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Spring Break in Paris. Confused by transportation systems, any tips? TIA

So the wife and I just booked our spring break trip to Paris. A bit short notice so I'm trying to learn as much French as possible and research my butt off so as not to sink out there. However the transportation systems seem to confuse me a bit. We are arriving at CDG and staying at the Lenox Monparasse Hotel so I understand we are to take the RER B from CDG but thereafter its a bit murky. We plan to visit the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Musee d'Orsay, boat the Seine River, etc. We will be in town a total of 5 days, which train tickets should we purchase and which bus tickets would be most useful for what we intend to do? Any extra tips, tricks, things to be aware of, hidden gem suggestions are more than appreciated of course! Thanks in advance!!

Posted by
776 posts

If you're coming from a long flight people generally recommend that you skip the RER and take a taxi to your hotel. Taxis at CDG are available at the taxi stand just outside the exit, are well labeled and have a fixed fare into Paris. 50 E for the right bank, 55E for the left. People coming tired or jet lagged from long flights, not used to the city, not sure of where they're going are easy for bad guys to target, and they do. Your hotel is on metro #4 which is good for Paris central and given the location, you'll probably do a lot of walking.

Posted by
1878 posts

It should be easy to connect from the RER to the Paris Metro--get a guidebook with a metro map if you don't already have one. A "carnet" of 10 metro tickets is a good deal, or at least was the last time I visited Paris in 2010. For stay of this duration, definitely consider a Paris museum pass. It gives you the freedom to just pop in for short visits to smaller museums, and lets you skip lines. From reading your inquiry, seems as if you have just been researching on the internet--definitely get a guidebook which will answer many questions.

Posted by
3324 posts

The RER B is a suburban transit line like, for example the LIRR in New York, that connects the suburbs and Paris. Most travelers, and you would fall into this group, will have to change to the metro system to get to their hotels. The metro system and the RER system are integrated within Paris so you would buy one ticket at CDG and then change to the metro to get to the hotel. All of that being said, to get to the Lenox Montparnasse hotel, I would take Le Bus Direct Route 4 to Gare Montparnasse for 17€ per person and walk 10 minutes from there to my hotel -- lots of benefits to that IMO such as no need to make a transfer and move your luggage around and no need to worry about pick pockets. Actually, I'd take a taxi for the flat rate of 55€ but I offer up the other options because you seem to be leaning towards mass transit for your transfer from CDG to Paris. Depending on the day that you arrive and if you want to take the RER into Paris and to the airport from Paris, you may want to consider the Navigo Pass ( but I think that for five days and with the places that you plan to see, a carnet or two of metro tickets should serve you well for time in Paris. A carnet is a pack of 10 tickets sold at a discount. If you want to get the Navigo, you will need a small picture and an additional 5€ for the initial card.

Posted by
20 posts

Sounds like you are a newbie to Paris. Just grab a taxi at the airport, for heaven's sake! Simple and safe - I guarantee your wife will appreciate it. Get off the plane and get some euros from an ATM in the airport and get in the taxi line outside. Suggest writing down the name of the hotel and address on a slip of paper and hand it to the driver. Once settled, the hotel staff should be able to help you navigate the city. Have fun!

Posted by
18011 posts

One thing about the Navigo Decouverte. It is a one week pass that always starts on Monday morning. So if you arrive on a Monday, it works great. But if your visit spans a week end, then it won't work, because you would need one those goes through Sunday night and then another on starting Monday and that kills its economics.

I love tearing around Paris on the Metro. Its a great public transport system.

Posted by
831 posts

Take a taxi to your hotel. It's more expensive than the train/Metro/walk option, but it completes your arrival easily and without issue.
For Seine sightseeing, Batobus is worth considering - a hop-on hop-off water taxi that loops around 9 stops on the river - a nice way to arrive at The Louvre or Notre Dame. An all day pass is 17 Euro.
Check museum times - consider passes (there are many) but give yourself leisure time to stroll around with no agenda at all.
It ain't called "The City of Light" for nuthin'.

Posted by
914 posts

Le Bus Direct line 4 travels from CDG to Gare Montparnasse. It looks like your hotel is walkable from Gare Montparnasse (train station). These Le Bus Direct (formerly called Les Cars) buses are over the road style coaches with luggage storage and limited stops—not a city bus.

