Paris Hotels Articles

April 1, 2010

Overview of the Paris metro (subway) system

If you’re visiting Paris and want to get around quickly and cheaply, try the train network known as the Metro.

It’s easy enough to find your way around: there are 14 lines, each identified by their number. The direction of travel is denoted by the names of stations at each end of the line. Interchange stations have signs at platform level marked with the word “Correspondance” plus the relevant line numbers, guiding passengers towards the correct platform for their next train.

It’s generally not difficult to negotiate even the larger stations as everything is clearly signposted.

Tickets can be bought singly, or in “carnets” of ten. There are also various travel passes, including ones for tourists. The web site of transport provider RATP has details of these and also has downloadable maps of the network.

Of course, there are some disadvantages of Metro travel: trains can be very crowded, especially at rush hour or on lines that serve the city’s major attractions. Most trains run underground, so you don’t get to see as much of Paris as you would if travelling by bus.

However, on the plus side, trains are frequent and take passengers efficiently from A to B.

And if you decide to give the Metro a go, there are some nice things to look out for.

Above ground, there are still a handful of Art Nouveau entrances to stations such as Anvers, or the Hector Guimard design at Abesses.

The interior of some stations is themed according to famous attractions of the neighbourhood. At Varennes, close to the Musee Rodin, you’ll see copies of some of the artist’s most famous works. The platforms at Louvre-Rivoli are nothing less than little museums in their own right, mirroring the atmosphere and exhibits of the Grand Louvre.

Many of the larger stations feature a selection of shops and kiosks and there are lively buskers who will brighten your journey with a variety of entertaining music in the stations and aboard the trains.

And just occasionally, your train will emerge into the daylight to run above ground for a while. Make sure you don’t miss the experience of crossing the Bir-Hakeim Bridge and looking out across the River Seine to the Eiffel Tower – it’s magic!

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