Getting around in Paris
Exploring Paris is easy and much of it can be seen on foot. But when your feet refuse to walk another step it’s easy and inexpensive to hop on the Metro or a city bus.
Comfortable Shoes Required
Be prepared to walk more than you ever imagined in Paris. It's not unusual for a visitor to walk 5 to 10 miles per day. Add to that the stairs in the metro and you're getting a great workout. And besides being good exercise, walking is free.
Bring at least 2 pairs of comfortable walking shoes with you. I'm still getting a lot of use out of my Fly London wedges that I bought for my 2013 trip. I cannot stand to wear flat shoes so the rubber wedge was perfect and the thick sole provided plenty of cushioning for pounding the pavement.
It's always a struggle for me to find the right combination of style and comfort. In the end the comfort is all that matters as no one else cares what's on your feet.
If you're interested in further information about comfortable walking shoes, click here for a long discussion from the TripAdvisor Paris forum
How do I get to ______? Maps, Apps, Metro or Bus?
Before I start my day I like to use the app from the RATP the provider of public transportation in Paris. After I'm out and about for the day I like to use one of my Paris map books, or I just take a look a the maps posted on the bus stops.
My 2 favorite map books are Paris Pratique Par Arrondissement and 3 Plans Par Arrondissement. The 3 Plans book is especially good if you want to take the bus, as it has detailed bus maps. Both books are very good - and reasonably priced. I ordered mine online from www.massin.fr and my package arrived in a few days, and before my credit card was charged.
I love using my i-stuff, but I try not to use it while I am exploring the streets of Paris. I want to enjoy the beauty of Paris and not spend my time staring at a little screen. I mostly use my apps for research before going out in order to conserve my data use and to avoid having my stuff taken or lost.
The apps I've used the most are:
- TripAdvisor City Guide - be sure to download Paris before you go. This app is like having a mini guidebook in your pocket and much of it works offline.
- RATP - my go to app for metro and bus routes
- Visit Paris by Metro by RATP - new offline map from the RATP. I don't like the promotions for the over-priced Paris Visite Pass, but do like the details about travel tickets - and the maps.
Metro or Bus?
I normally choose the Metro when I want to travel a long distance in a short amount of time. I'll also choose the Metro when it's the most convenient way to get where I want to go. Navigating the Metro is easy after you learn your metro stop and learn to navigate by knowing the end station in the direction that you're headed. When I need more information about using the Metro I like the use the very helpful Paris by Train website.
I didn't ride the bus until my 5th trip to Paris. Now I take the bus whenever possible to avoid all of the stairs in the metro. It's a good idea to study the bus map a little and get acquainted with the bus line near your accommodation. I was lucky on my last trip to be staying about a block from a stop for Bus 69. This route will take you from the top of Pere LaChaise cemetery, through the center of Paris and on to the Eiffel Tower. The 3 Plans book mentioned above is your friend when you want to use the bus.
For a short visit most visitors will get along fine with a carnet of t+ tickets. A carnet is just 10 loose tickets sold at a discounted price of 14.10€ vs. 1.80€ for one ticket. With one ticket you can take the metro anywhere in Paris, including transfers as long as you don't leave the Metro system.
To enter the Metro you insert your ticket to activate the turnstile. Be sure to keep your ticket until you leave the metro in case you are stopped by the ticket inspectors. No ticket, means an on-the-spot fine of 50€.
You can also use your t+ ticket on the bus, and transfers are allowed to buses heading in the same direction within 90 minutes. You cannot transfer from bus to Metro or Metro to bus on the same ticket.
For longer trips a Navigo Decouverte card is your best option. It's a smart card that you load for travel for a week - Monday to Sunday, or the Calendar month. It's a bargain at 21.25€ for a week and 70.00€ for a month. The card offers unlimited travel on the metro, busses, RER, trams and Transilien trains in the Paris and Ile de France region.