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Paris - Public Transportation Questions

As I am in the process of planning a trip to Paris within the next couple of months, I have been scouting these forums. Specifically, I have read Arvind's trip report that was very educational indeed. But one thing that I need more elaboration on are his references - and also others I read elsewhere on the internet - to Paris metro being tough to navigate. I would appreciate it if you could help me with any (or all) of my questions. For starters, let me ask if the following assumptions based on this map are correct:

  • the map includes not just RERs but also buses and trams
  • none of the metro lines are included (only their terminal points)
  • the connections/transfers that it lists are across modes, i.e., metro to bus, RER to bus etc; but there are some within the same modes as well (at Coulommiers, bus to bus or RER to bus? What about Tournan? both these are towards E/SE of Central Paris)
  • A to C denote the RERs and D onwards are buses; the RERs - for lack of a better word that I can think of - fork along different mini-routes as they go away from Central Paris

I have read about folks complaining about distance to walk from one metro line to another metro line. Is that uniformly true throughout the system, or is it only at a few selected (big?) stations?

Thanks a bundle!

  • Porcupyn
Posted by
8293 posts

parisbytrain.com and tomsguidetoparis,com should be helpful for you.

Posted by
650 posts

I had no problem navigating the metro last month. In fact, I found it quite easy. Also rented velib bikes and biked all over Paris, had no problems finding what we were looking for via the bikes as the river is a good reference point for all major sites from Ile St Louis to Louvre, Eiffel Tower, even biked from the Ile to Arc de Triomphe and back. It was a great way to "see" Paris without being stuck underground.

Posted by
16941 posts

Here is the Paris Metro and RER map. The map you showed is the RER and suburban train map. The Metro system is very dense in central Paris. Seldom more than 3 or 4 blocks from where you want to get to.

Here is the bus map. The "M" with a circle around it shows connections to the Metro stations.

You cannot connect from a bus to the Metro or visa versa with a single ride ticket, but you can with a Mobilus day pass or a weekly Semaine Decouverte pass. You can transfer between RER and Metro as long as you stay within the station. If using a single ride ticket, you need to hang on to it to exit the RER station. That is because the system extends to the suburbs on a zone system. The Metro is a single zone, more or less the city limits of Paris.

Posted by
8293 posts

A friend from Paris once told me you are never more than 500 meters from a metro station. I presume he was right.

Posted by
145 posts

Folks:

Thanks for your quick replies. Please note that I have downloaded and printed other (more detailed) metro area maps. That was not my question. With regard to the map that I linked, I want to specifically understand it better - all of my bullet-point questions are about that map.

With regard to the metro stations, I read somewhere that if you need to transfer from one line to the other, it is not as easy as it appears on the map. That is the reason I am asking the question - yes, I have seen the metro maps and the connections, but they don't tell me how much (or how less) one needs to walk to connect to a different line.

Again, all these questions are just for me to understand the system. We will most likely not be using all the information as we will probably just take a few point-to-point metro trips and walk around Central Paris anyway,

Thanks,
Porcupyn

PS: Sam, I was unable to open the bus map that you shared. I have already seen the other one. :-)

Posted by
8889 posts

Sam, your plan of the métro was OK, but the link you provided for the bus map didn't work for me.

Porcupyn, the map you posted is a map of the suburban / commuter rail network surrounding Paris. It does not show any buses, nor does it show the métro, nor does it show trams. It does show the RER, which is an express suburban network with lines that continue underground under the centre. The RER is also shown on the métro map. The RER lines have letters: A, B, C, D and E. It is the RER you use to get to suburban destinations, for example CDG airport or Versailles.

There maps are all on the RATP (Paris Transport Network) website.