I would look at either a taxi (official taxi from the
Airport Taxi rank) or the bus like I mentioned, particularly if this is your first time, you’re jet-lagged and you have luggage.

Have fun!

Posted by
18 posts

I love having the Navigo Decouverte, of course the value depends on when you arrive as mentioned above. But it does cover your train/metro to and from the airport. We also used it to go to Versailles. It's just nice having the freedom to go wherever you want, make mistakes, etc. As long as you don't have too much luggage, I'd rather save the cab fare from the airport for something else. There really aren't that many cities where you have such a cheap option to get to town from the airport.

When we went last October we couldn't check in to our hotel before 3 but dropped off our bags and did the Bus 69 "tour" from Rick Steves' Paris book (there was a stop nearby). I know people on this forum don't think much of it but it worked out well for us around 1 in the afternoon as the bus wasn't crowded and we could all get window seats. Nice to sit and relax and look at the sites when we were tired.

We did a few walking tours through Discover Walks and Free City Tours and in a couple cases the guides offered to help people learn how to use the metro.

You can check out suggested transportation routings on the website .

Posted by
8630 posts

Depending on how many days you're going to be in Paris, you could consider buying the Paris Museum Pass, which will help not only save money, but also help you skip the long lines for museums. Information here.

If you don't think you'll go to enough museums to make that worth it, you can always buy individual tickets for the museums you DO want to see ahead of time online and print them out and bring them with you. Especially important for the Musée d'Orsay.

Be sure to check out what days the sites you want to see are CLOSED. it's no fun to show up somewhere on the day that it's closed, and you're leaving the next day.

You probably would do well to get the Rick Steves Paris book -- it will be a real help for you in understanding how to get around the city, how to budget your time and money, how things work, etc (no I don't work for Rick Steves, just someone who sees the value in what he and his team do). You've spent how many thousands of dollars on air tickets and hotel -- spend a few more dollars for a good guidebook that will help you enjoy your time there.

Posted by
8293 posts

Another website you may find helpful is

Posted by
442 posts

Do check out the website that Mary mentioned. You can plug in start and end points and it will give you options for metro, bus, train plus travel times.
From personal experience in fall 2016 we found the metro quick and very easy to use from the 9th arrondissement for 4 days. We bought a carnet of tickets each and then a few more singles.

Am planning to do the same for a 5 day spring break trip with my sister in March.
Also second the opinion for taxi to and from the airport. Convenient
Ditto for the Paris Museum Pass. Use it's website to see closed days and late open hours to plan your itinerary. You can likely get by with a 4 day pass but a 6 day is only 12 euro more.
Have a wonderful trip

Posted by
13820 posts


If you are new to Paris, I would recommend taking a taxi. In Jan 2007 I took the only winter trip of a few days to Paris flying from SFO to CDG, non-stop Air France, took the RER B, which ends at Gare du Nord, which normally is where I stay in a two star hotel.

However, this time we were staying at a hotel somewhere close to the Eiffel Tower, which meant transferring from Nord to that Metro station (don't recall it anymore). We stood in line to get the Metro tickets at Nord, got on the Metro luggage in tow to reach the hotel after a four block walk from the closest Metro station. All brand for me since I had only been in Paris in the summer.

There is a set price from CDG to the city, take the taxi. You can figure out the Metro system at the hotel.

Posted by
4125 posts

Re "people generally recommend that you skip the RER and take a taxi": Not me. In this case I'd suggest Le Bus Direct or the RER; the latter entails a single transfer to Metro Line 4, direction Mairie de Montrouge.

General suggestions: Buy a good guidebook, and use it to plan in advance as well as on the ground. The museum pass (not the visite pass) is a tremendous value; buy it in Paris or at the airport. The more walking you can do the day of your arrival, the quicker you will get over jet lag.

Many gems, hidden and otherwise, but it depends on what you like and we do not know that. But, don't skip the parks.

Posted by
11 posts

Amazing tips and advice!! Thank you all very, very much for your input! Used this website for our trip to Italy and will continue for as long as we're able to travel! God bless and thanks again!!

