Paris is a city with an extensive and efficient public transport. Its main means of getting around are metro, train and bus lines. You can also use other transport options, such as boats and bicycles. The public transport covers entire Paris and wider. Usually, you can get between two points within half an hour. You can reach even distant towns, Fontainebleau for example, in 40 minutes.
Tickets and passes suitable for anyone are available. Single ride tickets are affordable, but you can save with tourist passes and other cards. The options are many, so let’s take a detailed look at them.
Main public transport options in Paris
In Paris, you can use the metro for covering larger distances. You should use it for quick transfers between nearby points, as well. The city is well covered by metro network. In most cases, you won’t wait for a metro over 6 minutes. Even during off days and holidays, frequency between the trains is 10 minutes at most.
Another convenience the metro offers is long working hours. During working days, first trains start working between 5 am and 5:30 am. Most trains begin their last journey between midnight and 1 am. So, you can usually catch the last connection around 1 am if you are in the center of Paris. On weekends and holidays, operating hours are a bit different. First (Saturday and Sunday) and last departures (Friday and Saturday) are somewhat later.
If you are a tourist in Paris, most of your journeys will be short. Most attractions are in and around the city center. Only Montmartre is a bit farther. Either way, you will be there in around 30 minutes, with walking included, if you start from the center.
The RER is an express public transport service. It is most handy for commuters travelling between the city and suburbs of Paris. If you are a tourist, you can use RER to travel between the points in the city. But, note that RER trains are less frequent than metro’s.
Yet, the RER is a good option if you travel to Versailles, Disneyland or airports of Paris. Once you board the train, you will travel up to 30 minutes to Versailles and to the Orly Airport. To the Charles de Gaulle Airport, you will travel up to 35 minutes. To the Disneyland, travelling times are around 40 minutes.
With over 50 lines, Paris buses can take you anywhere in the city. This transport option is good for sightseeing, but the frequency is hard to predict. Buses start later and end earlier than the metro and RER trains. Operating hours are between 7 am and 9 pm, in general. Yet, some lines operate longer. These usually connect main transport hubs, including metro and RER links.
In general, you should rely on buses only if you travel shorter distances. Paris has heavy traffic and jams tend to occur often. Additionally, buses usually wait long to pass the traffic lights. They also have frequent stops. Reduced number of operating buses on Sunday is another setback.
Thus, buses are handy as transfer options between a metro station and a final destination. Otherwise, don’t let the short driving distance mislead you. Even if only a couple of stops separate you from your destination. A walk to a metro station, if available nearby, and a ride can still be a faster option.
Tickets and passes
Most people travel within 3 of 5 zones in Paris. Within them, a single price ticket costs €1.9. In metro, the ticket applies while you are in the metro system. You can change the trains and travel as much as you like before you leave the system.
Still, you can save if you will use the public transport more often. You can buy 10 single ride tickets (carnet) for €16.
You can use the ticket in buses and trains (metro, RER and SNCF) within 3 zones. If your destination is in zone 4 (Versailles) or 5 (Fontainebleau), different fares apply.
If you stay in Paris longer, you can use discount passes. Paris Visite Pass and Navigo Decouverte are handy the most. They allow you unlimited rides within defined zones (up to 5) and validity period (a day, week or month). You can use the passes for bus and train (metro, RER and SNCF) rides. Note that Visite Pass applies from the specified day. Navigo’s validity starts on Monday. If you buy it on Thursday, it is still valid only until Sunday.
Batobus issues 1-day, 2-day and annual passes. You may use its boats without limits during the validity period.
To use Velib, you will need to provide a debit card for a guarantee deposit. You can buy a 1-day or 7-day ticket online or at the bike station. The ticket allows you unlimited rides under 30 minutes. If you fail to return the bike to the station within that time, extra charges apply. €1 is for the first 30 minutes, €2 for the second, and so on.
Except for the Velib, children up to 11 years pay reduced rates. Children under 3 years use the public transport free.