Paris: How to get around

Paris is a large city and the top attractions are spread over various arrondissements, so knowing how to get around efficiently is key – especially when you have a limited amount of time to spend in this beautiful city. I personally enjoy walking down the narrow cobbled street discovering little shops or beautiful buildings all the while burning off some of the calories from the various pastries that I have consumed. I however also use other modes of transports to ensure that I am making full use of my time in this beautiful city.

My top recommendations among those listed below is to walk, use the Navigo Decouverte Pass and the Batobus.

Paris cherry blossoms

1. Walking

I have to mention walking first. Paris is such a beautiful city and it would be a shame if you didn’t explore this beauty on foot. Walking is the best way to discover hidden gems and take in the wonderful sights of this city.  I once walked 27,302 steps in a day and fondly remember spotting the Eiffel Tower randomly – often when we were least expecting it.

One of the most scenic walks in my opinion is by the Seine from Notre Dame to the Eiffel tower. The best time to do this walk is at sunset while making pit stops at the Pont Alexandre and the cute river bars and eateries.

Seine Paris

The footpaths in Paris are made of Cobblestone, so make sure to wear some comfortable shoes.

TIP: Download the offline Google maps before you go and you will never get lost. Google maps will still give you turn by turn instructions even if it is not connected to the Internet.

2. Trains

Public transport in Paris is, in my opinion, one of the best in the world. It is reliable, punctual and very easy to navigate even if you don’t speak French.
There are two types of trains that you need to concern yourself with in Paris, the Metro and the RER (suburban) Trains. I promise you that the train system is not hard to grasp.

Fun fact: I was 20 when I first took a train.

The Metro services the arrondissement whereas the RER trains services suburban areas but it does make some stops within the arrondissement as well. Within the metro area, you can use your tickets on the RER trains as well.  The best way to navigate the metro is by using your Google maps. Google maps now gives you the public transport option which will list the line number and metro stop. It is such a useful feature that I cannot recommend it enough.
There are several tickets options and the best one will depend on your length of stay. The ones that I would recommend are below:

2.1 Navigo Decouverte Pass

This was a discovery we made while in Paris and in my opinion is the best option if you are staying in Paris for a few days.  Especially if you are planning to visit the Chateau de Versailles and other attractions outside of the arrondissement.
The pass starts on Monday morning and ends on Sunday Evening. You can use all the RER trains (regional) on this pass which will take you to places such as the airport, Chateau de Versailles or DisneyLand.

If you are going to be using this option, make sure to bring a pen and a passport photo to stick to the front of it (they will accept a photocopy of your ID photo). You can buy this pass from the ticket booth at your local metro station and at the Charles de Gaulles Airport.

Cost: 22.15€ for 7 days + 5€ for the pass.
Pros:

  • Really good value.
  • Includes the RER trains to Disneyland, Chateau de Versailles and the Airport.
  • Pass is valid for 10 years, so the 5 euros is a once off.

Cons:

  • Starts on Monday and hence you cannot customise the days.

Getting around Paris

2.2  Carnet

The carnet consists of 10 single trip tickets which you can use across the Metro train network. This is a 4.50 euros saving over buying single tickets.
Cost: 14.50€
Pros: Cheaper than buying single use
Cons: Does not include use on RER trains.

 

2.3   Daily Ticket

A daily ticket also known as ticket mobilis offers unlimited trips on the metro system for one day. For travel within central Paris, you will need to buy a zone 1-2 ticket.
This option is great if you are going to be using the train more than 5 times in a day.
Cost: 7.30€
Pros: Cheaper than buying single use
Cons: Does not include use on RER trains

If you are planning to use the trains regularly, I would highly recommend buying the Navigo pass. All these tickets are also valid on the bus. You can buy train tickets at any of the metros.

 

3. Bikes (Velib’)

This service is offered by the Paris city hall. There are Velib’ stations all over town and they are easy to find. The daily ticket offers you an unlimited number of 30 minute journeys. For journeys longer than 30 minutes, you will have to pay a small additional charge.
I personally would not use this service but that’s mainly because I do not know how to ride a bike (Gasps).
Cost: 1.70€ for a day and 8€ for 7 days
Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Scenic way of seeing Paris

Cons:

  • Dangerous. The roads of Paris are not exactly safe
  • You cannot use your credit card if it does not have a chip.
  • The stations very often run out of bikes.

4. Uber

Uber is actually legal in Paris and cheaper than taxis.  The traffic can be quite busy, so keep that in mind (especially getting to the airport).

Champs Elysees Paris

5. Batobus

The batobus, which stands for sea bus is a service targeted to tourists and works in a similar fashion to the hop on/off bus.

It is a very scenic way of seeing Paris. There are nine stops along the Seine close to Paris’s main attractions.

 

Cost: 17€ for 1 day and 19€ for 2 days
Pros:

  • Scenic way to see Paris
  • Cheaper version of the Bateau Mouche

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Have to pay extra to use trains

6. Hop on/off Bus

If it is my first time in a city and I only have a couple of days, I tend to favour using a hop on/off bus. They are great for touring the city and they stop you right next to the main attractions. In fact, if you do not know which attractions to go to, then this service will be able to guide you and give you a great itinerary.

 

Cost: varies depending on package and companies
Pros:

  • Quick overview of the main attractions
  • Scenic way to discover Paris.

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Need Separate ticket to travel on Metro service

I hope that you enjoy this post. What are your favorite modes of transport?

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