The Parisian Metro is one of the oldest and best underground transit systems in the world. It is the second largest in Europe, following London. It contains 14 lines, 380 stations, and takes up 211 kilometers of track. The Metro stations will either say “Metropolitain” or “M” at the entrances. These trains can get you to most major urban locations.
In terms of Metro tickets, you buy a small, white piece of cardboard that costs €1,60. If you want to buy tickets in bulk, you can currently purchase a carnet of 10 tickets for €11,40.
You can transfer anywhere in the Metro lines or into the urban RER using the same ticket. You can use the ticket to transfer from the trains into buses or trams for up to 1.5 hours. The ticket machines usually only work with French credit cards that have a special chip in them, so if you are paying with a foreign credit card, you should buy one from a booth.
Parisian buses have their number indicated clearly on the top. The urban buses have two digits, and the suburban buses have three. The bus stops indicate what bus is stopping there, so they are not too hard to use. Make sure you know your stop, as you will have to push a red button when it is about to come up. You cannot use a ticket from a bus driver to transfer into the Metro, so it’s a better idea to buy a Metro ticket before hand instead. Buses are more used by residents than by tourists, like in most cities.
Most visitors do not know about the Parisian trams, but they are a useful transportation method for people living there. The system just opened in 2006, the first time Paris has had street cars for 70 years. Today, there are four lines. If you are in the southern part of Paris, the T3 line can get you around from east to west. The trams run every 5-7 minutes from 4:50 AM to 11:40 PM. You can buy tickets from automated machines, and validate them on board. There are a few more lines under construction.
The RER stands for Réseau Express Régional. It has five major lines that branch out from the city center. It is a commuter train that is linked in with the Paris Metro. It goes out into the suburbs.
The RER offers quick service for visitors to the Airport, Disneyland and Versailles. The fair is the same as the Paris Metro tickets; €1,60 for 1, €11,40 for 10. If you are heading into the suburbs past the city limits, you will need to pay an extra fair. You must buy a point-to-point ticket, and the fairs for these depend on how far you are traveling. You can usually figure it out using a ticket machine.