You don’t need some dinky blog to tell you that Paris is hands down one of the most incredible cities on Earth. Sure I’ve heard people complain now and then about the rude French, the dirty city, the risk of pickpockets. Blah, blah, blah. I’ve never experienced any of this in person and all I have to say is get yourself there ASAP.
While you’re there, here’s how to zip around:
1. Buy an unlimited metro pass. The metro is massive and very easy to use. You’ll have to buy your unlimited pass online more than 14 days in advance and go pick it up in person at the designated info shop. It’s a tiny little ticket so don’t lose it (this has happened to me and it is so not fun and your husband will be mad at you and try to tell you profiteroles aren’t breakfast food). You can get a 1, 2, 3, or 5 consecutive day pass and you can do zones 1-3 or 1-5, but zones 1-3 should be enough for 95% of tourists.
2. If you don’t go the unlimited route, you can buy single or 10 pack tickets in the metro station. Go the the ticket machine, scroll down the the British flag to change the language to English. Each little ticket is good for one ride, including any line changes you make while still underground. Once you get to your station, follow the green “Sortie” signs toward the exit.
3. Download a metro map when you have wifi, or pick up a paper copy at any tourist info booth. The metro is really easy to understand once you get how to read it. Each line is a different color, and the lines will be labeled with their number and the color. Follow those signs until you get to the platform, where you’ll choose the left or right side based on which direction you’re going. The placards at the entrance to the platforms will list all the stops so you’ll know which side to stand on.
4. Other transportation options include buses, RER trains (which you’d take to get out to Versailles or to CDG Airport), and taxis. Most city buses don’t allow food or drinks on board, so don’t let yourself get yelled at in French. Taxis aren’t easy to hail, they have to be pre-booked or caught from a designated taxi stand. If you’re around the city late at night, you can pop into a hotel and ask the doorman to call one for you. There also Uber, but if you do go the cab route, pay in cash to avoid frustration.
5. WALK! To me, this is by far the best way to get around. Paris is a walkers haven, there’s always something to see, always a hidden gem around the corner. You can window shop, pet the cute puppies (they say the French treats their dogs better than their humans), people watch, snap photos, and get a real feel of the city. A few of the many walkable areas: Pont Alexandre III bridge, Le Marais, Boulevard Saint-Germain, the hilly streets of Montmartre, Jardin du Luxembourg, and (if you really feel like you just have to see it) the crowded Champs-Élysées.
Tell me, what’s your favorite Parisian arrondissement?