Friday 28 December 2012

Getting Around Paris

There are a lot of options available to tourists wanting to get around Paris. Two of the most popular, aside from walking, is taking the bus or the metro. Every time we visit Paris, the big K and I prefer to take the metro because it's faster and more convenient.

Don't be confused! There are two kinds of trains in Paris, the RER and the Metropolitain or metro for short. The RER (Réseau Express Régional) are suburban trains that take you to/from Paris and its outskirts. While the metros are the Paris subway (some are overhead) trains that go around the city. 

If you will be arriving at CDG airport (Paris Charles De Gaulle), one option to get into Paris is by the RER ligne B. It is about a 45 minute train ride. One-way fare as of Oct2012 is EUR9,50. Most passengers get off at Gare du Nord to transfer to any of the several Metro lines serving Paris. The EUR9,50 fare is good until your final destination in Paris. No need to buy another ticket for the Metro (as long as you don’t exit the station).
The Paris Metro has 16 lines serving over 300 stations while the RER (Réseau Express Régional) has 5 lines serving over 200 stations.

Riding the metro in Paris for the first time can be a bit daunting. Just looking at the transport map can give even experienced travelers pause. But really, just a little research and planning before you go can prepare you on your Parisian adventure.

The Paris transport tickets

The Paris Visite Pass

On our visits to Paris, the big K and I prefer getting the Paris Visite Pass as it provides us with unlimited rides in the metro. It is also more convenient. No scrounging for loose change every time we needed to hop on one. Although if you will be visiting for less than three days, the Carnet de 10 tickets might be more cost effective. 

The Paris Visite Pass comes in 1, 2, 3 and 5 consecutive travel days. And for travel from zones 1 to 3 and 1 to 5. We always get zones 1 to 3 since that is where most of the tourist attractions are. Here's a map of the zones to guide you. The pass is also good for travel in the bus, RER, and the Montmartre funicular.  
Tip no. 1: When you buy the pass make sure you fill out the start and end dates (for passes without dates stamped). In case it gets de-magnetized you can exchange it for a new one of the same validity. For some reason the big K's pass always gets de-magnetized and they happened on separate trips. Must be his magnetic personality!   

The pass comes with a Paris street map and a list of discounts that you can avail with the pass.

The Paris Museum Pass

For our sightseeing needs, the big K and I buy the Paris Museum Pass. The pass gives unlimited visits to museums and monuments in 2, 4 and 6 consecutive days. It also saves us time in queuing specially at the popular attractions. Although there are some attractions where you still have to queue up for security like Sainte-Chapelle, the towers of Notre Dame and the Louvre.

Tip no. 2 : If you will be arriving Paris by air, it is better to buy the Paris Visite and Museum passes at the airport where you don't get long lines of ticket-buying visitors like at the city train stations. The Paris Museum Pass has a stand alone booth at the arrivals area while the Paris Visite Pass can be bought at the train station where you buy your RER train tickets to the city. 

The Paris Museum Pass good for 2 days of unlimited visits. 

Paris is just like any other big, busy city. It's got a bit of a pace to it, so all you really need to do, is take your time. Remember, you're on vacation.     

Helpful links:

Transportation Options in Paris

Paris Museum Pass

Seine River Cruise with Bateaux Parisiens

Seine River Cruise with Bateaux Les Vedettes Pont-Neuf

Online tickets for the Eiffel Tower

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