There is plenty of information on the web about Paris metro stations, but most of it focuses on what you should do. We even have this Perfect Paris Itinerary that tells you what to do and how to plan. But this guide is different. This is going to tell you what you should AVOID doing transiting through Paris metro stations. Don’t worry, it isn’t all as scary as you may think. Paris is a wonderful city to visit and the public transportation system is very good, but there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your Paris itinerary if it includes a visit to one of the many Paris metro stations.
We have been to Paris countless times at this point and have made countless mistakes. This [unfortunatly] has given us first-hand knowledge on what you should NOT DO when traveling through Paris metro stations. France was one of the three countries we visited on our first trip to Europe ever [along with Italy and Ireland] and we have since been back to Paris many times. If you are going to Paris and you hope to take the train or utilize public transportation in any way, this is for you!
7 Big Mistakes To Avoid At Paris Metro Stations
Mistake #1: Assuming All Paris Metro Stations Will Have An Elevator Or Escalator
This has to be one of the biggest mistakes that people make at Paris Metro stations. DO NOT EVER ASSUME that a Paris Metro station will have an elevator/lift or an escalator. Sadly, the Paris Metro system isn’t all that accessible so if you have any accessibility challenges or even just are traveling alone with a stroller and children, you may have a difficult time if your particular station has a lot of stairs.
The way the Paris Metro is set up is that there are smaller stations and these usually always have stairs. Sometimes there is an escalator to get out and exit onto the street but often not. At the larger stations, there may be an elevator to the street level, but this isn’t where the problem lies. The problem lies in trying to transit between trains! If you want to go from the M8 to the M6 but you have to walk a good distance, you will come across various amounts of stairs all throughout the inside of the connecting and larger Paris Metro stations. These may only be 5-10 stairs at a time, but even one step is a huge challenge to those who need easy accessibility.
This is not meant to scare you away from using the Paris Metro, but to prepare you so that you don’t go in blind. CLICK HERE for a map of the more accessible metro stations in Paris. If you are traveling with reduced mobility, find stairs difficult, or are simply traveling with a baby stroller when visiting Paris with kids or any other reason, you will want to check into this to be sure you won’t arrive at a station that is inaccessible to you. Again, keep in mind that stairs are not only from the station out to the street, but often inside the station as you walk between the metro trains themselves!
Mistake #2: Bringing Too Much Luggage On The Paris Metro
This is such a huge mistake when riding the Paris Metro! We have made this mistake too many times and one day we finally learned our lesson. The Paris Metro is quite extensive and Paris Metro stations can be quite crowded. This also ties hand in hand with the first mistake to avoid at Paris Metro stations listed above. Why? If you are carrying a whole bunch of luggage, what happens when you come to a staircase? As we mentioned above, many Paris Metro stations do not have a lift/elevator/escalator to get from the metro level to the street level. This means that you will have to carry your luggage up to the street level once you arrive at your destination.
If you need to connect to a different train, you may also come across various smaller stairs inside the Paris Metro stations themselves. These stairs may only consist of 5-10 steps, but that is a huge hindrance when you are carrying multiple heavy pieces of luggage with you. We have had to deal with all of these scenarios above with multiple 50lb/20kg suitcases and we are here to tell you it is not fun to do after a 9-hour red-eye flight.
We truly love the Paris Metro system and do recommend utilizing it whenever possible. This isn’t meant to scare you away from using public transportation with your luggage, but it is meant to prepare you for what is to come. The hard fact of the matter is that when you are traveling through many Paris Metro stations you will indeed have to carry your luggage or whatever you have with you up various flights of stairs ranging from small to larger.
We have done it every single trip to Paris and have learned to consolidate and not bring a whole bunch of suitcases. This is much easier for navigating steps when you only have one big suitcase and one backpack than if you were carrying multiple smaller suitcases or even a few big ones! Please don’t be afraid of the Paris Metro stations and their stairs, but keep this in mind when packing for your trip.
Mistake #3: Spending Too Much Money On Paris Metro Tickets
Guess what? This is yet another mistake we have made at Paris Metro stations. There are various classes of tickets for the Paris Metro and not having at least a basic understanding of them and of what you are hoping to do in Paris may cost you more money than necessary in the end. While there are sometimes ticket attendants to answer any questions, especially at the larger Paris Metro stations, this does come down to you and your individual trip and how much you plan to ride the Paris Metro during your itinerary.
