by Isabella Sharipova-Williams, published 10th May 2024

Paris: The city of light. The city of traffic lights – often unheeded. You may choose to travel by road here, but let’s be honest – you’re probably reading this in order to find out how to use the metro. Or maybe you want to know what’s the deal with all the different RER trains. Perhaps you’re in fact a pirate and wish to know how to gain the Seine. However, if you also want to brave the traffic lights, be you a motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian, look no further. 

Here is the simultaneously condensed and informative guide.

The RER, the buses, the tram, and the metro

Public transport, consisting of:

The regional trains (the RER) which run across Paris to its many suburbs, 

The metro (smaller, usually underground, trains) with shorter, central lines and a great many more stops,

The tramways, which do not form an extensive network,

And buses, which go everywhere.

All of these are under the RATP, a state-owned enterprise. Yes, occasionally they do go on strike, and then the network does experience disruptions. Google Maps is quite good at signalling when these occur. 90 % of the time (in our experience) it is reliable. Another useful app for finding routes (and which transport to take) is IDF Mobilités, which you can download from Google Play Store or App Store for free. This app also allows you to buy tickets and passes. The Navigo Pass could be called a skeleton key to the entirety of Paris – we could not imagine our lives without it. Skip queues, waste no paper, top up weekly or monthly, glide through to your destination with ease – The best purchase, and arguably the only way to travel in Paris efficiently, and what is style, if not efficiency? The Navigo may also be purchased at any station at the ticket office, and topped up at the ticket machines. The way to use it is to scan it as you would an Oyster card in London – there are special scanning points, at the entrance to the metro or RER, or on the bus or tram.

However, if your stay is short, and your plans to travel are few, or ad hoc, paper tickets are also an easy and cheap option. These can be bought at the station at the ticket office, or from machines, which normally give you the option to buy in English and a variety of other languages, among them Spanish and German.

For more information, please look at the website: 


IDF Mobilités also provides the option to rent a Velib’ bike. Despite the roads’ reputation, Paris is quite well-equipped with cycle paths. Indeed, it has been found that more Parisians are traveling by bike than by car now – 11.2 % of trips are made pedalling, compared to 4.3 % behind the wheel.

With Velib’, you have the choice of a classic bike (green) or an electric one (electric blue, of course). You can pay for a pass via the app, or at the docking points, with the cheapest option of a 45-minute ride being just 3 €. You won’t go 350 yards without encountering a docking point – there are more than a thousand speckled across the metropolis.

There is a similar service available from Lime, where you can also rent e-scooters. You can download the app on the App Store or Google Play Store. The bonus is that you can continue using it after you leave Paris, as the company has docking points all over the globe!

There are other options available, including renting bikes from local businesses such as:

Rentabike Paris (open daily from 10am until 7pm)

Paris Bike Company (open Monday to Saturday from 9am until 6pm)

Vélos vagabonds (open Monday to Friday, varying opening hours, for mountain and touring bikes)


Walking along the streets of fair Lutèce has got to be one of those close-to-heaven experiences – there is a reason that the Champs Élysées are named after the Elysian Fields, the Ancient Greek Paradise. If you really want to drink in the city, a literal step at a time is the best way to do it. My grandfather fondly reminisces having been able to have covered the centre of Paris in a day on foot. “It’s a tiny city!” he said. Well, yes and no. Paris’ environs stretch out further than the eye can see, but the centre, yes, we can attest, is quite walkable. However, if you have a packed itinerary and a tight schedule, we recommend taking the metro or to cycle. 

Also, it goes without saying – make sure to look both left and right before crossing the road. Most Paris motorists are law-abiding, but occasionally you will find one who decides that red lights do not apply to them. Unfortunately, this is true for cyclists, too. 

Taxis and car rental services

There are numerous taxi and shuttle services across the city, such as:


Paris Private Cab

Booking Paris Taxi

You can also often find taxi ranks outside of metro and train stations.

Booking a cab via Uber is also a cheap and easy option. 

Car rentals, now:

Auto Europe



To name a few. 


But how could we forget our beloved river?

Well, you’re in luck. This is very much the city of the bateaux-mouches

The most affordable is probably the Batobus, which has 9 stops along the Seine, each at key locations, such as Notre-Dame, Musée d’Orsay, and Les Invalides. You can get a 24-hour pass for 23 €, or a 48-hour pass for 27 €. 

Alternatively, if a very tourist option – you could book a tour or a river cruise. You can find several companies on almost every quai offering these, but to suggest a few:

Bateaux Parisiens

Bateaux Mouches (eponymously named!)

Private Cruises in Paris (a family business)

Some cruises also offer the option of dining onboard. A night cruise, with a candlelit dinner, when the city lives up to its name and the banks are aflame with all manner of golds, reds, whites and blues, is sure to be a romantic evening that neither of you is likely to forget…

Going to and from the airport

The rules are such, for easy airport transfers:

If you have a lot of luggage, get a taxi or a shuttle. Uber may be your cheapest option. If you are going from Beauvais, be prepared to pay more than 100 €. Taxis from Orly or Charles de Gaulle can cost a small fortune, too, but are definitely worth it if you are arriving late, as public transport late at night can take up to 2 hours to get you to the city centre.

Information on public transport is as follows:


Aéroport Paris Beauvais operates a bus which departs every 30 minutes to Porte Maillot (near the Porte Maillot metro station (line 1), for the price of 16-17 € – tickets are cheaper if bought online, in advance). It takes just over an hour to get to Paris.

Incidentally, Porte Maillot is just a stone’s throw away from our La Défense apartment.

Taking the train is also an option, but is more expensive, and takes longer to get to Paris.

More information is available on the Paris-Beauvais website: How to reach Paris-Beauvais Airport!: Aéroport Paris-Beauvais (


Taking the Paris Orlybus is one of the cheapest and most straightforward options, with tickets being 11,50 €, and the bus stopping at each of the airport’s four terminals before making its way to Paris-Place Denfert-Rochereau. It takes 28 minutes to get to Paris.

Alternatively, another good option is to take the ORLYVAL shuttle to Antony, and then take the RER B into Paris (for reference, Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame or Châtelet – Les Halles are the most central stations). The bus leaves every 5-7 minutes, and the total journey costs 14,50 €. Taking the 183 bus from Terminal 4, and then taking the RER C train from the Pont de Rungis is also possible. This stops at various stations in the centre of Paris, notably the Gare d’Austerlitz.

For information on other alternatives, please consult the Orly Airport website: Accès Transport de & vers Orly – AEROPORT ORLY (Paris-Orly)

Charles de Gaulle:

CDG Terminals 1 and 2 are at the end of the RER B line (Northwards, towards CDG) to CDG – take care that you take the correct train, as the line splits into two branches after Aulnay-sous-Bois. This service is otherwise direct. Going from the Gare du Nord can take 30 minutes to just over an hour, so look at the times in advance. The cost is usually 11,50 €.

Alternatively, there is the RoissyBus, which departs every 30 minutes, between Terminals 1, 3, 2AC, 2D, and 2EF to Paris Opéra, which costs 16,60 €. The journey between CDG and Paris by bus is 1 hour.

For more information on public transport from the CDG website, please consult this link: Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport by public transport – Paris Aéroport (

And thus, mesdames et messieurs – You can now navigate Paris as Parisians do!