Using the Public Transport Systems in Paris

Travel & LeisureTravel Tips

  • Author Martin Davison
  • Published September 9, 2020
  • Word count 1,156

Paris public transport is one of the most comprehensive systems in the world, meaning you have many options to get around the city or beyond.

About Paris Public Transport

Whether it's buses, night buses, the Paris Metro, trains or trams, there is a Paris public transport option suitable for all that will get you within walking distance of numerous monuments, tourist attractions, museums and entertainment venues, or the Paris airports.

Ile de France Mobilities organises public transport in Paris and the Ile de France region, and Paris has two main operators for Paris, RATP and SNCF Transilien, who work together for public transport.

Additional operators like Keolis and Transdev also provide transport options within Ile de France, meaning well over 3000 tourist attractions are in reach of the public transport network, including castles like Chateau de Fontainebleau, etc.

Paris Metro

The Paris Metro, with a full name Metropolitain, from the company that first started this rapid transport system, the word Metro is now commonly used, and the Paris Metro is one of the most dense and busiest Metro systems in the world, running since the first line opened in 1900, with the first Paris Metro maps produced in 1901, continuing to this day.

Paris Metro lines operate from 5:30am to around 1:15am, yet on a Friday and Saturday evening plus the eve of a bank holiday, the service finishes around 2:15am and ticketing for this public transport option works on a zone system.

RER Trains

Reseau Express Regional, RER for short, is the Regional Express Network, and was designed as a commuter and rapid transit system to operate in Paris travelling to the city suburbs.

Incorporating over 250 stations and over 30 located in Paris, they are operated in collaboration between RATP and SNCF, running daily from around 5:30am through to about 1:20am, travelling to key destinations including the RER B line for Charles de Gaulle Airport and the RER A line for Disneyland Paris.

Transilien Trains

Transilien are suburban trains connecting Paris to areas in Ile de France and are a great way to reach famous tourist attractions including Chateau de Versailles, the Medieval town of Provins, etc.

The name comes from transit and from the word Francilien, meaning a person residing in the Paris region of Ile de France, hence Transilien, which is the SNCF train network running daily to and from the major Paris train stations including Gare du Nord, operating from around 5:30am to approximately 12:50am.

Paris Tramway

From the 1850s the Paris tramway network ran until the 1930s, yet started again in the 1990s within Ile de France. Most tram lines operate in the suburbs of Paris, yet there are some that are classed as within the city itself.

Transport connections link up at stations of the tramway system to other transport in Paris like buses, where one ticket links to both when transferring, with the Paris tramway service operating from around 5:30am through to 12:40am daily.

Paris Buses

A vast Paris bus network, mainly run by RATP, with central lines and many others that travel in the Paris region, you will also discover other bus companies that operate in specific areas such as Keolis.

RATP Paris buses operate from around 5:30am to 12:30am daily, but check each bus line and timetables carefully as some Paris bus routes stop at a different terminus during weekends or French holidays compared to a week day, and times vary from one bus line to another.

Noctilien Night Buses

The majority of Paris public transport stops running during the early hours and this is where the Paris Noctilien transport service take over.

Paris Noctilien is a night bus service operating between around 12:30am and 5:30am starting from Paris at trains stations and transport hubs, travelling to over 200 towns and cities in the Paris region, and the Noctilien Paris night buses are run by RATP and SNCF Transilien in conjunction with each other.

The Montmartre Funicular

Funiculaire de Montmartre opened in 1900 as a true funicular with two counterbalanced cars that moved up and down the steep incline in opposite directions at the same time. After being rebuilt, it now has independently operated cars, but still retains its original name.

For the same price as a Paris Metro ticket you can use the Funicular to reach the top of Montmartre Hill where Sacre Coeur Basilica is located, which is a ride of approximately 90 seconds, operates all year from 6am to around 12:30am.

Paris Airport Buses

Two dedicated buses operated by RATP offer a direct service to the Paris airports, which are the OrlyBus that goes from Gare Denfert-Rochereau in Paris to Orly Airport and RoissyBus that goes from Palais Garnier Opera in Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport.

With a journey time of around 60 to 75 minutes, RoissyBus operates daily from around 5:15am to 12:30am at 20 minute intervals, whereas OrlyBus runs from around 5:30am to midnight daily at 15 minutes intervals, with a journey time of approximately 30 to 40 minutes.

There are also Airport shuttle bus services called Le Bus Direct operated by the Paris Airports with 4 different routes stopping at various locations in Paris including the Eiffel Tower, plus one operates an airport shuttle bus service between Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Orly (ORY) airports.

Travel Zones

Travel within Paris and Ile de France is based on a zone system with zone 1 being central Paris, then further out is downtown Paris for zones 2 and 3. Zones 4 and 5 are more distant areas of the Paris region, which include places such as Rambouillet, Versailles, Fontainebleau, Disneyland Paris and CDG Airport.

Tickets for Paris Public Transport

The T+ ticket is for occasional users of public transport in Paris. 1 ticket will allow you to travel on a single journey utilising the Paris Metro, although you can also transfer to the RER trains for a journey in Zone 1 or vice versa within a limited time of 90 minutes.

A T+ ticket is also valid for the RATP buses and the Paris Tramway, where you can change between the two, again valid for 90 minutes. Yet for Noctilien night buses, 1 T+ ticket is valid for those with two digits like bus line N01 and 2 T+ tickets are needed for the three digits like bus line N144. A T+ ticket will not provide access to the Paris Airports and when travelling further than Zone 1 like using Paris RER trains, then a ticket must state the destination.

If you are on holiday in Paris for a few days, then you can obtain a Paris Visite pass that allows unlimited travel on the Metro, the Paris tramway system, buses, RER and Transilien Trains.

You can obtain a pass for 1 day or for 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days allowing you to travel within Paris and the nearest suburbs in tariff zones of 1 to 3. Alternatively, for visiting tourist attractions like Chateau de Fontainebleau or for getting back to one of the Paris airports, then you would need a Paris Visite Ile-de-France Region ticket, which covers all the zones from 1 to 5.

Looking at visiting Paris in France, then let the EUtouring Team help you discover even more about the city of lights and romance, including the many attractions, the Paris public transport systems, public toilets, accommodation and much more, just visit https://www.eutouring.com or https://www.eutouring.com/transport_in_paris_france.html

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