Let us explain what this means in easy terms! There are a few main classes of tickets. First, you can choose to get an individual ride ticket. This means that you pay for one ride and that ticket is done. At the end of the day, this is the most expensive type of Paris Metro ticket. Second, you can purchase a “booklet” of tickets where you receive, say, 12 tickets for the price of 10. This is more affordable than if you purchased individually. Finally, you can purchase various types of Metro Passes. These passes can be good for 1-7 days and everything in between depending on the type you buy. The metro passes allow you to take unlimited rides for a flat fee.
So how do you choose? If you know that you are going to be in and out of Paris Metro stations all day and you aim to have a jam-packed Paris itinerary and see many things, then the Metro Pass for a flat fee may be the best option for you. If you plan to see all sorts of things but aim to bike, scooter, or walk to them, then purchasing this option may result in you losing money because you didn’t take enough rides on the Paris Metro to make up for the daily amount you spend.
As you can see, choosing the fare type that works best for your trip depends on you and you alone. Before you arrive at the ticket counter at the Paris Metro station, it is up to you to think about the type of trip you are planning and consider what type of fare will work best for your family. CLICK HERE to learn updated pricing and options!
Mistake #4: Riding The Paris Metro At Rush Hour
A surefire way to get super stressed out and swear off the Paris Metro forever is to ride it during rush hour. This is a huge mistake people make, especially when they first arrive in Paris. This isn’t to say that you should always avoid rush hour [but if you can why not?] just that you should really truly be prepared. Millions of people around the world, ourselves included, live in an area where public transportation really isn’t “a thing.” If this is you, you too may be overwhelmed and confused by Paris Metro stations at rush hour. This can be the same rule of thumb for any subway/metro/tube around the world so if you are already familiar then you already know!
The Paris Metro becomes incredibly crowded at rush hour. The individual metro train cars can be completely packed and then you must wait for the next one. Pushing and shoving to get on a car happens on the daily and if you are not prepared then you will feel violated and confused. Paris Metro stations themselves are very crowded as well so keep a close eye on your belongings and if you are visiting Paris with kids make sure to hold their hands and keep them near at all times.
If at all possible, avoid riding the Paris Metro at rush hour. Your sanity will thank you! If you have to do it anyway, simply stay alert and don’t be afraid to be a little forceful if someone gets in your personal space or if you need to enter the train. Always be polite but firm as you enter and smile along the way. Everyone hates being cramped and they are just as annoyed as you are!
Mistake #5: Failing To Download A Paris Transit App On Your Smartphone
This one is HUGE!! We get it, Paris Metro stations can be confusing. We don’t live in the past anymore and now there are countless apps that help you navigate the Paris Metro system. This is such a big mistake that can easily be avoided when traveling through the Paris Metro stations and we highly recommend you heed this warning!
One of the many Paris Metro apps will be your lifesaver during your trip. Simply put in your closest metro station and the metro station you want to end up at. Then, these apps tell you exactly how long it is going to take, color code the itinerary, tell you which metro line to take, tell you how long it is going to take and how often the trains come and more! They are a true lifesaver!
Sometimes, Google Maps or Apple Maps will provide a similar service if you simply plug in your starting and ending address, but we have found them to be a little unreliable depending on the circumstance and location. We prefer to use the apps specifically created for the Paris Metro for navigation purposes. Many of these apps can even be used offline and while they won’t update with real-time data, they can still plug in your location and destination and which trains you need to take to arrive safely and quickly!
This is one of the easiest mistakes to avoid at Paris Metro stations and really helps make for a stress-free trip. There are countless apps but the ones recommended above are created by the city of Paris. If you don’t love them, that is okay! Simply download one of the other Paris metro apps and see which you like best and then use the one that is easiest for you. This takes the thought out of utilizing the metro and makes it so much easier to navigate Paris Metro stations!
Mistake #6: Letting Your Guard Down In Paris Metro Stations And Getting Robbed
We could write an entire post just about this mistake! Sadly, pick-pocketing is extremely high in Paris and it is even worse within Paris Metro stations. We have caught many pick-pocketers in the act [literally with their hands in our bags] and even had a camera stolen while in Paris. The reason for this is the Paris police just don’t do anything about it unless you are specifically a terrorist so these people run rampant and prey on unsuspecting tourists because there are relatively few consequences.
