind a local and follow what they are doing - it really is simple and identical to many other systems like the London Underground.
In the Metro you can use 1 ticket and make any transfers between lines with only that 1 ticket so long as you're underground and in the Metro system itself. Keep it with you until you exit because some Metro or RER stations require it for you to leave.
So long as you stay underground a single Metro ticket also lets you use and transfer between the RER and Metro stations that are inside the 2 zones of Paris itself.
A single ticket is valid for one journey and can be used on the Metro, RER, Bus and Tram within Paris and its immediate suburbs.
Single tickets are sold either individually or in a pack of ten single tickets, called a 'carnet'. You can buy tickets at ticket offices or automatic ticket machines at Metro, bus, tramway and RER stations.
The cardboard t+ ticket packs of 10 have now been entirely replaced. The reasoning is that these types of tickets often get lost, so not all the tickets are used as one is put away somewhere and lost. The cardboard magnetic strip gets easily demagnitised and can no longer work and there are better electronic solutions now available.
From 13 October 2022, cardboard t+ ticket packs were no longer sold from vending machines at 182 stations and bus stations.
As a visitor your alternative is Contactless t+ ticket packs of 10, these are actually €2 cheaper overall than the cardboard version. You can also get a Navigo Easy Pass for €2 which you can top-up at ticket machines and retailers or with your smartphone. Finally, you can still buy a single use ticket on board the bus for €2.10.
|1 Ticket for Metro, Bus or RER within Paris
|Contactless t+ 10 tickets (as above) for adult (4-10 years)
|Contactless t+ 10 tickets (as above) for child (4-10 years)
For use on one journey of the Paris Metro or Buses or on zone 1 RER trains in Paris.
T+ tickets are a convenient option if you just need the odd journey around Paris over 1 or 2 days.
If you are using public transport more extensively for your visit to Paris there is a wide range of passes available. We have a dedicated page for these so you can identify the right public transport for your needs.
Once in Paris it is easy to buy tickets from manned ticket offices and automatic ticket machines. There are several variants of ticket machines, most have a choice of languages including English.
The ticket machines are reliable and sell a range of transport tickets, few people will be buying the single T+ tickets.
We would recommend you take a few minutes to read the other ticket types available as they well be more economical and convenient than single tickets.
Using the Paris Visite travel card, you will be able to use all the public transport services in Paris. The metro pass consists of a simple ticket, no photo required.
It provides travel rides in Paris (with no limit) on the transport system including Metro, RER (regional express trains), bus, tramway, suburban Transilien SNCF trains, Montmartre funicular, Noctambus, Optile bus system and Montmartrobus.
As well as being a travel pass the ticket also provides discounts to tourist attractions though not the main head-liners like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum. Typically a 20% discount on entrance to the Arc de Triomphe which may not be a high priority for you.
The Paris Visite/Paris Metro Pass is heavily marketed at tourists by both Paris authorities and the tourist sector, many visitors are unaware that there are alternatives.
If you are using public transport a lot in Paris or are staying for more than the 2 or 3 days of the average visitor then these are worth evaluating.
There are quite a few options available combining public transport passes combined with tickets to some of the leading Paris attractions.
For the visitor only in Paris a day or two these can make a lot of sense, offering a one-stop solution to getting around Paris and visiting the main sights in one convenient package.