The rules for navigating the métro are simple:

  • The lines are numbered, 1, 2, 3 etc. On the map they have colours, but that is irrelevant and changes from map to map.
  • At the entrance to each station it says which lines it serves, for example "Ligne 1, 5".
  • You need your ticket to open the gates to get into the station.
  • The direction is given by the name of the end station. For example, on line 1 you either need to follow signs "Direction La Défense" or "Direction Château de Vincennes" depending on which way you want to go (see the map).
  • If you have to change lines, look for signs "Correspondence". For example if you have to change to line 2, when you get off your train look for signs "Correspondence Ligne 2", and, depending on which direction, "Direction Porte Dauphine" or "Direction Nation".
  • Sortie = Exit.
  • If you see a sign "Limite de validité de billets" that is the exit to the street. If you want to do "Correspondence", DO NOT go through this door, or you will have to pay again to get back in.

Buses are a lot slower than the métro, but you do get to see where you are going.

Posted by
16941 posts

Yes. The link seems to be broken, but you can find it on the RATP website searching "Maps", then clicking on the bus icon and several links with various maps will appear. Click on the one that has the word "geo" in it and will be a geographic map showing Paris streets. The others are schematics and not to scale and no relation to the streets the buses actually run on.

If stations show long ovals rather than circles, there is some underground walking. Look around the Opera and St Lazaire station and you will see a lot of different stations connected underground. Where lines cross, there will be stairs involved as one line passes above the other. Signage is very good, just remember that it will show the destination station of the line. ex: Changing from the No 14 line at Pyrimides to the No 7, you will see a arrow sign "No 7 La Courneuve", that is the north bound direction. The arrow sign "No 7 Villejuif" is the south bound direction.

One station, Montparnasse Bienvenue, is quite a truck, It even has a moving walkway in one section.

Posted by
7688 posts

i promise there are plenty of places in Paris that are more than 500 metres from a metro station. !!!!

Posted by
672 posts

I think the Paris metro is a very efficient and easy system to use. As far as walking from one metro line to another, it really does depend on the station. But even in a station like Chatelet, which is a big one, I didn't think the distances between metro lines was a very big deal. However, if one has mobility issues, I'm sure they would find it more difficult.

As Chris pointed out, all you need to know is the line number and what the end point is. Just follow those signs and you'll end up on the correct platform.

Posted by
4585 posts

The Paris metro is extremely easy to navigate.... and, if you happened to end up going the wrong direction, it would be no big deal to just get off at the next stop and board the one going the other direction. The stops for each line are also inside the metro above each exit door, so you can count how many stops until you want to exit as it's moving along the line.

The metro map will give you an idea of walking distance between lines. If you see a longer white bar across the metro stop, there's more lines intersecting, so a larger chance of needing to walk farther, i.e. Les Halles (more walking) vs. Concorde (less walking).

Posted by
16941 posts

OK back to your question on the Transilien map. They are all trains. A thru E are RER trains. Letters above that are suburban trains that terminate at various Paris train stations. Those ones generally require a separate ticket.

Posted by
43 posts

If you have ever used a subway system before, then the Paris Metro will be easy to use. My experience is that will only a few exceptions, you are never more than 3-4 blocks from a station. You just need to look harder sometimes because not all station entry areas are obvious.

Don't worry about the RER unless you plan on traveling to the suburban regions. It just adds confusion if you haven't used a subway system before.

If you are traveling to the heart of Paris, the best bus route to use is #69. But, use your maps and see what's perfect for you.

I don't use the Paris Metro Pass, but I do buy an "all use" ticket for however many days I'll be in town. It's done by zones, basically a inner-city and an all area zone, and you pay accordingly. I don't use the buses as a rule because the Metro is so much faster.

Good luck!
Lisa

Posted by
145 posts

Once again, thanks to everyone for your helpful replies. I have got answers to a few questions that I am yet to answer :-) and almost all questions I asked. I am just trying to understand the system - 99% chance I will not be using any of these lines (except RER C, the one with the nicely painted interiors I hope, to Vesailles) - because I am a train fan. Unfortunately, even though I tried google translating some of the terms, they did not help me understand everything. Back to your responses ...

