Best Maps & Websites for Directions in Paris: Métro, Bus, RER
by Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire)
It's difficult to get around Paris if you can't figure out their public transportation websites, so I’ll show you other maps and sites that are easier to use. Even if you are a Baby Boomer (or a senior), you can learn the Paris transit systems, such as the Métro. That way you won’t waste your precious time or money on some crappy tour bus.
....Excuse me. I meant to say, “luxury coach."
First of All: Don’t Look Like a Tourist
I know you can use your phone and apps to navigate as you walk around, but I would only do that when absolutely necessary. There are pickpockets and gypsies and other people who target Parisian tourists. Paris is not dangerous like large American cities; however, you could lose your wallet, your passport, or your cell phone. So why not check out how to get around Paris before hitting the streets?
Paris Is Easy
Paris is fairly easy to navigate as long as you stay in the main tourist areas. But, many Parisian websites are built using some kind of Napoleonic-Code coding logic. (This is normal. I can’t understand my French husband... Que puis-je faire?)
Parisian Websites Are Not Easy
If you’re like me and you’re used to American logic, you will have a terrible time navigating the Parisian Métro, bus, and RER (train) websites. Hey, I can read enough French to get by, but I have yet to find one easy-to-use, all-encompassing site where I can type, “What’s the best way to get from the Bastille to the Louvre?” and have the answer pop up.
(Actually, I would never ask that question because the answer is simple: You take Métro Line 1 from Métro Bastille towards La Défense and get off at Métro Palais Royale-Musée du Louvre.)
How to Use the Paris Métro
When using the Métro (subway/tube) in Paris, you must know the correct Métro line number and the name of your stop, but you also must know the final stop on each end of that track. For example, on Métro Line 1 (M1), if you are at the Bastille and you want to go west towards Arc de Triomphe, you take M1 direction La Défense. But, coming back, you take M1 direction Château de Vincennes (the other terminus). Without taking note of a line’s endpoint, you could get on the right subway but end up going the wrong direction.
Actually, you probably will be able to walk to many tourist spots from your hotel, but after a few hours, your Baby-Boomer body may cry out for help. And, sometimes you will wander around hopelessly lost even though you know that that darn Eiffel Tower is “right over there... somewhere,” because you just saw it two seconds ago. So, you should learn a few Métro stops before you start exploring. [please continue to the next page]
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