Paris Transportation

No matter where you have managed to acquire accommodation in Paris, you are going to need transportation to truly see the city.

Only the very brave, familiar with European (especially Parisian) motorists, are going to hire a car that they drive themselves —especially since rental rates start at around $65 per day, with a 20% VAT (value added tax) on top.

When you are tired of walking (Paris is a uniquely compact city, measuring just six miles across), you have several choices for getting off your feet.

Tour Companies

There are numerous tour companies that you can contact via your travel agent, or the hotel where you are staying, for a general look at Paris. And don't fear that you will be shuffled around on a strict schedule.

Most of them are very flexible, and now design their tours based on the individual's choice of places to see, and time that they have to spend. So a tour vehicle with others is not only companionable, but a cost effective way of seeing some of the major, or outlying sites of the city.

Metro System

For delving in the side streets and by-ways of Paris, not to mention the shopping districts and Museums or gardens where you can spend many hours, the most popular and efficient method of travel is the Metro system.

Metro entrance in Paris.Opened on July 19, 1900, the Metro originally consisted of just one line, running from Porte de Vincennes to Porte Maillot.

The Metro and its distinctive Art Nouveau entrances are the combined efforts of architect Hector Guimard and engineer Fulgence Bienvenue.

Today the system is comprised of 199 km of track, and 15 lines, with 368 stations, of which 87 are for line changes. In 1989, statistics recorded 3500 cars, and some 3,000 employees were responsible for transporting 6 million passengers each day.

Reportedly, no building or attraction in Paris is more than 3/10 of a mile from a Metro station.

Working in conjunction with the Metro is the RER (Résau Express Régional), that connects Paris to the surrounding countryside.

Metro Stations

The Abbesses metro station in Paris.Some of the stations of the Metro are worth visits for their own sake, including Line 1's stop for the Louvre museum, where paintings line the walls and glass display cases give the impression you are already inside the museum.

The Abbesses station on Line 12 has murals all along the spiral staircase that rises to one of the very attractive street entrances.

Art lovers will get a taste of the sculptor Rodin's works at Varenne on Line 13, where pieces have been borrowed from the nearby museum.

Tickets

Tickets on the Metro are valid for an entire trip across the city, including all line changes, so be sure and keep yours at hand, or risk an immediate fine by the conductor.

The same tickets are good for the Metro, bus, or the RER trains to outer destinations within Paris.

Tickets can be bought singly, although if you are staying a few days and plan to get around as much as possible, you might be better advised to purchase a block of 10, or a day pass which comes in various denominations, according to the zones you are travelling in.

There are also special visitors passes that allow tourists unlimited access for 1, 2, 3 or 5 days.

In every station, you will find excellent maps on display that are clearly marked with the various routes and destinations, making your next connection easier to find.

The RATP web site even has a service where you can enter where you are staying, or are located at that time, and then type in your desired destination. The system will give you the best options for getting where you are going.