Sam, thanks for the explanation about your map - I have likely come across it already (I have a large version of the metro and a pocket version of it already downloaded and printed). On some of these sites, the portal gets translated to English (or an English version exists) but once I navigate a couple of pages, I am back to a page that is not translated. "Letters above that are suburban trains that terminate at various Paris train stations. Those ones generally require a separate ticket." Yes, I saw N and U lines that were in the SW quadrant. I take it that they go somewhere South west of the Ile de France region.

Lisa: I am quite familiar with only a couple of the metros around the world. 24 years ago, as a grad student, when I had a 12 hour layover in London enroute to India, I traveled the London metro with no google, no internet, no (IIRC) Rick Steves (or his forums). I have traveled the DC metro often. Last year, with my tween son, I spent a few hours in Zurich also on a layover (though most trains there are above ground). So, while I have not traveled around as much as I would want to, I am pretty comfortable with metro system. I really want to understand the transport system in Paris - don't worry, I won't get confused :-)

Jean: "The metro map will give you an idea of walking distance between lines. If you see a longer white bar across the metro stop, there's more lines intersecting, so a larger chance of needing to walk farther, i.e. Les Halles (more walking) vs. Concorde (less walking)." That is what I was assuming but I was seeking confirmation, as none of the sites I visited (including parisbytrain, transilien or RATP) appeared to have this information spelled out. Sam, you explained this as well :-)

Chris F: That was very helpful. To summarize, one can only transfer from train to train (metro to RER) with one t+ ticket. If you want to take a train and then a bus (or the other way around) to reach your destination, you need two t+ tickets (valid for the further region). Do you need to validate your ticket to exit as well? IIRC, in Washington DC and London, you need to do that. In other words, if you enter the subway with a ticket but then lost it, you cannot exit "legally" - is that right?

Appreciate your help,
Porcupyn

Posted by
8889 posts

Porcupyn
Correct, you can change as many times as you like on the métro or the RER on one t+ ticket as long as stay within Paris city boundaries (the light background area on the métro map), and do not leave the station. Most métro lines stop at the Paris city boundary, or only one or two stops afterwards. A bus requires an extra t+ ticket, one per bus ride. That is unless you buy a weekly or longer unlimited travel ticket.

Yes, you do need to keep your métro ticket and use it to get through the ticket barrier at the exit from the station (this is where it says "Limite de validité des billets" = Your ticket is no longer valid past this point).

If you look on the métro map there is a symbol, like stretched S, marked on RER lines. The key in the top left says this symbol means:
RER: au delà de cette limite, en direction de la banlieue, la tarification dépend de la distance. Les tickets t+ ne sont pas valables
= RER: past this limit, heading in the direction of the suburbs, pricing is based on distance. t+ tickets are not valid.

Posted by
145 posts

Chris:

Thanks again - yes, I figured out about what the stretched S meant (with respect to RER). But I was puzzled that a couple of stations were in the 'suburb' direction of that S. I am assuming that those would be treated based on which zone they fall in. In other words, if you have a mobilis pass for zones 1-2, you should be able to board or alight from RER at Vincennes (east side of RER A), right?

Does the TGV at the Disneyland station indicate that the TGV halts there, or something else?

If I want to do some trainfanning (just to look at the out-of-town TGV/ICE/SNCF trains go by relatively fast), would one of the RER stations work or would I have to travel way outside of the map I linked to?

BTW, here is a true anecdote: Last year, when my son and I were in Zurich, we were returning from Rhine Falls. The pocket train schedule that I had picked up earlier in the day appeared to show me that I could get a faster connection if I changed trains at Winterthur. So, we got down at Winterthur and I looked at the big brown boards to see where the train would be that was to be our connection. Then we saw one on the other platform about to depart - we ran and boarded it and got to the Hauptbahnhof on schedule. But to this day I am unsure whether we were really legal on that train with our ZVV pass (my understanding was that any train was good as long as we stayed within Zurich canton) because if I remember right, the train was headed all the way to Geneva.

