Transportation in Paris is not very easy to understand for tourists as not only the city is very big, but also comes with several different means of transportation. Transportation in the city centre is operated not only by the metro, trams and buses, but also partly by RER trains, which are kind of a commuter rail service.
Paris is one of the biggest cities in the world and also a real centre for tourism. All of that makes transportation in Paris a crucial thing. However, the city didn’t really streamline the transportation system, making it rather tough to understand till today.
Getting to Paris got easier in the last years though as there are not only the two main airports Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly, but also several high-speed railway connections to cities like Madrid, London, Brussels or Frankfurt. Surely, there are also several regional train services connecting Paris with cities in the approximate.
One of the most important means of transport to get from the airports to the city center and also for quick connections from some parts of the city to others are the Reseau express regional trains, which are commonly reffered to as RER. There are five different routes, which partly have different arms, making the total of RER routes way higher.
The most important RER routes for tourists are lines B and C as these connect Paris to its two main airport. RER B directly goes to Paris Charles de Gaulle and also allows connection to Paris Orly via the Orlyval. RER C allows connection to Paris Orly via bus services. RER trains are also a good way to get from one point to another in Paris as they stop less frequent than the metro and offers quick service between different parts of the city. However, there are limited RER stations in the city center of Paris. Be aware that the RER system in Paris is quite old and also not the safest way to get around.
RER lines in Paris:
Metro in Paris
The metro of Paris is not only the oldest, but also one of the most important metro systems in the whole world. Each day, it is used by more than four million people, which means that the Metro Paris is used by more than 1.5 billion people a year. As of now there are 14 metro lines with two secondary lines. Besides a single line, all lines of the metro in Paris are at least 90 years old. This also means that the whole system, while renovated and extended several times, is relatively old and partly not accessible at all.
The metro trains are also among the oldest in Europe. Safety is another issue as the metro in Paris is known to be extremly dangerous due to pickpockets. Right now, there are plans for the renovation and extension of several lines. Till 2030, it is also planned to open four new lines, which are part of the Grand Paris Express project. The metro in Paris offers connections to pretty much all destinations throughout the city and definitely is the best means of transport to get around. The fare system is combined with the trams and buses.
Most important metro lines in Paris:
In addition to the metro in Paris, the city also comes with an extensive tram system. This one is way newer than the metro and played a more important role in the city planning in the 21st century. As of now, there are nine lines of which five were openend in the last years. Another two lines are supposed to open till 2021. Due to the young age of the tram system, all trams in Paris are accessible.
There are also dozens of exchange stations for connections between the metro and the trams in Paris. As the trams mostly run in those areas, where no metro connection is available, the combination of both means of transport makes getting around in Paris very easy. All regions, which are not served by either a tram or the metro are served by bus.
Tram lines in Paris:
Even though the metro, the trams and the RER in Paris make transportation very enjoyable as they pretty much connect all parts of the city, bus services are an additional option to get around. Especially in parts of the city where the rail system is underdeveloped as well as for connecting between different stations, buses are a good option. Even though the transportation system in Paris looks rather difficult, the fare system is easy to understand. Tickets for all means of transportation including the RER (only zones 1 and 2) cost 1.80 Euro (~ 2 US-Dollar) per trip regardless of the length of journey.
Be aware that these tickets only allow connections between metro and metro, RER and RER, RER and metro, bus and bus, tram and bus as well as tram and tram. For other connections you need two tickets. If you are planning on having more rides, you can also purchase a ticket for ten rides, which costs 14 Euro (~ 16 US-Dollar). There are also passes for unlimited travel for one, two, three or five days available, which you can find more information about on the website of RATP. Be aware that fares to Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly are way more expensive and come with different prices depending on which means of transport you use.
Taxis in Paris are among the most expensive taxis in whole Europe. The minimum fare for rides is 6.86 Euro (~ 7.70 US-Dollar), while the base fare already is 2.60 Euro (~ 2.90 US-Dollar). Every kilometer comes with a charge of 1.04 Euro (~ 1.15 US-Dollar) from 10 am to 5 pm on workdays, 1.27 Euro (~ 1.40 US-Dollar) from 5 pm to 10 am on workdays as well as on sundays and public holidays from 7 am till midnight and 1.54 Euro (~ 1.70 US-Dollar) from midnight till 7 am on Sundays and public holidays. There are also reservation fees of 4 or 7 Euro (~ 4.50 or 7.85 US-Dollar) if you are calling a taxi rather than hailing one on the street. The flat rate of taxis to the airport is 50 or 55 Euro (~ 56 or 62 US-Dollar) to Paris Charles de Gaulle and 30 or 35 Euro (~ 34 to 39 US-Dollar) to Paris Orly Airport. Be aware that these rates are subject to change. Most taxis in Paris are relatively modern and quite comfortable.
Due to the sheer size of Paris, there are also several other options to get around. There are for example water buses and ferry services, which you might use to explore the city. In addition, there are also several sightseeing bus companies, which offer different options to explore the city. Mostly, these sightseeing buses are relatively expensive. Other than that, there is also Uber in Paris, which you can use as an alternative to taxis. While not really cheap, you can still safe a lot by using Uber. As in all touristic cities in the world, you can also find several touristic means of transportation like horse carriages. All of these are mostly to be found at the touristic spots.