Paris by Metro

The Parisian métro offers one of the most convenient means of public transportation while visiting the city. Encompassing 16—largely underground—lines and 300 stations, over 4 million people rely on it to get around Paris and its immediate suburbs. Conceived in 1900 in the Art Nouveau style as an attraction for the World Exposition, it’s become a emblem of Paris—by all means a must see! We’ll teach you everything you need to know in order to navigate the tangle of lines and stations!

How to get around Paris by Metro?

The metro was designed to facilitate travel to and from the city center. As a result, the stations are extremely close to one another and follow the layout of many of the streets they serve. The lines are numbered and classified by their termini. In contrast to the some American subways,all lines operate in both directions. To get to a specific station, just identify the line(s) nearby and check the direction in which you want to go (indicated by the terminus). The names of the station as well as the terminus are always displayed on the platform. If the station is located on a different line than the one you are on, you may always change lines by following the signs placed along the walkways.

Make sure you grab a ticket at either a counter or machine, before boarding a wagon. Controls occur frequently and the inspectors are notoriously indifferent even in the face of hysterical tourists. Ask about day passes and carnets (10-packs) at the entrance and you’ll end up saving time and a bit of money if you plan on using the metro frequently during your stay.

Petite Promenade: Why not?

Sure, the metro is an efficient way to get from point A to point B, but it doesn’t exactly scream amusement…right? Actually, a little underground excursion in the metro can be quite entertaining. First of all, it’s (not surprisingly) just a-buzzing with Parisians down there. Recognizing one isn’t too hard either. They’re the stylish ones avoiding eye contact as they rush past, occasionally mumbling pardon and nothing more. Then there are the tourists clutching their maps or digging through their backpacks. Throw in all the beggars and artists lining the wall and you’re in for some superb people watching. Every now and then someone will offer you a pamphlet full of bizarre anecdotes about the metro stations—take it!

In addition to all the commotion, certain stations have particularly unusual décor. For example the Louvre-Rivoli (line 1), Bastille (line 1) stations, as well as Arts et Métiers stop (line 11) which is entirely lined with copper lending it an submarine feel à la Captain Nemo. See if you can check out some of the “stations fantômes”, closed to public circulation. You’ll discover a secret side of Paris that most Parisians haven’t even gotten wind of. (i.e Arsenal on line 5, Porte Molitor lines 9 and 10)

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