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Hop on hop off bus vs public transportation

Three old non-French speaking travelers will be spending 4 days in Paris before heading to London. Our question: would we be better off taking a hop on/off bus rather than the metro or bus? We will be staying in the 15th arrondissement near the Volontaires metro stop. This is our first trip to Paris and our time will be very limited so we want to make sure we use our time wisely. Thanks.

Posted by
9110 posts

Tour buses go in a circle that might take an hour or more.

What If it goes clockwise and your destination is ten minutes counter-clockwise?

Posted by
11450 posts

Having used the hohos in Paris a few times let me explain.. First off the company I used(L'Open Tour, bright yellow and green buses) had four different routes.. The routes covered all areas of Paris and stopped at every major site you could want to see.. A two day pass is only 3 or 4 more euros then the one day pass.. Doing all four routes without getting off would take most of the day.. so it makes sense to get the two day pass so you are not rushing and can get off at a few of the stops .. How many is up to you. Since all major sites are covered you will not miss any major site.. so you can easily just sit on bus in whatever direction it is going and eventually get to what you want to see.. while enjoying the nice views of the neighborhoods as you pass through them and listening to a basic taped commentary via the earplugs they provide you with, yes, using the metro is faster. but you "pop up" in an area.. missing seeing the neighborhoods in between.. and regular buses are fine too but you will have to plan your own routes. Now for many people this is not an issue. but sometimes folks just want it easy.. the hohos make it all very easy.

You do not need to prepurchase you can purchase when you board bus, this is nice as if weather sucks and its raining I wouldn't bother since to me the best part of the hohos was the views from the open decks( I loved going around that traffic circle that surrounds the Arc De Triomphe! )

Posted by
2081 posts

Jay,

I liked prarriedoging, so i used the metro. Even though i only used the metro, i thought it was fast and cool. We dont have subways where i live so i kinda liked them after using Londons first. But as mentioned, you miss out on the scenery up top.
But for me, that will be covered my next time there.

happy trails.

Posted by
8295 posts

I would not use the Hop-On Hop-Off bus to get from point A to point B. It's much faster to use the Metro for that. You can also take a city bus which will have no stairs and less walking than the Metro but isn't as fast as the Metro. We love taking a hoho when we're tired, our feet hurt, etc, and we just want to ride around and see beautiful Paris. But we don't get off until we've done the complete 3 hr route. We like both hoho companies, but more so the red one called Big Bus for our purpose (just riding).

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the info. I'm leaning towards the easy route (hohos) which will give us an overview of the city without us struggling with bus lines and routes (although I think we may try the metro and regular bus just to see what they are like). I used the double decker busses in London rather than the Tube because I felt I got to see a little more of the city. I expect it will be similar in Paris.

Posted by
3769 posts

Have to agree w/Pat, Le'Open tour has many more stops than Les Cars Rouge, and you can combine
the different routes so you don't have to travel in a circle.
We were in Paris for 10 days, and my daughters (45) and (47) LOVED it! Not so much the 12 yr. old granddaughter. Go figure...
The 3 day pass also includes the Batobus . We purchased it at the airport. 44E.
I would rather use the metro, it's sooo much faster, but you do miss a great portion of the city.
One item you may want to keep in mind, is you will already be on the metro to get to most locations.
so look closely at the bus routes to see if it's a viable means of transportation.
http://www.parislopentour.com/paris-offres-speciales.php

Posted by
27743 posts

How will you get to your hotel? How will you get from your hotel to the open top bus? There are 4 bus lines and a Métro line (12) where you will be. The nearest hoho stop is stop 6 on the orange line near Montparnasse station.

Just curious - is it the "old" that makes you want to take it easy with the hoho (how old is old - I guess it is as old as you feel) or is it the "non-French speaking" that is the problem? If the former, remember that you have the stairs up and down to the top deck, sometimes while moving; if the latter the signs are all very clear and after about 2 new words - correspondance means the way to the other line you want to change to and the sign is orange; and sortie means exit - you need have no further French.

If you want an English language guide telling you that you are passing so and such, perhaps the hoho would help, but so would Rick Steves walking tours.

