Guide to Paris: Navigating the Metro

If Paris is a well-dressed, high-mannered and espresso-drinking enchantress, then the metro is her nicotine-laced nervous system.

Were you thinking of Joan of Arc, too?

Back to the Parisian Metro. In such a massive city, learning how to get around town quickly is essential, and trust me, Paris busses do not cut it. Crazy crowds permitting, the Métro is the best way to travel in the city.

Using the métro is as simple as finding a stop, buying/using a ticket and getting on the train. Here’s how to look like a local while doing it.

Psst. There’s a video waaaaaaay down there. ↓ It’s of my favorite métro nuisances thus far. Click here to get to it.

Find entrances to the Métro by locating the Art Nouveau signs.

Descend into the belly of the city.

If you don’t already know, take note of what line(s) your metro stop services.

While each metro station is unique, they all hold turnstiles, ticket kiosks and information desks in common.

All ticket kiosks are multi-lingual. The icons will tell you if the machines take cash, coins, or cards. The ticket falls into the deposit box at hand-level.

Most Métro information desks have helpful operators who are usually bilingual should you have any questions. Just make sure you say bonjour first.

Insert your ticket into the stile, retrieve your ticket, and walk through. Make sure you keep your ticket! You’re required to have it for the duration of your trip… of be willing to cough up 30€ when the métro authorities find you lacking.

Where to from here? Pick your line and follow the signs.

Let’s follow Line 13 down the stairs.

Which way to go? Follow the sign for Châtillon. How do I know? That’s where we live, sillies. If you didn’t know, you could look at this map:

Line 13 is light blue. We’re heading south, toward the bottom of the page, in the direction Châtillon.

You can see all the stops for all trains going in this direction. If you don’t see your stop listed, you’re going the wrong way!

The key to looking like a local on the métro is not smiling. Not even at your mother.

Adélaïde has mastered the art of blending in as a French baby.

I apologize for the TERRIBLE picture. Nothing could be done.

The doors will normally open automatically. (If they don’t, press the button or pull the handle to open them.) Whisper “pardon, pardon” as you squeeze your way out. Once you descend du train (get off) just follow the blue sortie (exit) signs.

On your way out, you’ll probably encounter a variation of this guy. If this is the case, send up a prayer of thanks; normally an inebriated accordion player will shout a song over his music while on the train next to you.

After being panhandled, you’re almost certainly closer to your destination. Unlike panhandlers, these rare cartoons of people on escalators are always welcome news in the metro. The French aren’t fit for no reason.

What goes down must come up.

The sortie signs will lead you to these sneaker-in-proof doors. They’re pretty straightforward.

Really straightforward. Push! You’re free! Fraternité, egalité, liberté!

Have you ever been on the métro? Any other subway in the world? I’d have to say while the metro is the quickest, my favorite travel method in paris is via tram- they are clean, quiet, and above ground, so the view is great! À la prochaine,


4 responses to “Guide to Paris: Navigating the Metro

  1. How ironic that you posted this story! Just last night Hank and I had company over and Hank told the story of the time he rode the metro. It was the first time I had ever heard the story and I could not stop laughing! Seeing the picture of the people packed in, (like a can of sardines as hank put it), sounded just like his story. Well, I didn’t see anyone laying on the floor. Lol

    • You know what Sam, I think Hank should write that story- it was HILARIOUS! It was such a can of sardines, and no, no one was laying on the floor because Hank wasn’t there haha

  2. Pingback: Les Vues de Paris: Septembre « Our Parisian Life·

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