Transform your trip to the City of Light by exploring the Paris transport network.
Along with London, New York and a few other global cities, Paris is a must-see destination regardless of your interests. Everybody is either desperate to visit or desperate to go back. But despite its enviable reputation as a hotspot for culture, shopping, architecture, nightlife and sport, the prospect of visiting a capital city can be daunting - especially if you don't speak the language or aren't used to getting around this urban area.
Not only is Paris one of the most interesting and beautiful cities in the world - it's also one of the easiest to navigate. Getting around in Paris requires nothing more than a Paris Visite pass, this is a metro map which gives you an idea of where you want to go. Whether you're looking for high fashion in St-Germain, street culture in the Marais or an incredible view from Montmartre, the Paris public transport network will be your first port of call.
Getting a ticket
For people visiting Paris the best option is a Paris Visite pass, which is either available online or from train or Metro stations. These offer unlimited travel in either Zones 1-3 (central Paris and the inner suburbs) or Zones 1-5 (for those wishing to head further afield or travel to the airport). You can choose a pass valid for 1, 2, 3 or 5 days to suit your stay. If you're planning a longer and more travel-intensive trip, the Navigo card grants you unlimited travel for either a week or a month - prices start at approximately €20, plus €5 for the card itself, and you'll also need a passport-sized photograph
Ways to travel in Paris
Like the London Underground, the Paris Metro network is formed of underground train lines that criss-cross the city. Unlike the London Underground, the Metro is fast, cheap and uncomplicated, making it the perfect option for savvy travellers.
Composed of fourteen main lines and two small branch lines, the Paris Metro map is surprisingly easy to follow. Each line is simply numbered, and the direction of travel is described by the terminus towards which the train is travelling. Many of the stations are worth a visit in themselves - the Jules Verne-inspired Arts et Métiers, with its gleaming brass and rivets, is especially memorable.
There are fifty-eight bus lines operating in Paris, and with the recent introduction of new bus-only lanes on many of the city's busier roads it's a very convenient way to travel. Most bus services run from around 5:45am until 12:30am, with a few night buses covering the early morning. Generally speaking, it's best to be within walking distance of your hotel by midnight if you're relying on public transport.
If you prefer a little privacy while getting around Paris, look no further. The city has more than 15,000 taxis, and with journeys costing around €1/km (depending on time of day) it's an inexpensive way to explore Paris. You can easily spot available taxis when the roof light is switched on and when travelling this light is then dimmed; go ahead and hail one, or ask the reception staff at your hotel to call a taxi firm if you prefer. If you're out and about and can't see a free car, the central taxi switchboard (+33 (0)1 45 30 30 30) is available 24 hours a day.
If you're staying in an outlying district or fancy getting out of central Paris, the RER network runs larger trains deep into the suburbs. There are five lines named A to E, all of which connect up with the Metro once you're back in the centre. A, B and D all pass through the busy central station of Châtelet - Les Halles, which is a useful starting point if you're planning a Metro journey once you get to town.
Paris is perfect for cycling, and the popular Vélib scheme means you don't have to worry about fitting bicycles onto your roofrack. Vélib, which inspired the similar cycle hire scheme in London, lets you pick up a sleek, unisex three-speed bike from one of hundreds of plug-in points, ride it to your destination and drop it off for the next rider. The first 30 minutes of each journey are free, but if you're planning on riding a lot then a one day pass is just €1.70 and a weekly pass is €8.
Top Paris sights to visit by public transport
Musée du Louvre
Home to France's masterpieces, the Louvre is one of the most richly endowed museums on earth. You can fight through the crowds around the glass pyramid in the Cour Carrée - or travel by Metro and skip straight into the heart of the museum. Head to the Palais Royal Musé du Louvre stop (lines 1 and 7) and you'll see a passageway leading directly to the palace - no crowd-dodging necessary.
If you're feeling energetic, the hill leading to one of Paris' most memorable churches has more than 300 steps - it's the perfect way to justify a glass of beer or a cappuccino at the summit. Otherwise, hop on the Montmartre funicular railway to speed up to the Sacré-Coeur in under a minute, enjoying the view as you climb. Any Paris travelcard will cover your journey.
Eiffel Tower, Pont de l'Alma, Place de la Concorde...
If you fancy feeling like a real Parisian for an hour or so, catch the 42 bus towards Gare du Nord from the Eiffel Tower. It's a fraction of the cost of a tourist coach tour, and passes by many of Paris' most memorable sights. Keep an eye out for haute couture on Avenue Montaigne, the perfectly appointed Tuileries gardens and the gold statues atop the Opéra.
The French Connection
Paris is an incredibly well-connected city; but if having the flexibility to make your own plans is important to you, then the ease and accessibility of Eurotunnel Le Shuttle make it an ideal choice. It takes just 35 minutes to transport you and your car from Folkestone to Calais, which is less than three hours from Paris by car. Simply take the A16 autoroute, conveniently located less than two miles from the Eurotunnel terminal, and follow it all the way to the outskirts of Paris. On your way you'll pass through the idyllic Caps et Marais d'Opale natural park and the cathedral city of Amiens - there's plenty to see, don't forget that Paris is waiting for you!