10 Tips for Using Public Transportation in Paris

Paris is one of the most visited countries in the world. It is a huge city with lots to see and do, so you will be using the public transportation system when you’re in Paris. The Paris transportation system is extremely easy to use even if you’re not used to using public transportation.

The most common form of Paris transportation is their underground subway system. It is an extensive system that can get you anywhere in Paris you want to go and even has lines that take you outside of Paris.

The Paris transportation system is incredibly well built and efficient. Did you know that the Paris metro system is the fourth largest metro system in the world?!

With such a large metro system, you’ll need some help to get around the city! These 10 tips will help you use the Paris transportation system like a local.

1. Consider Purchasing a Carnet

A Carnet is a book of 10 single ride transportation tickets. You save you a little bit of money buying a carnet, but they save you a lot of time because you don’t have to purchase a ticket every time you ride public transportation.

A book of 10 tickets costs €14.90. You are able to purchase a carnet at the vending machines or from the ticket windows. A carnet is a great option for people that plan on using the Paris transportation system quite a bit while in Paris or for people that will be in Paris for more than a couple of days.

2. Inside versus Outside of Paris

If you choose to purchase a carnet, you need to understand how the ticketing works. There is a difference between inside and outside of Paris. The carnet tickets are single use tickets that you are only able to use in areas that are designated to be inside Paris.

This means that you will not be able to use a ticket from your carnet booklet if you are using the public transportation system to go to Disneyland Paris or Versailles. You will also not be able to use a ticket from the carnet book if you are going to and from CDG airport.

A basic rule of thumb is that if you are using the RER and going outside the central part of Paris, you will need to buy an individual ticket rather than using a ticket from the carnet booklet.

You can use a ticket from the carnet booklet if you are only using the metro and not transferring to the RER. All metro stations are considered to be inside Paris.

You are able to transfer from one subway line to another with a single-use ticket as long as the stop you get off from is inside the Paris zone.

If you need more information about whether your stop is considered inside or outside Paris, you can ask a Paris transportation employee at the station you are departing from.

Paris France 10 Tips for using public transportation in Paris

My Experience Using the Wrong Paris Transportation Ticket

I have had an instance where I used a ticket from the carnet and got off at a stop that was considered outside Paris because I was unfamiliar with the rules. The gate did not open for me when I put my ticket in to leave the station, and I had to wait for an employee to come over.

The employee was incredibly kind and explained to me why my ticket didn’t work then took me over to the ticket counter to purchase the proper ticket for my return journey. You shouldn’t get in too much trouble if you explain to the Paris transportation employee that it was a mistake. You may be required to purchase a proper ticket, but you shouldn’t get fined as long as it was a genuine mistake.

3. Consider Getting the Paris Visite Pass

The Paris Visite Pass is a card that allows you to use the public transportation system as much as you want for 1-5 consecutive days. The prices vary depending on how many days you want and your age. A list of prices can be found here.

The Paris Visite Pass includes transportation to and from CDG and Versailles, so it can be a good deal. It can also be a waste of money if you don’t use it enough. You have to use public transportation quite a bit in order for this pass to be worth it. A single-day ticket for an adult costs €13.20.

You should figure out how much you’re planning on using public transportation in Paris and calculate how much it would cost you to purchase individual tickets, a carnet, and the Paris Visite Pass. You should purchase whatever ticket is the most cost effective for you.

I have never used public transportation enough in Paris to make the Paris Visite Pass worth it. It may be beneficial to you if you have a short amount of time in Paris and will be rushing from sight to sight and using Paris transportation a lot. I like to take my time and walk a lot, so the pass isn’t worth it for me.

4. Buy Tickets in Advance

This tip is for people that have decided that purchasing individual tickets is the most cost effective thing for them. You are able to purchase tickets in advance and use them later in the day or the next day.

This means that if you know you’re going to be using the subway to get from central Paris back to where you are staying, you can purchase your return ticket at the same time you purchase your ticket when you take the subway in the morning.

You will have to know what stop you will be departing from in order to purchase tickets in advance. This is a great tip for people who are taking a day trip to Versailles or Disneyland Paris and know exactly what stop they will be departing from.

