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How to Use the Paris Metro Even if You Don’t Speak French

Paris has an extensive public transportation system, known as the Metro, that can help you get around the city efficiently and affordably. It’s the best way to get around Paris!

Unfortunately, the Paris Metro can be confusing and overwhelming to figure out. But no worries, I’ve mastered it for you!

From figuring out where to go, which tickets to use and how to navigate the stations, here is my guide on getting around Paris on the Metro – even if you don’t speak French.

How to buy Metro tickets

Landscape view of the outside of the Gare du Nord train station.

Now that you know where you’re going thanks to the Next Stop Paris app, it’s time to figure out which kind of ticket to get.

While the ticket kiosks offer multiple languages, including English, the user interface wasn’t very intuitive.

The ticket kiosks also had too many options to sort through without much explanation of what each ticket provided.

Thankfully I did some research about Paris Metro and train tickets before my trip, so I knew which type of passes to consider.

Buying Metro tickets in Paris had me super confused at first. But stick with me and I’ll help you figure out which ticket to buy.

Paris Metro zones

Portrait shot of a hilly street in Montmartre, Paris, France with colorful buildings, such as white, pink, and yellow.

Before you buy a Paris Metro pass, figure out which zones you’ll need access to based on your itinerary.

The Metro passes are based on zones. Zones 1-3 cover the entire city of Paris, while zones 4-5 include the suburbs.

The more zones you need access to, the higher the cost of the pass.

The center of Paris is Zone 1. Zone 1 includes most of the big tourist attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay.

You can also get to the popular Montmartre neighborhood within Zone 1.

Zones 2 and 3 don’t have much in the way of tourist attractions. In Zone 2 is the Stade de France, the national sports stadium of France, and the Chateau de Vincennes. In Zone 3 is La Grande Arche de la Défense.

If you plan to visit the Château de Versailles, or travel to and from Orly Airport, you’ll want a pass that includes Zone 4.

Lastly, Zone 5 is where Charles de Gaulle airport, Château de Fontainebleau, and Disneyland Paris are located.

Paris Metro passes

Now that you have an idea of which zones you’ll want access to, let’s go over the types of passes that are available.

One way ride ticket

If you’re only traveling within Zone 1, which covers the center of Paris where most tourist attractions are, a single ticket will work. These are called t+ tickets.

A t+ ticket is for a single one way trip. You can buy them one at a time for 1.90€ or a card of 10 tickets for 14.90€. Prices valid as of October 2018.

Frankly, I find the one way tickets to be a waste of time and money.

This is especially true if you’re new to using the Paris Metro system and more likely to go in the wrong direction once or twice, wasting a ticket.

Skip the t+ tickets and get a Mobilis ticket, Paris Visite pass, or Navigo pass instead.

Only need a Paris Metro day pass? Get a Mobilis ticket.

Portrait view of the Eiffel Tower from a nearby side street.

The Paris Metro day pass is known as a Mobilis ticket. It gives you unlimited rides on the Paris Metro for 1 day.

As of October 2018, a Mobilis ticket costs anywhere from 7.50€ for rides between 2 zones to 17.80€ for rides between all 5 zones.

Need a pass for more than 1 day? Get the Paris Visite pass.

The Paris Visite pass is available for zones 1-3 or 1-5. It can be bought in 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive day increments.

You definitely want to figure out where you plan to go before buying your card so that you know whether you’ll need to travel outside zone 3.

The more days and more zones you need, the higher the price will be.

For example, a 5 day pass for zones 1-3 will cost you 38.35€ for an adult pass, while a 5 day pass for zones 1-5 will cost you 65.80€. Prices valid as of October 2018.

Need a pass for a full week? Get the Navigo pass.

Portrait view of a Parisian neighborhood with a Metro station in the background.

The Paris Metro weekly pass, aka Navigo pass, covers all 5 zones and costs much less than the Paris Visite pass.

The only limitation is that coverage doesn’t necessarily start when you want it to. It only starts on Mondays and covers through Sunday.

If you are a resident and employed within the Paris region, you can get a reusable Navigo card for free, but you still must pay for your weekly or monthly pass.

For non-residents, aka tourists, you can pay 5€ for a reusable card and then fill it up as needed.

You’ll also need a small passport sized photograph to attach to the card. If you don’t have one, many of the larger Paris Metro stations have photo booths where you can get a photo taken.

As of October 2018, the Navigo pass can be refilled each week for 22.80€ or each month for 75.20€. The price is the same regardless of whether you’re a resident or tourist.

There is often confusion over whether tourists can use Navigo cards, but I can confirm that it is possible.

How do I know this for sure? This is the option I went with on my most recent trip to Paris and will again in the future, as it’s very budget friendly!

Easily navigate the city with this app

Screenshot of directions to Chateau de Versailles via Paris RER train.

The Paris transit system has 303 stations across 16 lines. It includes the metro (a rapid transit system within the city), the RER (a rail system that reaches outside the city), and a public bus system.

In short, Paris’ transit system can take you to all the major tourist attractions in Paris, as well as many outside the city, such as the Château de Versailles and Disneyland Paris.

So how does one learn how to use the Paris metro map to figure out how to get to where you want to go?

Easy! Download the free Paris Metro route planner app, aka the Next Stop Paris app.

The Next Stop Paris app can tell you how you can get from point A to point B, even if you don’t know which stop you’re going to.

Just tap in the address or popular destination and it will decide the route for you, including which stops to take. Sometimes it will give you more than one option, too.

The app works offline, so if you don’t have data turned on or access to wifi you can still use it. The app has settings for 10 different languages, including English.

Did I mention it’s FREE??

Don’t bother with staring at the massive maps posted in the stations, the Next Stop Paris app is a better way to help you learn how to use the Paris metro.

Psst… The Next Stop Paris app isn’t the only helpful app for travelers in Paris. Check out my post on the best Paris travel apps for more recommendations.

My top tips on how to use the Paris Metro

A Paris Metro train pulls into a train station while a few people wait to board.

Now that you’ve got your Next Stop Paris app and Paris Metro pass, it’s time to test your skills on how to use the Paris Metro!

Tap your start and end points into the Next Stop Paris app.

You’ll notice that the app tells you which direction your train is heading. For example, you might take the RER-C train toward Versailles-Rive Gauche to get to Château de Versailles.

The stations are well-marked, so just look for the train line and direction sign on the walls. These signs will tell you where you need to go to get on the right train.

Lastly, to exit a station, look for the sign that says Sortie and walk in the direction of the arrow.

Using the Paris Metro can be a little overwhelming the first time or few, especially if it is busy in the train station. But with these tips, I promise you will quickly get the hang of it.

Now it’s time to take a day trip from Paris by train or tick off the attractions from your Paris bucket list!

Are you ready to explore Paris on the metro?

I hope you found this post helpful and that getting around Paris on the Metro is a breeze.

Be sure to leave a comment to let me know how your trip went or if you have further questions.

This post was originally published on February 11, 2017. It was last updated on October 16, 2022.


Sunday 2nd of December 2018

I wish I read that before I went to Paris, but I was happy with my choice: I actually used the canet of 10 t+ tickets, it is by far the cheapest as you can walk most tourist attractions and I used 2-3 tickets one day (max. 4.50€), and even though I agree the metro system can be confusing, as long as you do not leave the station the ticket is still valid, so you do not need to waste tickets... Sometimes if you change at one station you just have to enter the ticket again if needed. It worked fine for me :-) thanks for your blog!

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