Posted by
3 posts

I am in my early 60's and my companions in their early 70’s. We are taking a cab to our apartment. My concern is we may get lost and spend a lot of our precious time trying to find where we want to go. Seems easier to take the hohos which will surely go by sights we want to see. We would just have to figure out where the hoho is located and how to get there. Also of concern is our aging knees. We aren't as young as we used to be so don't want to wander aimlessly. So, I guess, my real question is, is it relatively easy to get around in Paris when you don't speak the language and don't have the time or stamina to get lost?

Posted by
2081 posts

Jay,

So, I guess, my real question is, is it relatively easy to get around in Paris when you don't speak the language and don't have the time or stamina to get lost?

i only speak a few words of French at most and they are words for greetings and thank you and such.

but whats nice is that french uses the same alphabet as we do, or is that the other way around? so you an try and pronounce the words/stops and such, but i just try to remember how they are spelled or sound to me. from there its easy. If you used the underground in London, the ones in paris arent that much different. whats nice is that if you missed your stop or on the wrong line, just get off at the next stop and work you way back.

what would concern me about your health/knees is the walking once you get underground. The surface transportation maybe less walking for you all, but it may take more time. lifes a tradeoff and so is travel.

happy trails.

Posted by
16822 posts

You don't need us to validate your decision to use the HOHO bus. I think you should go whole hog and get the 3-day bus+boat. $60 per person through March 31, then $67 from April 1 onward. But don't think of it as public transportation, it sightseeing that let's you on and off at major sights. Start your first day by going to the Volontaires Metro station and buying a Carnet for 13.40 euro. You'll get 10 small paper tickets with a magstrip on one side. You each take one and use it to go through the turnstile and walk down to the platform marked "direction Porte de la Chapelle", get on the first train and get off at Concorde. You can get the Green Line HOHO there and start touring around. It hits most of the sights we think of as Paris. Get on and off as you desire to see one of the spots. At some point toward the end of the day, someone is going to say "I'm beat. Let's go back to the apartment." Now you take out those little Metro tickets and you can be back home in no time. Next day, you'll be a little more confident that it is no big thing. You can find your way on the Metro to one of the other HOHO routes, or take the boat on the river. After 3 days, you'll know Paris like a pro and you can use the Metro tickets to take you right to where you want to go.
You might want to download the Paris-Geo Metro map from RATP (rapid transit Paris). It is easier to understand than those schematic diagram maps.
http://www.ratp.fr/informer/pdf/orienter/f_plan.php?nompdf=metro_geo&loc=secteur&fm=pdf

Posted by
8295 posts

The carnet tickets also work for the busses. If walking and knees are an issue, I'd highly recommend using a bus instead of the Metro. The Metro usually involves a lot of stairs and lots of walking underground. Some stations have escalators but they often don't work.

I also would like to recommend that you learn at least to say Bonjour Madame/Monsieur whenever you approach anyone to speak to them whether it's at an information booth, on the street, a bus driver or, and especially, when entering a shop. And please, always say Merci and AuRevoir Madame/Monsieur when you leave. You will be treated much better if you do those two simple things. The French are wonderful in my experience, but they are formal and value good manners.
Don't worry about being able to speak French in between those two phrases... Parisians are used to tourists and if they can speak English, they will. If they can't, say Merci and find someone that can.

Posted by
14917 posts

First, the Paris metro is easy to use. Second, Paris street traffic can be very, very congested.

I looked at the metro map. You're on Line 12, which will take you to the closest station to the Orsay Museum and to the Place de la Concord (Orangerie Museum, and walk through the Tuileries Gardens to the Louvre - or change to Line 1 and go straight to the Louvre). You can also change trains at Montparnasse to Line 7, to the heart of the Left Bank or one more stop to Cite (Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle). The one problem with the metro is that in many stations, you have to walk up or down a flight of stairs to/from street level. Some have escalators all the way up.

The HOHO bus is a good idea for a round-trip to see the city's monuments.

Lastly, though you don't know French, it is well worth the effort to learn a couple of phrases. Parisians will be much more helpful (whether on the street or in a shop) if you begin by greeting them politely in French. And always add monsieur or madame.