Throw away any preconceptions about mass transit being slow, intermittent and inconvenient. In Paris, the Metro trains are fast, extensive, and run constantly. Even Parisians who own cars frequently use the Paris Metro for getting to work and doing errands because it is the fastest way to get around Paris.
Many travelers begin riding the Paris Metro using single tickets. But once you discover how easy it is to get everywhere, you will soon find yourself buying tickets all the time. Save yourself some time and hassle with a carnet.
A carnet is a collection of 10 tickets offering a slight discount over the normal ticket price. You can request a carnet at the information desk in any station.
To keep things simple, many tourists, instead, opt for the Paris Visite card, which gives you unlimited rides on the Metro , buses and Paris-area trains for 1 to 5 days and within certain zones. It has the added benefit of museum discounts and freebies and can be purchased before you depart on your trip.
If you are staying in Paris for longer than a week, another option is the Carte Orange. This gives you unlimited access to the Paris Metro and buses for one week. You get a photo ID card and a smaller card with a magnetic strip that can be used over and over again.
Riding the Metro
1. Check out a Paris Metro system map to find out which line you need to take and in which direction you need to go to get to your ultimate destination.
Let’s say you’re starting at the Arc de Triomphe at the Charles de Gaulle Etoile stop and your destination is the Louvre, which is at the Louvre Rivoli stop. You would take Line 1 in the direction of Chateau de Vincennes. To return, you would take the same line but in the opposite direction, La Defense.
You can find metro maps in all the stations or the station agent can give you a pocket map. Also, there are signs in the station and on board the train with a listing of all of the stops for that particular line.
2. Insert your ticket with the magnetic strip (strip-side down) into the turnstile.
3. Retrieve your ticket once it pops out of the turnstile and then enter. Follow the signs that correspond to your metro line and direction to proceed to the platform.
4. Hop on the train.
5. When you exit the station, look for the blue exit signs marked sortie. The stations are big and two exits can be more than a couple of city blocks away from each other. There are detailed maps showing a close up of the area immediately around each station. They will show you to which streets each exit leads.