I lived in Paris for a good 4 months. Too long? Maybe. But I did manage to navigate the city and come out alive- or barely.
Traveling within the City
Paris’ extensive metro system has approximately 300 stops. As such, metro stations are found easily throughout the city, especially Paris city center, where tourist attractions are generally located. Trains run frequently in popular areas, usually every 2-5 mins between 05:30 and 00:40 (5:30 am – 12:40 am) Sunday thru Thursday and 05:30 – 01:40 on Fridays and Saturdays. Note!! Night buses take over after trains stop running. These buses generally stop at every station in accordance to metro line stops, so no worries when having a late night out! Check out the app RATP here.
The most confusing part about the Paris metro system is pricing. Now, a few days’ stay isn’t all too bad. Individual tickets and multi-day passes are available at every metro counter. Check out the various prices here. The problem is, Paris is divided into 5 different zones.
Every zone is subjected to a different price.
Zone 1-2 is central Paris (Light yellow area on the map). The majority of metro stations are within this zone. After these two zones, the RER Regional Express Network will provide access to other zones, such as Zone 5, where the Charles de Gaulle airport is located. For a more thorough read on zones and transportation, here is a great article.
If you are under 26 and planning on living in Paris for an extended period, there’s good news for ya! The French government loves to help us kids and will subsidize a bulk of the cost for an annual pass. While the benefits are great, the bureaucratic process can be a headache. To get the application forms, visit one of the offices in a metro station and ask for the forms for Carte Imagine’R (with valid photo id, a photo, school enrollment info and a French bank account reference). These cards may take a few months to be delivered to your address, which is rather annoying since finding a place in Paris isn’t always easy. However, the card ends up being half the price of Navigo, which is the normal metro pass. It also provides a lot of benefits. For more information, click here.
Paris has an extensive bike sharing system called Velib. It’s around €2 for the half an hour with a valid credit card. If you return a bike within half an hour and rent a new one, it will only charge you that €2. basically, don’t go over the time limit and you won’t have to pay extra! Read more about the biking system here.
I took the taxi once, it starts at €4 and is €1.25/km. While I feel for the taxi industry, Uber, a rideshare network, is just a lot more budget friendly for my student wallet. As North America, Uber is really convenient in Paris. If you are a first time user, click here and sign up to get a free ride! All the drivers I’ve been with are hella friendly.
Traveling between Cities
There are tons of buses in Europe, including Euroline, IDBUS, National Express, etc
Megabus is probably the cheapest, which deals as low as ***€1.50*** if you book around a month or so ahead of time. (I was able to book a ticket to Brussels from Paris for €2! Now, they don’t have the most comfortable seats or the most extensive travel destinations, but I thought it was definitely worth the few hours’ pain if you can find your desired destination.
Planes and Trains
If you aren’t familiar with Skyscanner, you should!!! It will provide the prices on all the days of the select month and show the cheapest fare. The site also provides an option for spontaneous travelers. By selecting “flexible” in the destination tab, It will show a list of destinations organized by price from the point of departure.
Trains are quite expensive (yes I do think that eurorail is extremely pricey) BUT, if you manage to secure a ticket with Ouigo, do so!! It ranges between €10- 35 from Paris to 16 other cities. The catch is, you do need a French or European bank card.
Clubs and Bars
Paris has two completely different club scenes.
Generally expensive to get in, unless you meet a promoter (which is quite easy for girls, but be ready for comments on how to dress and whether you are pretty enough). When you do have a promoter, there is free cover, free alcohol, free booth, you name it!
Some of my favorite are Nüba, an open rooftop bar/club, and club 79, a fancy club in the 16th arrondissement.
Geared towards a younger crowd, most are dressed casually while the cover is not as expensive, though this differs based on the club.
Overall, I felt safe during my 4-month stay in Paris. However, I was fortunate enough to live in a nice neighborhood. But there were several incidents that noted otherwise. My phone was stolen on the metro and my friend was robbed in the suburbs. Read the full story here.
There are certain truths to stereotypes. People in Paris weren’t overly excited to help out tourists (to be fair, there are a lot of us). But start your sentence with a few French words, they are a lot nicer after!
Happy Travels xx