When arriving in a new city, we are usually eager to visit everything, taste as many different meals as possible and fill our days with numerous exciting activities. But when the city is large, crowded and has a thick and complicated network of public transportation, it becomes very easy to get lost or to spend a lot of time stuck in the subway or the bus, unable to go where you want and to start visiting. This is why it can be useful to learn a few things about Paris’s means of transportation.
You will probably have noticed that the Métro is by far the most developed mean of public transportation in Paris. Built during the first half of the XXth century (the very first station was built in 1900 just before the beginning of the World’s fair) it is today composed of more than 300 stations and 220 kilometres of railway. These figures make it easier to understand why it is the second busiest subway in Europe (after Moscow’s) and why it has been ranked in 2016 as the world’s best public transportation system by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. But this impressive amount of stops may make it a little difficult to understand at first and it is not that simple to find the shortest and easiest way to navigate between its 16 lines.
To help you with that, you can very easily find Métro-maps at the information desk of some stations or in tourist offices ; there is also the official website of the RATP which is the company that runs most means of transportation in Paris, accessible in several languages, where you can find the answers to all the questions you could have about the price of the tickets, the most economical way of travelling through the city and the itineraries you should use. Most of the time, you will be able to go from one point of the city to the other without changing lines more than once and relatively fast.
Keep in mind that the average distance between two stations is about 500meters and therefore, it is often quicker to walk a little more than to take the Métro for only a couple of stations.
But even though the Métro can be very useful, if you have time and that you want to see a more of the city, you may prefer to use other means of transportation such as the Bus, which may be a little slower but has the very interesting asset of enabling you to see the streets while travelling. If you are visiting the centre of Paris for example (around Châtelet, l’Île de la Cité or Le Louvre), the Bus is a good way to take a look at the beautiful architecture and the wonderful views without having to walk too much. Furthermore, even if you may have to wait longer for your bus than for your Métro, it is usually less crowded and therefore easier to sit or, at least, you wont be stuck in an overcrowded wagon. Here again, there are very numerous lines and it is a good idea to have a map with you or at least to know what bus you will take to go to your destination.
The asset of Paris’s public transports is that it is so dense that you can decide to walk freely without the fear of getting lost, for you will always come across a station at some point and be able to go back to your place ; a useful tool when visiting the city !
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