You will save a lot of time if you purchase your return ticket in advance- especially if you are leaving a busy station during a busy time of day. You won’t have to wait in a long queue just to purchase a ticket. Pre-purchasing your return ticket means you can just get onto the train and get home earlier and with fewer crowds.

This is one of my favourite hacks when I use the Paris transportation system.

Sacre Coeur Paris France

5. Keep Your Ticket Until You Leave the Station

You should hold onto your ticket until you are out of the station. Paris transportation employees often ask to see your valid ticket even once you’re outside the turnstile.

It is safest to always have your ticket ready to show an employee. This is especially true if you’re departing at a station where you don’t need to insert your ticket to open a gate when you leave. These are the stations where you are most likely to be asked for your ticket.

6. Avoid Transferring at Large Stations

It is best to avoid transferring lines at large stations if at all possible. You will have to walk a long ways to get from one line to another, and it can be quite time consuming.

You should try to transfer lines at smaller stations if at all possible. It will save you a lot of time if you don’t have to spend 5 or more minutes walking from one line to another. You are also more likely to get a seat if you don’t get on at the most popular stations.

Louvre Museum Paris France

7. Avoid Paris Transportation Rush Hour if Possible

The subway in Paris gets incredibly busy during rush hour. You should try to avoid using Paris transportation during rush hour in order to have a better experience.

Rush hour on Paris transportation is from 8-10am and 5-8pm.

The trains will be extremely crowded during this time, and you may even have to wait for a train or two for there to be enough room for you to get on. You will be crammed onto a train with basically no room to move during rush hour. It is an overall unpleasant situation that can easily be avoided.

8. Be Aware of Pickpockets

There are a lot of pickpockets all around Paris at the popular tourist attractions. There are also a lot pickpockets in the subway stations and on the trains.

You should be sure to keep your valuables in your eyesight and hang onto your bags and purses. You won’t get pickpocketed if you are being cautious of your personal belongings.

9. You Have to Ask for a Map

You have to ask for a map of the Paris transportation system at a ticket window. They are not freely displayed for you to grab a map as you’re walking through a station.

You can download a map to your phone or look at the maps on the station walls, but it is always nice to have a paper copy for when you’re planning your journey without access to wifi.

Eiffel Tower Paris France

10. Stand on the Right

You should stand on the right-hand side of the escalators. The left-hand side is used by people who want to walk up or down the escalator rather than standings.

You will frustrate people if you are standing on the left-hand side. People are often in a rush to get to their next train to make it to work on time, so they don’t have time to stand on escalators. You should watch the people around you and do as they do.

Conclusion

You should have no problem using the Paris transportation system. It is extremely user-friendly and easy for tourists to understand.

There are signs and announcements in English, so you don’t have to worry about a language barrier, which makes it even easier to use.

The most difficult part of using the Paris transportation system is figuring out what type of ticket is best for you. I prefer to purchase a carnet because it is more convenient than buying individual tickets. I never use the Paris transportation system enough to purchase the Paris Visite Pass, but it is a good option for people who plan on using the train a lot.

Once you decide what ticket option is best for you, the rest of the Paris transportation journey is a breeze and super easy!

5 Tips for Using the China Subway System

You will probably use the subway on your next trip to China. Using a China subway system can be intimidating to foreigners. People who are don’t use public transportation in their everyday life are often more nervous than most to use the China subway system.

The China subway system isn’t hard to use. In fact, it is easier to use than many other subway systems in the world. The China subway system is so easy to use even for people with no experience.

There are, however, a number of things you should know to help you better navigate the China subway system.

1. Your Items will go Through an X-Ray Machine

Your personal items will have to go through an x-ray system before you enter the ticketing area of the subway station. This is a quick process that doesn’t take much time (even during rush hour).

There will be 2 or 3 people in uniform at the entry to the subway system standing beside a small x-ray machine. You will have to put your personal belongings on through the x-ray machine and pass through a metal detector. The personal items you will have to put through the machine include purses, luggage, and heavy coats.

