Taking the metro, is generally fast and efficient. Trains run approximately every five minutes from about 5:30am to 1am and 2:15am on Fridays, Saturdays and the day before public holidays. To enter the platforms, either insert your ticket into the machines with turnstiles and retrieve it on your way through the turnstile, or scan your Navigo pass over the purple target sensor. Keep your ticket until you get out of the metro station, beyond the sign that says ‘Limite de validité de billets’. An RATP ticket inspector may ask you to show your ticket or pass at any time. On-the-spot fines (or pay later and pay more) will be given if you do not have the appropriate ticket.
One ticket can be used for any one-way trip inside Zones 1 and 2 (Paris), regardless of the number of metro transfers you make, as long as you remain in the metro system. Within Paris, you can also transfer between metro and RER trains freely.
Metro lines are color-coded and designated by number and the names of the final stops at each end of the line. These two end points are the names of the two directions in which trains run on that line. To determine which direction to take, check the map to see where your stop is and towards which end-point you want to go. Large metro maps are posted throughout stations, outside station entrances, and panels listing all the stops for each line in each direction are posted just before each platform. There are also agents working in ticket booths who will be able to provide directions and other information.
Eight trams operate along the outer edges of Paris. Normal RATP tickets and subscriptions can be used on the Tram. Transfers from Trams to buses are included in a single ticket, but transfers between the Trams and metro or RER are not.
Reseau Express Regional (RER)
The RER has five lines traversing Paris and the suburbs with trains running about every ten minutes from 5:30am to midnight on the weekdays with later hours on the weekends. Within Paris, the RER functions basically like the metro. There is important difference, however, when traveling to the suburbs. The RER lines branches out to multiple end-points in each direction and may also run express trains. Before boarding a train, ensure that your destination appears on the list of stations that hangs above the platform, and that the bullet next to your destination is lit.
Within Paris, the same tickets used for the metro can be used on the RER. If you travel to the suburbs, the price increases depending on your destination. If you take the RER into Paris, you can use your RER ticket to take the metro to your final destination in the city if you have not left the underground system. When you transfer from RER to metro or vice versa, keep your validated ticket or Navigo pass handy, as you will need it to pass through the automatic gates You must also use your validated ticket to exit most RER stations.
See the section Public under Transportation for ticketing information. Visit http://www.ratp.fr for maps, complete route information and ticketing options for the Metro, Trams and RER.
As in any other major city, it is polite to wait until passengers have disembarked before you board. In France you must by law give up your seat to disabled people, war veterans, the blind, pregnant women or people accompanied by small children. If it is very crowded, you should not use the ‘strapontin’ – folding seats – but instead stand, to increase the amount of available space. Animals are permitted as long as they are in a carrier, or are leashed and can fit on your lap. There is no smoking, eating or drinking on the metro and you will attract stares and perhaps even hostile glances if you are doing so.