Paris - Public transports
Public transport is the easiest (when there is not an on-going strike!) and cheapest way to travel in Paris and suburbs within the Paris region known as Île-de-France.
The network is extensive and well connected through Paris, less between suburbs.
Types of tickets
Both networks of Métro and RER (Réseau Express Régional, a light train network serving the metropolitan area of Greater Paris) are run by the RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens). The RATP also runs the buses.
Another important network is Transilien lines which serve the Paris region, run by the SNCF.
Single-trip tickets can be bought to travel in the greater Paris area, priced by zones (the Île-de-France region is dividev in 8 zones), from station agents and ticket vending machines (where you can pay cash or by credit card with microchip).
The standard ticket can be used on the metro, buses and the RER (Regional Express Network). Within central Paris RER and Métro tickets costs the same and the same ticket allows you to use both lines.
Cheaper options than single-trip tickets are:
- a carnet, a book of 10 tickets whose price is lower than single-trip tickets
- children under 4 years ride free on the metro, bus and RER
- children 4 to 10 yr old pay half price
- groups of children under 16 years of age or school groups with at least 10 children and accompanying by an adult pay half price
- tourist options include one- two or three-day passes for “special” visits (for example full day tickets including entrance to museums, art galleries, Disneyland, etc.)
- for the train and bus services check "off peak" tickets
Tickets may be used on both RER and/or SNCF network depending on where you are going within the Paris region.
Carte Orange - If you are a regular user of public transportation, it is advantageous to consider requesting
a "Carte Orange" at any Metro, RER or SNCF ticket offices. The card is composed of two pieces: the ID portion and the pass which can be weekly or monthly. You will
need a photo which you have to place in the ID portion of your personal "Carte
Orange", the other portion is for the weekly or monthly pass, which entitles you to unlimited travels on the metro, bus and RER and SNCF suburban trains within the
zones you paid for. Prices vary depending on zone and class.
The ticket hebdomadaire is the weekly pass which is valid from
Monday through Sunday.
The monthly pass (coupon mensuel) is valid from
the first day till the last day of the month. It can be bought starting
the 20th of the month for the following month. One thing to remember is
that the first of the month often there are long queues of people
buying their coupon mensuel.
You will have signed your "Carte Orange" pass but
remember also to sign the ticket each month. They are non transferable and
the inspectors can fine you if it is not signed.
Any subscriber to Carte Orange can get free of charge a Navigo pass and charge each month or week the cost of the coupon. Forms can be obtained at the RATP ticket offices. Thanks to Navigo in case of theft or loss you do not have to buy a new coupon but simply request a new pass for a cost of less than 10 euro.
Navigo pass - it is a paying system linked to a smart card. The pass, a smart card, allows to travel in Paris and in the Île-de-France region instead of using paper tickets or Carte Orange; the smart card is passed over an electronic reader placed at the entrance of metro, RER and some SNCF stations, some have dedicated entry doors for Navigo card holders.
Navigo pass gives access to various networks in Île-de-France (RATP, SNCF, Optile, transport companies participating in STIF -Syndicat des transports d'Île-de-France - and the Vélib' system, the public bicycle rental program launched in Paris in July 2007).
Carte Famille Nombreuse - Families with three or more children are entitled to SNCF and RATP (metro and RER) special fares which are based on the number of children under 18 in the family household as well as discounts on national museums, some cinemas, sport centres (check with your municipality, the mairie), shoes André etc.
The discounts parents are entitled to depends on the number of children under 18 yrs old in their household:
- 30% discount for three children
- 40% for four children
- 50% for five children
- 75% for six or more children
Who is entitled? Any family residents on French territory (French nationals or from any European Union country) with three or more children under 18 years old.
Families formed from a combination of more than one household (familles recomposées) are entitled if they have had the charge of 5 children under 18 years old for more than three years
The card Famille nombreuse for a family of three children is valid 3 years, for families of 5 or more children is valid 6 years.
The discounts are cumulative with other half-price fares applicable to 4 to 12 years old children (free for under 4).
In the Paris region the card holder benefit from a 50% discount on the network of RATP and RER. Parents of 5 children or more maintain this discount for a lifetime.
Some other regional network may also offer discounts.
To obtain the card you have to fill in the form which is available at any SNCF ticket office. You will need to provide:
- an ID document (passport or French ID)
- livret de famille or birth certificates for each child translated in French if from another European country
- a photo for each person in the family
Normally it will take around two weeks to receive your cards. There is a fee of 18 euro associated with the card request.
If you wish to fill the request of documentation online click here
Below is a translation of the form you need to fill in
Kit de demande de cartes Familles Nombreuses
(Kit for the request of the Card Familles Nombreuses)
Les champs gras marqués d'un astérisque (*) sont des champs obligatoires.
The fields in bold with an asterisk (*) are compulsory
Madame Mademoiselle Monsieur
Nom* - Prénom* :
Last Name* - First Name *
Etag, Appart :
Floor, Apt number:
Rés, Bat, Esc :
Residence, Building, Stairs:
N°, Voie* :
Known as (it is used for neighbourhood with a "local name")
Code postal* - Ville* :
Postal code* - City*
For more information on the card, click here (pdf document in French)
The RATP/RER/SNCF have excellent sites in French, but also in English and German:
The main Terminus stations in Paris are Gares du Nord, de l’Est, de Lyon, Austerlitz, Montparnasse, Saint-Lazare.
- The metro is composed of 13 lines which serves 250 stations in Paris or close suburbs. Each line is identified by a number, colour and starting/ending name station (example: line 1, yellow; Grande Arche de la Défense – Château de Vincennes).
- The metro runs from 5.30AM to 1AM.
- With one ticket you can travel everywhere, no matter how many changes you do.
- Most of the time the name of the stations are from roads or sites close to the stops.
- The buses cover all of Paris and a big part of the suburbs. There are more than 100 lines. They are identified by numbers. The busses in Paris carry numbers inferior of 100 and the buses serving the suburbs have numbers superior to 100.
- The number is indicated at the back and front of the bus. On the side of the bus you can see the principal stop of the bus. The hours depend of the lines. Some do not work in the early morning or late at night or on Sundays and Holidays.
- With one ticket you can travel everywhere in Paris (only changes are not allowed) You will need another ticket if you change buses.
- You will need between two to six tickets to travel in the suburbs, depending of the length of your travel.
- There are also special lines with special prices
- PC (Petite Couronne): To go literally around Paris; stops at all « doors of Paris »
- Montmartribus: Goes across the « Butte Montmartre »
- Balabus: To discover Paris sites, only on Sundays and Holidays.
- Noctambus : These are night buses, from 1 am to 5 am, starting from Chatelet
- Orlybus: Goes from Denfert Rochereau to the airport Orly
- Roissybus: Goes from Opera to the airport Roissy Charles de Gaulles
- Noctilien is the network of night buses in the Ile-de-France region made of 42 lines connecting Paris to 175 communes in the Ile-de-France. All the line numbers start with the letter N. The network has terminus in the major transfer stations: Gare de Lyon, Gare de l'Est, Gare St Lazare, Gare Montparnasse and Châtelet.
- The RER (Réseau Express Régional) is a light train network composed of four lines identified by a letter, a colour A(red) B (blue) C (yellow) D (green) or E (purple), a number and a direction.
- The RER runs from 5.30AM to 1AM
- Price of the trip depends on the zones crossed during the journey (except within Paris where you can use a metro ticket)
- Stations are named after the town where the stop is located, except for Paris, which has many stops, therefore the name is after a square or a road in the vicinity of the stop.