Thanks,
Porcupyn

Posted by
16941 posts

For the Metro, you can toss the ticket after you enter since it is all one zone, BUT, if you want to change onto the RER, you will need it enter that system and also to exit as there are turnstiles on both the entrance and exit. If you exit inside the Zone 1&2 area (same as covered by the Metro system), no problem. If you venture outside that area, into Zone 3 say, you will have to buy an exit ticket. Normally, for riding in central Paris, just stay in the Metro System. Occasionally the RER will get you closest to your destination than any Metro. ex: my favorite Paris watering hole (home of the Green Bay Packers in Paris) is closest to the RER Luxembourg station. So I need to hang on to my ticket to exit the station.

When you go to Versailles, just go to the ticket window in any Metro station and buy two tickets (going and returning) to Versailles Rive Gauche. They are about 6.25 each if I remember properly. Then you can travel by Metro to a station where there is a connection to the RER C, and that will get you there. They are double decker trains, and none too fancy. Just don't get the two tickets mixed up and use one to enter and the other to exit. You will have cancelled both tickets.

Posted by
8889 posts

Porcupyn
Yes, you are right, stations past the "Stretched S" on the RER lines need a 2 or more zone ticket or pass.
What I can't remember is the rule for métro outside Paris city. I would have to look up in the small print on the RATP website whether a t+ ticket is valid or not.

As for trainspotting.
Geographical map of the railways surrounding Paris: http://www.rff.fr/IMG/pdf/Ile-de-France.pdf
And of the whole of France: http://www.rff.fr/IMG/reseau-existant-2009.pdf
These come from the RFF website, which is the company that owns and maintains the French railway network. An index of maps is here: http://www.rff.fr/en/the-network/maps-of-the-rail-network-275/

There is a TGV line which bypasses Paris, used for through trains from northern to southern France. It goes through, and has stations at, both Charles-de-Gaulle airport and Marne-la-Valée, which is where Disneyland is. I do not know if there are any spots at either of these stations where you can watch them passing through.
If you are content to see TGV's arriving and departing, you can do this at any of The Paris stations where they start and stop from:

  • Gare-du-Nord (here you can also see Eurostar trains to London and Thalys-branded TGV'ŝ to Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne)
  • Gare d'Est (here you can also see German ICE's)
  • Gare de Lyon.

If you have enough time in Paris you can take a day trip to London by Eurostar. There are companies which offer a one day package trip. Early train from Paris, bus tour of London start from St. Pancras station, a few hours free and late train back to Paris.

P.S., Yes, you were legal. There is no surcharge for any train types in Switzerland, it doesn't matter if the train was carrying on to Geneva or even Paris, so long as you got off before it left the ZVV area. If I buy a ticket from Basel to Zürich, it is valid on any train, one that says SBB on the side, or a TGV that started in Paris, or an ICE that started in Berlin. Inside Switzerland SBB ticketing rules apply.

Posted by
145 posts

Chris:

"What I can't remember is the rule for métro outside Paris city. I would have to look up in the small print on the RATP website whether a t+ ticket is valid or not."

Don't bother with that. We will likely stay within zones 1-2 except the day we plan to visit Versailles.

I was just curious about the speeds of the trains within the city limits. We are taking a TGV out of Gare de l'Est so we will experience it first hand :-)

On your regional map, I am assuming that LGV stands for Line Grande Vitesse (i.e., high speed tracks), which starts from Torcy in the east.

Sam:

To visit Versailles, it appears that there is not much difference whether we buy the individual ticket + zone 1-2 pass, or buy the zone 1-4 pass. We will likely go with the latter option.

Thanks once more!

Posted by
8889 posts

Yes, LGV = Ligne à Grande Vitesse = High speed line
On the traditional lines the TGV's are restricted to the same limits as the other trains they are sharing tracks with, up to about 160 Km/Hr (100mph). Once they diverge onto the LGV they open up the throttle. Look out the window at the lineside poles which hold up the overhead wires, and time how often they pass. Once it gets to one per second you are really travelling. When another train comes past in the other direction it is over in a blink, then think how long the train was when you saw it at the station.

