The Paris metro system is one of the oldest in the world – having opened in 1900 for the World’s Fair. Known for its unique Art Nouveau entrances designed by Hector Guimard, the Paris Metro is one of the icons of Paris – and your best bet for getting across the city quickly and cheaply.
First, don’t be worried if you don’t speak any French. All of the signs and announcements in the metro system are translated into English (as well as German, Spanish and Chinese, usually). Furthermore, employees working in the metro stations will be able to provide help in case you have questions.
Made up of 16 lines, the Paris metro is comprised of 245 stations and runs from 5:30am to 1:15 am during the week and 2:15am on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays. Tickets can be purchased at ticket machines or with an agent at kiosks in the station. Do not ever buy tickets from illegal vendors hanging around in the stations – these tickets likely won’t work, so you’ll lose your money. You can purchase single journeys (1.90) or a set of ten tickets called a carnet for 16.90. Remember that once you validate your ticket and enter the metro you need to hold on to it for the entirety of your journey, until you exit the station (even though you will not need the ticket to exit). There are regularly ticket controls on the trains and in stations and you wouldn’t want to get stuck with a heavy fine if you’re caught without your ticket.
In addition to regular tickets, visitors have the option of purchasing Paris Visite tickets which are valuable for either 1,2,3, or 5 consecutive days and cost between 11.65 and 63.90 euros. If you are here for a month or more you will want to invest in a Navigo pass. To make your journeys easier, it is advisable to download a navigation app like CityMapper which will tell you all of your options for getting from point A to point B, even telling you which part of the train to sit in and what exits to take.
While public transportation is convenient and very safe, there are some common sense rules that you should always follow when taking the metro in Paris. First and foremost beware of pickpockets. Never keep your phone or wallet in your pocket as metro thieves work quickly and will slip it out usually without you even noticing. Hold your bag closely to your body and opt for purses that have a zippers.
The pickpockets in Paris tend to work in groups and will target metro stops near tourist sites like the Eiffel Tower and Montmartre. The metro line 1 is known for pickpockets because this line serves the Louvre museum, the Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe. Be especially careful if the trains are crowded as this is the easiest time for pickpockets to push against travelers and then quickly steal belongings. If you happen to be the unfortunate victim of a theft on the metro, file a report with the Parisian police at the nearest police headquarters (you can ask an agent in the metro where this is). It usually happens that thieves will take cash out of wallets and then discard in the metro, so while you may lose some money you have a good chance of getting your wallet back.
Visitors can be overwhelmed by the thought of taking the Paris metro, but it is actually quite easy and very convenient to use once you get the hang of it. The Parisian metro system is quite reliable and usually clean, so there is no reason to avoid taking it!
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