Monday, July 29, 2013

Back to Paris Basics - Navigating the Metro


With so many new 'Petite' friends and first timers heading to Paris we have to remember to re-cap the basic essentials and practicalities of Paris ... to help you plan, prepare and book for a smooth arrival and overall experience. better place to start or over than the Metro System!  

 The Paris Metro System - Becoming familiar with the Paris Metro and a Paris Metro map is essential to any Paris visitor. However the map of the Metro may as well be in Greek, if you don’t know basic facts about taking the Paris Metro.

To ride the Paris Metro is a fact of Parisian life. From 5:30 am to 12:30 am every day, the Metro serves 6 Million out of the 10.5 Million citizens of Paris - unless operations get disrupted by a strike of some sort. Barring that, the Metro is so efficiently thought out that you would be hard pressed to walk a quarter mile in any direction without finding a “bouche de métro” (mouth of the metro) and go anywhere your heart desires.

Each subway station has a counter with employees to help you. Subway and bus maps are available in the stations. They are free on request at the counter. Ask for the tourist map because it contains a large map of Paris with the main streets and monuments.

In each subway station a map of the area is always available. Do not hesitate to have a look at it before getting out of the subway, in order to find the direction to your guest room/apartment or sightseeing destination.

Subway maps are also displayed on the platforms and in the station. 

A brief tutorial:
On a Paris Metro map, you’ll see 14 metro lines crisscrossing all over Paris, and complemented by the ever-expanding (RER) suburb-bound Express lines. Metro lines used to be known only by the names of the final stop at each end. For better clarity, lines have been given numbers and colour codes on Paris Metro maps to help you recognise your target lines more easily. One example is Nation – Porte Dauphine (Line 2 - which is the blue line on the map). If you entered a Metro station somewhere in the middle of this line (for example 'Anvers' metro station) and your destination is a stop in the general direction of Porte Dauphine (for example 'Monceau' station), you would look for signs naming the final stop of the line - these signs would lead you to the platform where the blue line is heading in the direction of Porte Dauphine and not in the opposite direction which is Nation.

If your destination is not on your current line, your trip requires a change of lines. On the Paris Metro map, you’d want to identify the line your stop is located on, as well as the final stops at each end of that line. (The ones that give you the name of the line). Then, you’d want to find a station where your current line and the other line cross, so you can switch lines there. That line transfer is called“correspondance”. You’ll see orange correspondance signs inside the stations where these transfers are made. Once your correspondancecompleted, you’ll be on the correct platform and in the right direction. The key is to keep track of the end stations (the name of the line) in the direction where you’re headed. As you approach platforms, a blue sign on the wall will show that name and list your stop among all the stops left in that direction.

The lobby of each Metro station usually has a Paris Metro map electronic itinerary. On it, you locate your metro stop and push the matching button. Your chosen stop and itinerary will light up in a dotted string of all the stations in your trip, including line changes.

We recommend carrying a small paris guide that includes a metro map. Official metro foldout maps are freely handed out at metro stations.

For the purpose of preparing and planning your trip we recommend looking up your itinerary online prior to going out. The Paris transit authority (RATP) has a fancy page that gives you detailed routes for linking any two points you wish, in the Paris region. The itinerary includes the Metro, RER, city buses and even neighborhood maps for the short walk outside. Go to and click on International passengers, then Itinerary.

For online access to the official Paris Metro map, go to and click on International passengers, then Interactive map.

Ticket costs: It is cheaper to buy a booklet of 10 subway tickets (approximately 11 euros) rather than to buy individual tickets (1.60 euro each). Otherwise, there are also weekly, monthly or 3-5 day passes. If you stay at least 4 nights in Paris and do not like to walk, we advise you to take a weekly ticket (15.40 euros for the week from Monday to Sunday). In this case, take an identity photo with you when you buy your weekly ticket and ask for an orange card. Be careful, certain counter employees, certainly commissioned for each sale, will try to dissuade you and try to sell a 5-day tourist card to you. They can tell you that the orange card is only for Parisians or working people. This is incorrect.

One metro ticket costing €1.40 allows you to ride all day on that one ticket as long as you don’t exit the metro. Once you exit a metro station, even if you exit at the wrong stop by mistake, you need a new ticket.

Finally it should be noted that the subway is not dangerous and even if you take the last subway around midnight, you do not have to fear. However, as in all big cities, there are pick-pockets, so never carry too much money or your airplane tickets or passport with you. They will be safer left in your 'Petite Paris' guest house. 


  1. Hi, petit Paris :). I just found you and am so glad! I am a fellow Aussie francophone and love reading and writing about France. Your service and apartments look ' tres interessant' ! Looking forward to checking out more posts. Merci :)

  2. Hi gigi! Yaaaay! welcome. Im so glad you found us too. Welcome to the paris party hehe! Thanks for your kind words, the website is growing more and more. I hope you come to Paris soon and would be interested in trying one of our B&B :) Oh and we have a fun facebook page - check it out: