Ep. 15 – The art of finding your way through Paris

When I moved to Paris, everything was new to me. Well, almost everything. While I speak french perfectly, and had been to Paris before, there was one language I wasn’t at all fluent in: subway lingo. I didn’t know where anything was, and having a poor sense of orientation I was quite overwhelmed at the beginning. I didn’t know how Paris “worked”. I didn’t know North from South, nor left bank from from right bank. The only thing I knew was how to input an address in Google Maps, and let myself be mindlessly lead by a map mispronouncing the names of every street.

I got around to knowing most parts of Paris. Especially the part of Paris I lived (16th and 17th arrondissement) and worked in (6th and 7th arrondissements). One thing you have to know about Paris, is that it is organised by “Arronissements” numbers in one big swirl, starting from the middle with the 1st Arrondissement, and is separated in two parts by the Seine (Rive gauche, Rive Droite). Also, funnily enough, you can get to nearly everywhere in 20 to 30 minutes tops when you’re within Paris Center (Arronissement 1 to 6/7), and 35 minutes to 1 hour maximum, to cross town completely (16 to 20, 18 to 15, 17 to 12, for example).

The subway is probably the fastest way to get around town, because they come every 2 to 4 minutes and you can easily get stuck in traffic taking Taxis, Ubers or Buses. So while the Subway may not be the most luxurious way to get around, it is certainly the most practical one.

In this post, I will tell you about some basic things you probably don’t know about the Paris Metro, and and then tell you which Stations take you to the top locations in Paris you’ll most likely want to visit during your trip. I will do another more detailed post about travelling through Paris, but lets start with the basics, shall we!

What you absolutely need to know about the Paris METRO:

  • There are 14 metro lines;
  • Each line, obviously, has 2 opposite directions, so make sure to check the direction you want to be going towards;
  • Never carry your phone in your back pocket, and if you have loose side pockets, keep an eye on those too: pick pocketing in a real thing, and it happens every day;
  • There are often beggars on the metro, so deal with it, most of them are harmless;
  • You won’t get any phone reception once you’re in the metro station, so make sure you load your maps before you enter the subway station;
  • Some metro lines have been modernised with screens telling you exactly where you are, and some metro lines haven’t been modernised yet. It’s easy to keep track of where you are on the more modern lines, but you have to be extra attentive when you’re on the older lines, to make sure you get off at the right stop.

Which Metro lines take you to the TOP locations in Paris:

  • Champs Elysées: Line 1 (Get off at Franklin Roosevelt, George V or Champs-Elysées Clémenceau), Line 9 (Franklin Roosevelt), Line 6 (Charles de Gaulle Étoile), Line 13 (Champs Elysées Clémenceau)

You have many ways to get to the Champs Elysées, my preferred route being Line 1 and 9, and getting off at Franklin Roosevelt. Also, note that they often close the George V stop on Sundays, when they close off the Champs Elysées for Vehicle circulation. Franklin Roosevelt is always a safe bet.

  • Musée du Louvre (Louvre Museum): Line 1 (Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre)
  • Le Marais (nice neighbourhood in Paris): Line 1 (Saint Paul)
  • Saint Germain des Près (Solférino or Rue du Bac stop): Line 10 (Mabillon), Line 12 (Rue du Bac)
  • Nôtre Dame de Paris: Line 4 (Cité or Saint Michel), Line 1 (Hôtel de Ville), Line 11 (Hôtel de Ville or Chatelet), Line 10 (Maubert-Mutualité or Cluny-La Sorbonne), Line 7 (Chatelet), Line 14 (Chatelet)
  • Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower): Line 9 (Trocadero), Line 6 (Bir-Hakeim)
  • Arc de Triomphe: Line 1, 2 and 6 (Charles de Gaulle-Étoile)
  • Montmartre, Sacré Coeur: Line 12 (Abbesses), Line 2 (Blanche, Anvers)

And there you have it! I’ll write more about how to find your way through Paris, so you don’t feel as lost as I did during your next trip! 🙂