Posted by
183 posts

As most people have said the metro is very easy to navigate .have your pocket map with you and look at the final stop on the line you are on then work your way back to the stop you want to get off at .if you get off at the wrong stop find a nearby cafe , enjoy a glass of wine and people watch and enjoy paris !!!!!

Posted by
145 posts

"if you get off at the wrong stop find a nearby cafe , enjoy a glass of wine and people watch and enjoy paris !!!!!"

... or walk and shed some of those unneeded calories ;-)

Posted by
16941 posts

I stand corrected on advice to toss the t+ ticket once you are in the Metro. Legally (and I have never knowingly traveled the Metro in the company of a lawyer) you need to retain your ticket of the event of a ticket inspector asking to see your ticket. My advice of is based on experience of buying a carnet (10 pack of t+ tickets) and forgetting which ones are used and which ones are still valid. After standing at the turnstile and trying various tickets until one finally worked, I got into a bad habit of discarding them immediately.

Our co-respondent, Bets, has pointed out, that old pros tuck their t+ tickets under their watch bands and discard them when they exit the system. thus avoiding the predicament I have often found myself in, a pocketful of t+ tickets and no idea which are valid and which are used.

Posted by
145 posts

Sam:

But I take it that you are absolutely sure that one doesn't need to have a (used) ticket to exit the system - in other words, there are no metro-confined zombies circulating in the Paris underground because they tossed their t+ tickets once they entered the system.

Porcupyn

Posted by
3713 posts

You may feel you have all the maps you need, but I highly recommend Streetwise Paris. We used it constantly on our last trip. It's a compact laminated street map, but it also includes main Metro stop entrance locations and an indication of the lines' routes.

No one mentioned carnets of tickets so far. We used those for Metro and bus. Are they still being sold?

Posted by
16941 posts

@ Porcupyn,

No, the Metro system has no exit tickets required. You just push through the doors marked Sortie. Most actually have a motion detector that opens them as you approach. As I said, the RER system does require a ticket to operate the exit doors.

Posted by
11613 posts

Navigate is certainly the right word. Some stations have long corridors, stairs, multiple levels for different lines. The metro was my least favorite part of Paris, but I prefer to travel above ground even if it takes longer.

Posted by
145 posts

Zoe:

"Navigate is certainly the right word. Some stations have long corridors, stairs, multiple levels for different lines. The metro was my least favorite part of Paris, but I prefer to travel above ground even if it takes longer."

Well, it also depends on one's comfort level with metro systems as well. Did you, for instance, find it much more confusing than the NY subway or the DC metro? And, like others have described above, you might have just (un)lucked out and had to transfer at the specific transfer point that had the most walking involved. Either way, I will find out in a few weeks for myself :-)

Chris:

This reminds me - when my son and I were there last December, we walked across the Zurich Hauptbahnhof searching for platforms 40-something for the SZU. All maps appeared to indicate that the SZU was not exactly Zurich HB, but they skimped in the actual information on how to get from one place to the other. In the end, I figured it out - and had fun walking furiously (fast) across the corridor to get to that little train to take us up to Uetliburg. We had come into Zurich HB from Rumlang which is where we were staying.

Posted by
5262 posts

Porcupyn, you're obviously an experienced straphanger and you'll have no trouble with the Paris Metro, RER, regional trains and whatever. DC Metro is easier than most because it was built in the last 30-40 years and very straightforward. NYC and Paris (and London) more challenging because they were built (at least started) in the 19th century. So, yes, lots of stairs in Paris and some very long walks through tunnels in certain big stations, but still easy to use if you're mobile and not burdened with much luggage.

As for where to discard the Metro ticket, just look for the snowdrift of tickets on the pavement outside the station exit, then look for a trashcan which will be within a few feet. And do discard it, so you don't end up trying to use it again and annoy yourself and everyone behind you in the turnstile line. :-)

We started using buses instead of Metro when my wife started having trouble with stairs. We had used them before as an alternative, when we had time and wanted to see the streets, and they were great. They're still great but inevitably slower than Metro. And it can be hard to locate exactly where a particular bus stops, e.g. Opera, where there's a big circle around the building and your bus might be halfway around it. There are vicinity maps at or near the stops but not everywhere. You just can't be in a hurry using the buses, but it's vacation, right?