Posted by
7760 posts

We stayed at that hotel in 2015. We took the RER to the Denfert-Rochereau stop, and walked from there. It was not a short walk, but doable, with a good map (head in the direction of the Montparnasse Tower, which is hard to miss). confusing and as you may have found out, there is a difference between RER and the Metro, even if they share stations. The RER also has a couple of different routes, so choose the right one. The Paris-by-train website is very helpful, with step-by-step instructions of how to get to the RER station at the airport. But if its a first time, and you're concerned, I'd take a taxi as well.

Posted by
3762 posts

I can't speak for the OP but I would NEVER choose to take a taxi from CDG given that it's €55 one way and I would be traveling on my own. That money could go toward the Paris Museum pass which I think is a much better way to spend limited travel funds than a taxi ride.

Posted by
33 posts

I will be in a similar situation with a party of 4--will the taxi take 4 people for a flat fee also? Thanks, Cynthia

Posted by
3324 posts

I travel in my family of four to Paris and we have no problem with taxis for the four of us plus our luggage. Granted we travel pretty lightly luggage wise but if you have a lot of luggage, the dispatcher will put the group in a minivan taxi which should be fine.

Posted by
9 posts

It all depends on how adventurous you wish to be. The RER and Metro can be done from the airport, and is a lot of fun in my opinion. The first time will be a bit confusing, but you have to start eventually right.

Two tips:
1. Take the express RER from the airport, not the local! The RER passes through some, well, interesting neighborhoods, and you might not feel completely comfortable with the crowds. Just look at the schedule and hop on the train that doesn't stop at most of the stations. Even if you have to wait at the CDG train station a little bit
2. When planning your route on the RER or the Metro, always note the last station in the direction you're going. All of the signs will reference that last stop. This is to make sure you don't go the wrong way!

Enjoy the trip.

Posted by
12077 posts

Will you have a smart phone? When I visit I take my unlocked phone and buy a local SIM card. If you will have a phone with a smart card the RATP app works really well. If you don't have access to a SIM, use WiFi to plan your route using RATP before you leave your lodging then just follow that. The app shows walking maps to metro, times, lines, connections and a walking map at the other end to get where you are going. Buy metro carnets as needed and share them.

I also use the RER B to get downtown. It's a special ticket (but looks just like a metro ticket). It will get you into the area. If you can't walk from the RER, you will need another metro ticket from there. One metro ticket gets you from start to finish in Paris. Keep your ticket handy for connection ticket machines and metro personnel (who check tickets fairly regularly). My technique is to keep a supply of tickets in my left pocket and the current ticket in my right pocket. As soon as I'm done with the ticket, I trash it right away to avoid confusion with my good tickets.

I've had nothing but bad experiences with taxis in Paris, really only a few rides, the driver seemed to have less idea where to go than I did, plus you're in all the traffic.

Buying tickets can be a little confusing, starting with the automated RER machines at CDG. The first time the machine always seems to reject my card. If you ignore the rejection and/or try again, it seems you always end up with your ticket. The metro machines seem to be a little more predictable, when they work. I've found random machines seem to be out of order without actually saying so. If you have a problem, try a nearby machine. Same for gates, there are always a few that aren't working - just try another one (make sure you aren't using an old ticket).

After one or two trips, it will get easy quickly. On the RER into town keep a close eye on your stuff. I've never had a problem but there are supposed to be thieves. I travel very light with only a shoulder bag, I expect they prefer to target people who are trying to keep track of a lot of items.

Posted by
15 posts

From the airport and to the airport as well, my wife and I arrange for a shuttle to pick us and deliver us right to our hotel (or in our case) apartment. It costs about 50 euro, but it's really convenient, especially returning to the airport. Just google Paris airport shuttle.

Posted by
11294 posts

" If you can't walk from the RER, you will need another metro ticket from there."

This is INCORRECT. If you take the RER from the airport, as long as you change to the Metro inside a station without leaving the system, you can use one ticket for the whole journey. You will need to re-insert your ticket when changing from the RER to the Metro, so keep it handy and un-crumpled.

"One metro ticket gets you from start to finish in Paris."

This is CORRECT, as long as you change inside a station without leaving the system.

Posted by
12077 posts

Harold, I know it's supposed to be that way but personal experience has always left me using an additional metro ticket to connect - even though I never went outside. It could be that I'm buying a 10 euro ticket into town rather than specifying a ticket to my destination station?