Please sign in to post.

What is the best and safest way to get around Paris?

I will be on holiday with my wife and 7 year old daughter and am trying to figure out the best and safest way to navigate the city? Cabs, bus, rail etc. Safety of my family is the highest concern on my list. Thanks!

Posted by
9110 posts

My youngest was running the steets with her brother when she was eight and he was maybe eleven. Eventually she went back for four years at the Sorbonne - - she was seventeen then, I think. My wife wanders around at night by herself, so does my daugher-in-law. After worring about keeping everybody out of traffic, you can pretty well set your mind at ease.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the quick reply. I guess my question was geared more towards after tiring of walking, which my wife & I did A LOT of during the heat wave of 2003, are the buses safe, are the trains safe? Now we are with our 8 year old and I would like to use the trains to go up to Mont Martre or down to Versailles, but just worry about safety in a foreign city. Thanks again.

Posted by
719 posts

Paris is about as safe as it gets. The metro, buses, and certainly cabs are all quite safe. More so than a big city in the states, for sure. You're biggest concern will be pickpockets, but Paris isn't Rome. You'll still want your moneybelts, though. The Metro is an essential Parisien experience, so I encourage you to learn to use it.
Have fun!

Posted by
11294 posts

I'm not sure where you got the idea that Paris is so dangerous to travel around - and if you feel it is that dangerous, why are you going in the first place? Paris is a big European city, with big European city issues. This means that the risk of violent crime is low (MUCH lower than US cities, including Cincinnati), but there will be pickpocketing and scams. The most important thing is to make sure no valuables are within reach of a pickpocket; this means for passports, credit cards, large amounts of cash, smartphones, etc, you want them either in your hotel, or in a moneybelt (a hidden storage place under your clothes - various types available). Then, you can go anywhere, knowing that even if you are pickpocketed, you will only lose the small amount of money you have accessible (like 50 euros or so). Reading my above paragraph, I see even I made it sound more "dangerous" than it is. Rick Steves's book Europe Through The Back Door has a section on scams; once you know what a few of them look like, they're easy to avoid. The basic principle is you have to be unafraid to be "rude." If someone approaches you, ignore them, say "no thanks," whatever it takes - but don't get caught up in stories of dropped "gold" rings, found money, petitions you "need" to sign, etc. Americans are notorious for not wanting to appear "rude" and so they can get taken advantage of. continued..

Posted by
11294 posts

continued.. As for how to get around, read the relevant section in Rick Steves Paris book; he has all the details about how to take the Metro, buses, boats, bikes, taxis, and walking. Walking and the Metro are the two most useful ways for most visitors. The Metro may seem daunting, but most people get the hang of it quickly (particularly with Rick's detailed directions). Buses take more time, but many become fond of them, since you can see where you're going (again, Rick has some suggested routes that are especially handy and/or attractive rides). With three people (especially if you are tired) a taxi can be handy. Just be aware most drivers will not speak English, so have your destination written down (each member of your party should carry a card from your hotel, so you can show it to a cab driver). Cabs cannot be hailed in the street; you either go to the nearest taxi rank (they're all over), or call for one (or have someone call for you, such as a store or restaurant). If you call for a cab, the meter starts running when the driver gets your call, adding a few euros to the fare. Again, except for pickpockets, there are no real "safety" issues about getting around Paris. For what it's worth, the "dangerous" neighborhoods are actually not in the city itself, but in the suburbs. And not places like Versailles, but places nowhere near any tourist attractions.

Posted by
23471 posts

You may need to explain a little more you safety concerns. I sense that you might have a different concept of or concerns about safety than what we are addressing around the issue of theft. Are you concerned about theft, accidents, muggings, kidnappings, etc. ? Personally I think Paris, Rome, London, or anywhere else is perfectly safe AS LONG AS you use a little common sense and street smarts. In Rome I am always more worried about getting hit by a VESPA than a pickpocket.

Posted by
635 posts

I'm not sure when children fares apply so check the RS book or the Paris metro/bus websites. You can get almost anywhere in Paris on either the metro or bus. Last week I was there with someone that had trouble with the metro stairs. With a little research, we mapped a way to get to Montmarte from Rue Cler. It only took one bus transfer to get to Anvers metro stop. As for safety, I've never seen anything that looked the slightest bit unsafe except the traffic. Pickpockets and scammers seem to be the extent of the crime.

Posted by
9110 posts

Kids ten and under ride the metro/bus/rer/funicular at half price - - either on a single ticket or a ten-pack carnet.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks everyone for the replies. I didn't mean to sound as a complete paranoid traveler, rather I was just trying to guage the safetiness of the rail/bus system in Paris? For example, parts of the subway system in New York are fine and parts I wouldn't send an enemy too. While the majority of the subway in Boston is much better than most in my past experiences. I think utilizing the rail/bus system in Paris would not only be helpful but a fun experience for my daughter as well. Thanks again for the past and future replies!!

