Best Maps & Websites for Directions in Paris: Métro, Bus, RER
The Main Paris Métro Website
The Paris Métro is the best and cheapest way to get around the city. Well, kids, I don’t know what it is about the front page of the ratp.fr Metro website that drives me crazy, but I have a hard time navigating their site.
Even after translating the website into English, I can’t figure out where I am supposed to click to find the type of map I need. Note: My personal “conspiracy theory" is that the Paris Métro website was designed by several Parisian taxi drivers.
You might be the type of tourist who likes to consult your navigational app while wandering around, but I like to know the best Métro (or bus) route before I get to the point where I am walking in circles. Hey, the Parisian streets do not form a Manhattan-style grid; streets often branch out like stars from a central point like the Arc de Triomphe, and the streets change names every few blocks.
Google Earth vs. Google Maps
There are lots of things I love about Google Earth, but for mapping transit routes, I don’t use Google Earth or Vianavigo.com. I even let my husband try Vianavigo in French, and he said, “C’est la merde.”
Find Your Métro Stop with Google Maps
Follow along with my example and you will become an expert. The best way to learn Paris is to think in terms of Métro stops and neighborhoods rather than street addresses.
I’m going to show you how to map out a route from a hotel to the Louvre Museum. We’re using the Hotel de l’Abbaye at 10 Rue Cassette (in the Jardin du Luxembourg/Luxembourg Gardens neighborhood) for this example.
- Click on this Google Map link to follow along on your own.
- Locate your hotel by typing “Hotel de l’Abbaye, Paris” into the Google Maps search box. Choose “Hotel de l'Abbaye, Rue Cassette, Paris, France."
- The red A (on the Paris map) is your hotel.
- Zoom in by clicking the plus sign (on the left).
- Find your nearest Métro stop by looking for a blue M in a circle. The closest one seems to be Saint-Sulpice to the north.
- Click on the Saint-Sulpice Métro icon and you will see that Saint-Sulpice is on Métro Line M4 (purple). Click on “Directions” at the bottom of the box.
- In the “Get Directions” box (on the left side of the page), type “Louvre”. Choose Musée du Louvre (from the list) because the other Louvre stop is not at the museum.
- Click the bus icon. This will give directions for all public transportation systems.
- Click the up/down arrows for reverse directions. And, scroll to read “Transit directions to Musée du Louvre.”
What it says: Get on the subway at Saint-Sulpice and take M4 direction Porte de Clignancourt. Get off at Châtelet (sounds like "chocolate" on the Métro recording). Get on M1 direction La Défense. Get off at Musée du Louvre.
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