You are allowed to bring water and food into the subway station, so you don’t have to worry about items like that being confiscated like they would be at an airport. The x-ray machines and metal detectors are looking for weapons and other harmful substances.

It can be a bit of a pain to get your items x-rayed if you are carrying all your luggage, but it isn’t too much of an inconvenience. It is an efficient system that barely slows your trip down, but you should allow for 5 or so minutes extra when you are figuring out how long your subway trip will take.

Xi'an China 5 Tips for Using the China Subway System

Pssst: Are you interested in reading more about China? Check out my 20 Things to Know Before You Visit China article for more helpful China travel tips.

2. The Ticket Machines are Easy to Use

The subway stations in China have automated ticketing machines. They are incredibly easy to use, and you can change the language to English. You simply select the station you want to go to and the number of tickets you want, insert your money, and retrieve your ticket.

The ticketing machines take cash, but they only take small denominations of bills and coins. If you only have larger bills, you will have to purchase your ticket at the ticket counter. The ticket counter employee doesn’t always speak English. You should be able to show the employee what station you want to go to by pointing at a map.

The Bund Shanghai 5 Tips for Using the China Subway System

3. Stops Announced in Chinese and English

In most major cities, the stops will be announced in both Chinese and English. This makes it very easy to know when to get off. The China subway system makes it difficult for people to get lost or get off at the wrong stop.

You don’t need to worry about getting off on the wrong stop if you’re in a smaller city that doesn’t announce the stops in English. There should be a map in the subway car that has English along with Chinese characters.

You should always have a picture of the Chinese characters for your stop on your phone just in case there isn’t a map or English announcements. It is unlikely that you will need to use it, but it is a good thing to have. I also like to count my stops, so I know exactly when to get off. If I know I want to get off in 5 stops, I know that the fifth time the subway stops and the doors open, it is time for me to get off.

Xi'an China Terracotta Army 5 Tips for Using the China Subway System

4. Know Your Exit

The China subway system in any particular city is huge and covers a lot of territory. There will be multiple exits at every stop, so you should know what exit you want to leave the station from.

The exits can cover multiple blocks so knowing what exit you need will help reduce the chances of you getting lost when you get to ground level. You will want to know what exit you want to take before you exit through the turnstile because some exits are only accessible by exiting through certain turnstiles.

There will be signs when you get off the train and into the open part of the station. You should look at the signs to determine what exit you need. You just need to look for the sight you want to visit and see what exit is closest to it.

The website of the attraction you are visiting will normally tell you what exit you want from the nearest subway station. You should look at the website before you get on the subway if you want to be confident that you are taking the proper exit.

If you are concerned about taking the wrong exit, you can always as an employee. They don’t always speak English, so you will want to have the attraction you want to visit written in Chinese characters to show them

Yu Garden Shanghai China 5 Tips for Using the China Subway System

5. Avoid Rush Hour

The China subway system is very busy during rush hour. You will want to avoid rush hour if at all possible. You will be crammed into the subway system with no room to move if you use it during the rush hour.

Rush hour in China is from 7-9am and 5-7pm. This is when the subway will be busiest. You should do your best to use the China subway system outside of these times.

It will make for a far more enjoyable experience if you don’t use the subway during rush hour. Trust me.

If you are using the subway during rush hour, be prepared to be cramped and uncomfortable. You should also try to avoid taking luggage on the subway during rush hour. There may not be enough room on the trains for your luggage during rush hour. You may be forced to wait for a number of trains before you are able to get on with your luggage.

Travel Insurance

You should always travel with travel insurance. It is a safety precaution that no traveller should leave home without. Travel insurance is particularly important when you’re going to foreign countries. You may eat something that doesn’t suit your stomach, accidentally drink water that isn’t sanitary, or fall while exploring the beautiful city you’re visiting.

Conclusion

The China subway system is very easy to use. You won’t have any issue trying to navigate it- especially now that you know these 5 tips!

You can feel confident using the China subway system. English is widely used in the major cities, so you won’t have to deal with a language barrier. The most challenging thing about using the subway in China is figuring out what exit to use. But even that is simple.

You can feel confident using the China subway system. It is just as easy to use as any other major transit system in the world.