Posted by
8700 posts

You and your wife can share the tickets from a ten-ticket carnet (€12.70). Buy a carnet reduit (€6.35) for your daughter. Each ticket will be good anywhere the metro goes (some lines end in zone 3) and on the RER in zone 1 (all of central Paris). Each ticket provides unlimited transfers until you exit the system. Each ticket provides for bus transfers up to 90 minutes after boarding the first bus. However, you cannot transfer between metro and bus on one ticket. Tickets are also good on the Montmartre funiculaire that goes to Sacre-Coeur. If you will be in Paris on a weekend, your daughter can save her carnet tickets for weekdays and benefit from buying a one-day zone 1-3 Ticket Jeunes pass for Saturday and/or Sunday. The pass costs €3.55/day. For a zoomable map of the metro and RER system, go here: http://tinyurl.com/6xmvms4.

Posted by
403 posts

I had to smile when I read your post. From my kids' point of view (they have been to Paris 3 times), the metro is THE main tourist attraction in town. Museums-meh. But carrying the map and riding the metro--that's awesome!! I think they'd spend all day just riding around if we let them. Trains and metro are very safe and well organized. Be sensible, of course, but don't be afraid. Riding a speeding, honking Paris taxi is much more terrifying!

Posted by
893 posts

I've taken my kids to Paris many, many times. You'll have two adults to one child, and I've had three children to just me. Never felt unsafe. (Never been out past around 10pm, so can't speak about whether I'd feel safe 24 hours/day there) The Metro is so safe my kids have ridden it without me. By accident. Which brings me to the one safety issue that I think is a concern: have a plan for what to do if you get separated and your daughter is either on the car without you, or left behind. (and FYI on our rules: Kids on the metro without parent - get off next stop, stay in place in front of doors where you exited and wait for parent to come get you. Kids left behind while parent is on metro - stay in place until parent comes to get you)

Posted by
1986 posts

re Angela's comment re the Metro being an attraction for her kids. The short funicular up to Sacre Couer and Montmartre is really fun. A unique experience I have roamed around the tourist areas of paris at night and never felt unsafe. And Metro is really easy and convenient

Posted by
65 posts

Skip, We are preparing to return to Paris with our 4-yr-old. This will be her 3rd trip. We have had no issue with buses or trains. We enjoy walking but with a young one sometimes rest is a must! We even have a stroller to lug around and have found people to be most helpful. I think the only time Ive been scared is in a cab -aggressive driving :) After a couple times on and off mass transportation it will become second nature!
Enjoy!

Posted by
1837 posts

You might find the Paris Rough Guide map handy because it shows major tourist bus routes and the locations of taxi stands. Amazon sells it for about $9.00. We used ours constantly on our last Paris trip.

Posted by
6670 posts

Also consider using the buses. They take longer than the Metro but you get to see more on the way. The same tickets work on them and the Metro, so you can buy your carnets and use them on either (but not both on the same ticket). Much safer and cheaper than taxis. I agree with others that pickpockets and traffic are the biggest hazards in Paris, at least the parts of it that tourists frequent.

Posted by
227 posts

My husband and I are in our early 60's and pretty fit - we only use the metro and buses....not even a cab to/from airport. If you have an iphone, there is a wonderful app called "Zuti". It costs between 1.99-2.99. You punch in where you are and where you want to go then "bingo" up pops your directions. Or you can just tap on the metro "dot" on the map. Best part of all - it's OFF LINE! We used this app last year and the year before in Paris and have only had to install 2-3 updates. We have also used Zuti Rome and London. Zuti is available for Boston, tokyo, barcelona, chicago, and washington.

Posted by
11507 posts

Skip, I can't fathom getting to Versailles any other way then RER( suburban train) a taxi would be insanely expensive , and a bus tour would be a bad idea with a child. Like Dina, I have visited Paris alone with my kids,, no other adult so of course I feel safe and am just as concerned as you would be, likely more since I am not a grown man but a shrimpy woman. If you are paranoid about metro, then take buses, they are generally filled with young mothers( easier to take strollers on board) and old people ( avoiding metro stairs) so pretty darn safe, lol A slight correction, a taxi can be hailed from the street BUT not if you are within so many meters of a Taxi stand( I think it was 100 meters, not sure) as they are only allowed to to street pick ups if a certain distance from stands. I recommend only taking Taxi Parisien, and they are at the stands, I also suggest that calling one to you by phone can add an extra 3-5 euros on the meter before they get to you as they are allowed to turn meter on soon as they get the call to go to you, not from when you enter taxi.