As I recall, you can get a transfer slip when you board the bus with your ticket, and that lets you onto a connecting bus within the next 90 minutes (or so?) as long as it's going in the same general direction. You can't use the transfer for a return trip, or a continuing trip, on the same bus line.

Enjoy the TGV. We rode the Thalys (equivalent) from Amsterdam to Paris last year and it was a great experience, puts our pathetic Amtrak to shame. One caution -- I (at least) found it somewhat queasy to sit facing backwards for 3+ hours at high speeds. If you can choose a seat, I'd suggest a forward-facing window.

Have a wonderful trip full of rails! :-)

Posted by
8889 posts

Porcupyn
Ah yes, the underground bit. It helps to have a little German. There are signs which say "Gleis 41-44". The clue is that the platform numbers are a in a different number range.
Same problem at Gare du Nord. The RER is officially platform 41 etc., but is actually 3 levels below the main concourse.
Even London St. Pancras has two underground platforms, called A and B, for Thameslink (the local equivalent of the RER or S-Bahn).

Posted by
784 posts

Please use caution when using your smart phone or even a paper map on the street. Doing so can make you a target for pickpockets or even theft of your phone. Don't stand in the middle of the sidewalk or on a corner, rather stand with your back to a wall and stay alert to what is going on around you. Don't sit at a table right on the edge of a cafe terrace, but rather at the back, and don't leave your phone (or handbag) on the table. There have been reports of people distracting phone users by sticking a sheet of paper between the user and his phone, then snatching the phone. Nothing bad should happen to you if you are alert and take normal precautions.

Posted by
8889 posts

Carolyn,
I think you are being a little over-worried. Tourists are easy to spot anywhere, they're the ones looking at a métro/tube/underground map. Or standing around in the métro/tube/underground station trying to work out where to go and getting in everybody's way. Easy to spot in any big city. By "tourists" I mean visitors from other places in the same country, not just foreign and overseas tourists.
And the locals walk along the road using their phones, and sit in roadside cafés texting, all the time and don't get them stolen.

Posted by
34 posts

@Chris F
The lines are numbered, 1, 2, 3 etc. On the map they have colours, but that is irrelevant and changes from map to map.

I have to disagree, the colours are very relevant. Each metro, bus , tram or RER line has a colour, which is used consistently on RATP maps, signs within the stations and in the trains/buses, timetables and so on. It's really helpful. What you probably mean is that the coulours change on unofficial maps. The RATP maps are patented, so if someone wants to reproduce them in a guidebook for example, they have to change the colours if they don't want to buy the rights. You can get all the official RATP maps, in all formats, at any RATP ticket booth in Metro of RER stations for free. Be sure to always use an official map as it will be accurate and up to date, and don't waste money on any other map. There are mini maps that fit in a wallet, be sure to get one, it's really useful.
Have a nice day,

Rif

Posted by
1680 posts

As metro Line 1 (Château de Vincennes – La Défence) runs at walking distance along most main attractions you can use it as a baseline. For going to Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower you can take resp. line 2 and 6 from station Charles de Gaulle Étoile (Arc de Triomphe). As, with a few exeptions, all other metro lines are connected with Line 1, you can always go back the way that suits you best. Easy to learn and use, so keeping navigating simple and the map more in the pocket, till more familiar with the city layout.

Posted by
145 posts

[this post moved to its own thread]
Here is my plan (please critique):

We are reaching Orly in the evening at about 8 pm and need to get to our host near Michel Bizot metro area. Assuming conditions are favorable enough for that time of the year (temperature upper 30s to low 40s and no slick ice/snow on the ground and it is not raining), I am planning to take bus 183 to Porte de Choisy and then take tram 3a towards our destination. Where exactly does one catch this bus at the airport? I typed in Orly Ouest, and the attached link shows me 12 minutes of walking to Orly Sud. Is walking the only way to get from Orly Ouest to Orly Sud (or do passengers automatically get dumped out at Orly Sud by default)?

