Becoming at least somewhat familiar with the Paris Metro and a Paris Metro map is essential to any Paris visitor. However the map of the Metro may as well be in Greek, if you don’t know basic facts about taking the Paris Metro.
So, you’ve come to the right place because by the time you finish reading this, you will be able to access the official Paris Metro map, you will actually be able to decipher it, and you will become familiar with all the ins and outs of “…ri-ding on the Me-tro!” (lol… didn't think you could escape that Berlin song, did you?)
Paris Metro Facts
The Métropolitain was born July 19, 1900 and is as much a part of the charm of Paris as the more celebrated Eiffel Tower and other glamorous landmarks. Blame this inequity on its more purely utilitarian function, but some exquisitely decorated Metro stations, notably the veritable art gallery look of the Louvre station among others, beg to tell a different story.
From the Art Nouveau style of its distinctive earliest entrances, to the unique design and architecture of stations competing for originality, the Paris Metro is the quintessential showcase of Parisian life.
Civil Engineer Fulgence Bienvenüe supervised the construction of the original Metro. You’ll recognize the surname in metro Montparnasse-Bienvenue, which was named in his honor. Renowned architect Hector Guimard was behind the Art Nouveau look of the signature Paris Metro entrances.
Today, the Paris Metro still blends style and modernity, as exemplified by the latest all automated (no driver) Météor line, to serve a new Parisian cocktail of European, African, Asian faces and the innumerable tourists, all commuting silently.
Despite the silence or the usually muted conversations, the roaring Metro truly has a life of its own, an inescapable groove spiced up by the vivid billboards on the platforms, the impromptu performances of musicians and artists in interchange walkways or trains, and the diverse shops in many stations. If you care to watch, the Metro is truly quite a scene.
It is not uncommon for people to flawlessly know their way underground even without a Paris Metro map, and be almost clueless above ground. So, given all its intricacies, I won’t fault you for figuratively getting lost in the Metro, but I’ll show you how to not literally get lost in it in this easy tutorial.
Taking the Metro
To ride the Paris Metro is a fact of Parisian life. From 5:30 am to 12:30 am every day, the Metro serves 6 Million out of the 10.5 Million citizens of Paris - unless operations get disrupted by a strike of some sort. Barring that, the Metro is so efficiently thought out that you would be hard pressed to walk a quarter mile in any direction without finding a “bouche de métro” (mouth of the metro) and go anywhere your heart desires.
Before the Metro swallows you to spit you out some place, there is pertinent information the unfamiliar user needs beyond just looking at a Paris Metro map. (Some of the following benefits primarily visitors who are new to mass transit. Feel free to skip over it, or simply pick and choose the information you need).
For online info in English and the the official Paris Metro map, go to RATP.fr and click on the British flag for the English language version; Then, click on the "Travelling" drop down menu. From there, you'll see the "Plans" link ("Plans" in this case is the French word for maps). Click on it and then click on the "Plan Interactif" button (English info may be limited).
The Paris Metro costs €1.70 to “get in”. What I mean by that is, you could ride all day on one ticket as long as you don’t exit the metro. However, once you get out, even if you exit at the wrong stop by mistake, you need a new ticket (unless the attendant really thinks you’re cute).
Thankfully, for those who tend to wander around, deep discounts are offered the more frequently you use the Metro.
A book of 10 tickets called “un carnet” costs €12.