Living in Paris?
Transportation in Paris
The Complete Public Transportation Network
In addition to its famous subway system, the Paris Métro, Paris has a network of bus, tram, and suburban rail services. Despite being operated by several service providers, all forms of Parisian public transportation are united under the umbrella of the Île-de-France mobilités.
The metro, for example, is run by the RATP, which is also responsible for hundreds of bus lines and a share of the tramway and RER services. The RER, the Reseau Express Régional, basically extends the metro lines into the suburbs by connecting them to the suburban railway. The SNCF, la Société Nationale des Chemins de Fers Français (i.e. the national railroad company), also runs some RER and tramway lines, plus all suburban train services.
The third organization is OPTILE, a network of private operators responsible for some minor bus lines in Paris.
There are also more than 45 night buses serving Paris, the suburbs, and various towns in the Île-de-France region. They are operating under the name Noctilien, another co-operation between RATP and Transilien SNCF.
Buying Your Tickets to Travel
For simplicity’s sake, fares and tickets have been standardized across all forms of transport by Île-de-France mobilités. A Guide tarifaire is published annually and can be downloaded from their website, while Vianavigo offers a handy online journey planner. The main ticket options are:
- single tickets (Le Ticket t+), which can also be purchased in packs of 10 (en carnet)
- rechargeable weekly or monthly travel passes (Navigo Semaine or Mois), which are usually eligible for a 50% reimbursement by the employer for commuters
- day travel passes (Mobilis)
- several special options for visitors, young people, the unemployed, etc.
Other Forms of Transportation
Taxis are a popular mode of transport in Paris, and not even that expensive. Tariffs are standardized for all Parisian taxis, but taxis in other departments of the Île-de-France may have their own prices. There are various tariffs for different routes and times of the day, which are calculated either on the base horaire or the base kilométrique.
It is possible to hail a taxi on the street (at least in theory) or — this is the safer bet — to wait at a taxi stand. A green taxi sign signals “free”, a red one means “occupied”. Alternatively, taxis radio can be pre-booked under Taxi G7. Payments can often be made by card, but this is not guaranteed so it is worth checking with your driver before you begin your journey. A small tip for the driver is expected.
A Real Challenge: Driving and Cycling in Paris
Driving a car in Paris can be very stressful and is not recommended for newcomers. People living and working in central Paris will find that they might not need a car at all. Owning a car could cause more trouble than it’s worth, especially given the very limited parking facilities.
If you live in the suburbs, owning a car becomes a much more attractive option. However, many people still chose public transportation for their daily commute into town. If you do decide to drive a car in Paris, a rapid response time, nerves of steel, and a couple of French swearwords are indispensable.
Cycling is an increasingly popular alternative. Since 2007, Paris profits from a public bike sharing scheme called Vélib. For more information on cycling in Paris, including an online route planner, refer to the website of the Mairie de Paris.
National and International Transport Links
Paris is served by two international airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, and one for budget airlines, Beauvais Tillé. Paris-Orly and Paris-Charles de Gaulle are both connected to the public transportation network of Paris, whereas Beauvais is located almost 90 km from the city and is accessible by train.
There are seven major train stations in Paris. They offer high-speed connections to all major French cities and many European metropolises, e.g. London, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Cologne.
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