Even compared to other large cities such as New York City or London, the pick-pocketing in Paris is very bad. This is NOT to scare you from visiting Paris or utilizing the Paris Metro stations, it is simply to prepare you. You should never, not once ever, let your guard down while you are in Paris and especially not ever in the Paris metro. If you are riding the metro when it is even remotely crowded, you will have hundreds of people bumping into you so you may never notice someone putting their hand in your back.
Our advice is to avoid backpacks at all costs when in Paris, period! We have had camera backpacks and travel backpacks opened up and have caught the thieves red-handed before they took anything. And yes, one time it was indeed while riding the Paris Metro. We don’t carry anything valuable in any easily accessible spaces in the backpacks, but the thieves do not know this!
Instead, we recommend wearing a cross body and keeping your valuables in your front pockets. When you are in the Paris Metro stations or on the metro, make sure to HOLD YOUR HAND ON YOUR FRONT POCKET OR PURSE ZIPPER. We cannot stress this enough. Pickpockets are professionals and Paris Metro stations are the perfect place to do their work. If your hand is always on your pocket or purse zipper, you will be alerted if someone is up to something sketchy. With just a few small precautions, you can protect yourself from theft while in the Paris Metro stations.
Mistake #7: Avoiding Paris Metro Stations At All Costs
Yes, people do go to Paris and not use the Paris Metro stations at all and we do think this is a huge mistake. Even after all we wrote about not getting robbed and the stairs and all that we do truly think not utilizing the Paris Metro at all is a huge mistake. Despite these few easily fixable flaws, the Paris Metro is extensive, affordable, and a wonderful way to get around during your trip to Paris.
You can get around the city quickly, especially when there is traffic out, and it is often faster than using a bus, uber, or taxi, and certainly more affordable. Paris Metro stations also offer a peek into the history of Paris and there are many historic ones that you can see simply by taking the train during your travels. Paris Metro stations also stretch way outside the inner-limits of the city center and you are able to go to far-flung places such as Disneyland Paris or Versailles easily and quickly by utilizing the Paris public transportation system!
We didn’t write this post to scare you or turn you away from using Paris Metro stations during your visit, but instead to inform you and prepare you so that you go in knowing what to expect. We truly hope that you don’t make the mistake to avoid the Paris metro because of us [unless, of course, you have accessibility or another sort of challenge.] The Paris Metro does allow you a lot of freedom to explore this beautiful city which we love and you would truly be doing yourself a disservice by not riding it if you are able to in the first place.
Additional Reading For Your Trip To Paris
If you are looking for more information about planning a trip to Paris, we have got you covered. Here are some additional resources for you to get inspired by!
- Looking to watch the sunset or sunrise in Paris? We detail the 10 Best Paris Sunset Locations and the 10 Best Paris Sunrise Locations and include maps on how to find each location!
- Discover the 10 Best Covered Passages In Paris in this post! We also include tips and a map to find each passage. This is a unique thing to do in Paris!
- Planning a winter trip to Paris? Don’t worry! We have a guide to winter travel in Paris too! With safety, weather, and travel tips just for you!
- We also have this guide to spring in Paris with everything you need to know!
- Want to get out of the city? This post on the Very Best Day Trips From Paris will show you exactly what to see and do! From well-known to more secret spots, this post has it all!
- Looking to get the perfect Instagram spot? This post on the 20 Perfect Paris Photography Spots shows you our favorite locations all around the city!
- Planning your Paris itinerary? Look no further than this post on 10 stops you must include on your Paris itinerary!
- Want to eat like a local? Make sure to check out 5 things to know about grocery stores in Paris before you head out!
- We love Disney! If you want to visit Disneyland Paris find out why we like Disneyland Paris better than Walt Disney World!
- Looking for something different? Visit 10 Hidden Gems In Paris That Aren’t The Eiffel Tower!
- If you are a fan of beautiful things, you may want to visit 10 Stunningly Beautiful Places In Paris.
Riding the Paris Metro should be a useful and simple way to integrate public transportation into your travel plans in Paris. By following these tips and simply doing a little research or asking a local attendant during your visit, you are on your way to ensuring a smooth visit. Paris Metro stations aren’t all as scary as you may think and can be a huge asset to your vacation. Please let us know below if you have any questions at all about utilizing the Paris public transportation system!