Because our teenager counts as an adult, we would be three adults and one kid from RATP's standpoint. I plan to get one carnet apiece of adult and kid t+ tickets. I know we will use three adult t+ tickets and one kid t+ ticket on the tram. What I don't know is whether the t+ ticket can be used on Bus 183 or not - the link I have attached indicates that a separate ticket must be bought for it, but it also says that the ticket is Euro 1.7, so we should be able to use one from the carnet per adult or do we specifically need to buy the separate ticket for the bus?

We are not really much into museums, but we still plan on getting the two museum passes. One of the two full days we are in Paris, the Louvre will be open late into the night. So, for that day, we are planning to get the zone 1-4 mobilis pass and visit Versailles in the morning. In the afternoon, we will come back to city and travel around on the bus/metro/tram whatever and also see a museum or two depending on lines. This is also the day when we will visit Sacre Coeur and taken in the skyline of the city.

The other day, we will use one t+ ticket apiece in each direction. Once we get to the destination stop (most likely the Eiffel Tower first thing in the morning), we will then back-track along the river catching the sights and also visiting a museum or two.

Based on the above, we would be purchasing the following at Orly upon landing:

  • one t+ carnet for kid
  • one t+ carnet for adults
  • four mobilis passes for zone 1-4 (IIRC, there is no distinction between adult and kids here, right?)
  • two museum passes
  • one SIM card for phone calls to call our host

Thanks,
- Porcupyn

Posted by
16941 posts

There are 2 ways to get from Orly West to Orly South. You Can ride the OrlyVal shuttle free between the 2 terminals, or ride the parking lot shuttle bus that goes from Orly West to Orly South before circling through the parking lots.

Posted by
145 posts

Sam:

Thanks - I was unable to find out anywhere whether the Orlyval is free or not between the terminals. Because it is driverless (and probably conductor-less), I thought maybe it is just one ticket whether you go from terminal to terminal or from Orly to Antony or Orly to Paris proper!

If we are planning to go to Versailles from Michel Bizot, which option is faster:

  • take the tram 3a all the way across to Pont du Garigliano then take RER C, or
  • hop off tram 3a at Avenue de France and walk to Francois Mitterand to catch the RER C (and go through the whole of central Paris) to Versailles?

Thanks,
Porcupyn

Posted by
145 posts

For some reason, I thought I had replied the the previous few responses. My bad. I will do so in the next couple of hours (if this one is editable, I will edit this and reply!).

Dick@Olympia: It is a vacation, of course, but it is a compressed vacation. We have been trying to organize a trip for the last couple of years but the direct flights to Europe were over $1300 per person, and we were not really sure of how/where we would store baggage for a good cost-managed way of stopping over in Europe for a week enroute to an India visit. So, plans fell through until I chanced upon a good deal for a Europe flight recently.

Chris: I need to take some time and do a good write-up on our 23 hours in Zurich last year. Will post here or will post a link :-)

Carolyn: Thanks for the warning. We will plan to be alert.

Rif/Chris: Thanks for the info about the metro lines. I will definitely plan to pick up a few copies of the maps and schedules. It is a pity that the wonderfully organized schedule that I picked up at Zurich Flughafen was not available for download and research online - SBB only provides limited information online.

Wil@The Netherlands: That is the plan (see previous reply from me), except that we will probably walk more than use Line 1 for central Paris sightseeing.

Posted by
16941 posts

The fastest, easiest way to Versailles is to take the No 8 Metro from Michel Bizot to Invalides and change to the RER C there. The tram travels the street, stopping for all the lights all the way across south Paris.

Posted by
145 posts

Sam:

I remember reading somewhere that the RER would trump the metro; in that case, my option of taking the tram just across the Seine and immediately getting down to catch the RER at Francois Mitterand/Bibliotheque would be quicker than Metro Line 8 to Invalides, would it not?

