Paris' subway system is known as the 'metro', and there is always a subway station close by in central Paris. This page explains how to use the metro safely and effectively as well as providing information on the RER, buses and trains in Paris and the rest of France.
Metro (subway)/ Buses / Trams
RATP (the public transport operator) operate 14 metro (subway/underground train) lines and numerous bus routes throughout Paris and the suburbs (banlieu). Often, Parisian addresses will be given with the nearest Metro station indicated.
You can buy several types of ticket, ranging from a single ticket; a 'carnet' (book) of ten tickets; or you can buy various longer term tickets. The 'carte orange' are available as weekly (Mon-Sun), monthly (from the 1st of the month) and yearly passes.
Any single ticket can be used for one journey within central Paris on any form of transport and are available in metro stations, on buses, and from tabaconists.
The RER trains
These are the suburban trains, which cut right through the centre of Paris and link with the subway system. They require the correct fare for distances outside of the city centre, but can be used as a 'fast' alternative to the metro for moving around inside of Paris, still using the standard Metro tickets.
The distances paid for outside the centre of Paris relates to the 'zones', which circle Paris. You should state your destination, or the number of zone when purchasing your tickets for outside of Paris.
Transilien operate the standard train services and communications with the Metro and RER are excellent. Standard trains are less frequent, however. You should therefore consult a timetable when planning your journey.
For travels further afield, few countries offer a service equal to the TGV (Train de Grande Vitesse, or, 'high-speed train'). Paris has six mainline stations (Gare de Lyon, Austerlitz, Est, Nord, St Lazare and Montparnasse), which offer very effective and comfortable travel to most of France. The TGV is a more relaxed option to driving.
Some Tips for travelling safely and effectively
The first Metro trains run at around 5:30am; the last Metro runs at 1:30am
Night buses run regularly on a limited number of routes from central Paris (chatelet) to the outer areas
Line 2 and 6 circle inner Paris (Charles de Gaulle to Nation)
Line 1 cuts straight through the touristic parts of Paris from East to West (Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysses, Concorde, Louvre, Chatelet, Marais, Bastille). Beware of pickpockets on this line.
Line 4 (North-South) cuts through some of the better known and popular areas of Paris (Montparnasse, Odeon, St Michel, Chatelet)
RER Line C is very slow and is best avoided.
Remember: Central Paris is relatively small (about 10km in diameter) and distances between one Metro stop to another are rarely more than a 5-10 minute walk!
Also, don't rule out buses. Once you get accustomed to Paris you will find buses are very easy to use, less crowded and more convenient than the Metro.
Paris is a great city, but remember to be aware at all times. This is a very cosmopolitan city and, like most, has its share of social problems.
Try to avoid taking the Metro late at night.
Certain areas should be avoided in the small hours. These include:
Pigalle, Chatelet, Bastille, Republique