How to Ride the Metro like a Pro


The Paris metro system is one of the easiest and most efficient systems in the world. Learning how to navigate it like a pro is key in becoming a real Parisian. This post will give you a nice introduction to the Paris underground system and some of our expert tips and tricks to help you on your way to becoming a Metro expert.

Lets first get some of the basics out of the way. The metro system is run by the RATP and first opened on July 19th, 1900, making it the second oldest in the world (after London). The system is

made up of 14 major lines (numbered 1-14) and two subsidiary lines (3bis and 7bis) that stretches 214 km and is made up of 273 stations. The Paris Metro system helps over 3.9 million passengers to get from point A to point B daily.

Tickets can be purchased at machines in all stations and at ticket offices in many stations. Most locals who use the metro at least once a day are advices to get a month or year-long pass on their Navigo Pass. For less frequent use it is worth buying a pack of 10 individual tickets called a carnet. Please note that you should keep your used ticket with you through the end of your ride as you could be asked to show this as proof of purchased fare by security.

Riding the Paris metro is quite easy. Each line is defined by the line number and line color with the two directions (i.e. the names of the last stop on each end). As you follow the tunnels between stations, you will find clear signage as well as a list of all of the stations in each direction. While it is instinct to run for a train, once the signal blows, keep clear of the doors. Trains come on average every 3-4 minutes (2 minutes during peak time). The time of each train’s arrival is displayed on each platform.

About to hop onto a crowded train? On the edge of the platform you will find the white painted section and the previous passengers’ dirty shoe prints will indicate where the doors will line up with the station. Always stand to the side and make sure all passengers exiting the train are allowed off before you board the train.

The first train leaves each end of the line at approximately 5:30am every day and the last just after midnight (just before 2am on Friday and Saturday evenings). You can find the first and last train times at each station where the time and arrival time of each train is displayed. There is about 1 minute in between each station. You can use this to help calculate how long it will take you to get from point A to point B.

There’s also an urban legend that says the last car on the train is that of singles. How about a little speed dating between stations?

Our wonderful friends Anne of Pret-A-Voyager and Ashley of Chasing Heartbeats have created a wonderful video guide on how to ride the metro. We thought we would share this with you as well:

There have also been a few alternative metro maps that have come out over the years like the Paris Metro Bar Map or the map that shows you the best burger near each metro stop.

Finally, we would like to warn our readers about the metro pick-pockets. Please be sure that your bags are always closed and held tightly in your possessions. Keep an eye specifically on your phones (iPhones are the most commonly stolen phones) as pickpockets in Paris are skilled and fast!


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