Thanks,
Porcupyn

Posted by
16941 posts

Not sure what you mean by trump. If you get a zone 1-4 Mobilus, you just use it to board at Michel Bizot and it is good all the way to Versailles and back (plus anywhere else you want to go inside zones 1 to 4 the rest of the day). They do not even publish a time schedule for the tramway, just a frequency. Fine print (in French) says delays possible due to traffic conditions. The Metro has no such restrictions.
Use the RATP trip planner here.

Posted by
145 posts

I meant trump as in ... wouldn't the RER across town be faster than metro across town?

I used the link you provided and it appears to be very close. So, I do have the option of getting on the RER either east or west of central Paris. What is weird is that the direct route Michel Bizot to Versailles does not display the option of connecting to the RER at Bibliotheque (the fastest I got was 1 hr 11 minutes), but splitting it into two trips gives the fastest travel time but not by much (50 minutes plus 18 minutes)!

Anyway, it will all depend on the exact minute we step out onto the street and which connection we get. All else is just a theoretical exercise in futility ;-)

Thanks once more!!

Posted by
16941 posts

I went through that exercise as well. Leaving at 8:30, I get exactly the same arrival times, meaning you board the same RER train, one way at Bibliotheque, the other way at Invalides. The tram route means walking about 600 meters from the Tram stop to the Bibliotheque RER station although there is a 42 bus that comes by frequently you can get to avoid the walk. More than one way to get there. May just depends if it is raining or how you feel that day. The trip planner doesn't like the Tram. Maybe not predictable enough.

BTW, you might think about splurging on a taxi when you arrive at Orly. It should run about 30 euro for the four of you with luggage. I am not entirely clear if you get a free transfer when you change from the 183 bus to the Tram. I am normally a big fan of taking public transit, but with 4 people and luggage, sometimes it just makes life a whole lot easier. It should get you to your exact destination in about a half hour, instead of riding buses and trams for an hour and a half at night and then you still have to wander around looking for the exact destination.

Posted by
145 posts

Sam:

Yes, the trial and error method is a big turn-off - both the SBB and bahn.de sites do it the same way (I guess it is the same Europe wide).

The one thing I am antsy about taking a taxi is that we could get taken for a ride (literally)! As for the luggage, between the four of us, we are probably going to have four (or three) carryon bags plus one check-in bag.

But yes, the weather is going to be a big factor. I am assuming that the worst case situation would be that we might have to get a taxi from Porte de Choisy (don't know if that is going to be an easy or tough choice).

BTW, I am not expecting to get a transfer ticket - my plan was to use one ticket apiece from the carnet for the tram.

Posted by
145 posts

Yes we are back. No we did not have any issues using the transportation system except the obvious 'lot of walking' bit. One regret is that we did not use the surface transportation as much as we could (should?) have done - in retrospect, I get the feeling that we walked much more than we should have (or would have, if we had stayed on the surface ... but then, we might have gotten lost more often** as well). On the flip side, we did not get lost even once.

On our first evening, we needed to get to La Chapelle area for Indian food. I dared not walk from Gare du Nord to La Chapelle internally. We went from GdN to Barbes Rochechouart then La Chapelle after changing from line 4 to line 2. And we walked back on the surface street as well. By the second evening, when we were in the same area, we had it figured out. We walked internally both ways.

On one station, I did get really puzzled though! We were not getting down from the train, but the signage in the station appears to imply that there was a connection to a line that was not even showing on the paris metro map that is conveniently displayed on all trains. I wonder about that ... unfortunately, I don't remember which line and which station. :-(

Porcupyn

** the second day we were there, I went on an exploratory ride early - before the rest of the family was up and ready. I got down at Chatalet after changing at Bastille. I walked south across the river to the ile de Cite. However, when I tried to find the Cite station, I was unable to find it. So, I had to retrace my steps back to Chatelet to return to Michel Bizot.