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Getting around Paris

(Note: this section is meant more for parents and returning RMs acting as tourists. Missionaries will receive instruction on how they'll be getting around once they are in the field, although most Paris-area missionaries do use a Carte Orange.)

Although you can get around Paris using a rental car, because of traffic and parking problems, you might want to consider the subway system, Métro. The Métro is safe and relatively clean. It runs frequently and everywhere. If you do choose to go by Métro, stop at the information desk in the train station and ask them to help you find a place to purchase a Mobilis, which is a day pass for the Métro and normal buses (Paribus is not included), or a Carte Orange if you're staying longer and need to get out further.

You'll have to specify the number of zones. If you don't plan on leaving Paris, just get zones 1-2. That'll cover everything within Paris's boundaries and it only costs 5.40€. Zones 1-3 includes everything out to Saint Denis and costs a little more at 7.15€ though it may be worth it if you get lost in the Métro.)

And here's a quick tip if you do get lost in Métro: do not leave the gates. Leaving the gates means that you'll have to punch another ticket to get back to your original destination. Just find the right track to go in the right direction and stay in the system.

The Mobilis consists of two tickets: a large id card-sized ticket on which you write your name, and a smaller ticket which you put in the ticket slot to open the Métro gate (the gate gives you back your ticket). You must copy the number of the large ticket onto the small one and put the date you're using the ticket on too. DON'T validate the little ticket on the buses (it'll ruin the ticket) just show the ticket to the driver. And don't even worry about doing that if you get on in the back of the bus, Paris has contrôleurs who do random checks of the buses to make sure that everyone has a valid ticket.

The Carte Orange also consists of two tickets: an ID card for which you must have a photo and a smaller ticket, both of which go into a grey sleeve. The little ticket functions as described above.

You may be tempted to get a Paris Visite ticket, marketed aggressively to tourists. The cheapest one for one day costs 8.35€. Although the attractions have gotten better since I first reviewed this in 1996, the discounts are not that great. Most of them are "companion discounts": buy one, get one free. If you aren't planning on visiting the places that are listed below or you don't have a companion, the ticket still isn't worth it.

The Paris Museum Pass, in contrast, is 30€ for two days (45€ for 4 days, 60€ for 6 days), and it gives you free entry without waiting to more than 60 Paris museums and monuments including the Louvre. This is worth it if you plan to see four or more sights on the list. For example, the Louvre costs 8.50€ (6€ after 3:00 pm), the Eiffel Tower costs 11.00€, and the Arc de Triomphe costs 8€. One more museum and the ticket is covered. Despite the new rates, it's still one of the best bargains in Paris.


Individual Métro/Bus tickets
Individual Métro/Bus tickets cost 1.40€ each. They can be bought in a carnet (booklet) of 10 for 10.70€. DON'T buy your tickets from the people milling around the big stations like Montparnasse. These venders go and buy discounted tickets for the handicapped and aged, and try to sell them off to tourists who don't know any better. Trust me, the contrôleurs in the trains do know, and being a tourist is a pretty bad excuse to try to pull.

The Mobilis ticket is only good for one day and allows the user to ride the Métro, RER, and bus as often as desired. Mobilis is available for 2 to 8 zones, with a base price of 5.40€ for zones 1-2 up to 18.40€ for zones 1-8. Mobilis consists of two individual tickets. To be able to pass the turnstiles of the Métro and RER, there is a Métro ticket portion. It does not give tourism discounts.

Carte Orange
The Carte Orange is valid for seven days (Monday to Sunday) or a calendar month. Prices vary according to the number of zones (2 to 8) and the length of time chosen (from 15.70€ to 42.70€ for the weekly card, and from 51.50€ up to 139.90€ for the monthly card). It also consists of two individual tickets. To be able to pass the turnstiles of the Métro and RER, there is a Métro ticket portion. The outer ticket requires a passport-sized photograph. It does not give tourism discounts.

Transportation to Versailles is outside your ticket range if you choose a zone 1-3 ticket (Mobilis or Carte Orange). Also travel on the Phébus (Versailles bus lines) is not covered by any of the above tickets. Be sure to plan accordingly (Versailles is zone 4).

Paris l'Opentour (formerly Paribus)
These special tourist buses may be cheaper than a taxi, since you pay a fixed amount (25€ for one day, 28€ for two days), which allows you to ride around on the bus and get off at the sights you wish to spend more time at.

Paris Museum Pass
The Paris Museum Pass (formerly the Carte Musées et Monuments) offers free access (without waiting) to the permanent collections of over 60 museums and monuments, including the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe.

The new pass is offered in 2-day (30€), 4-days (45€), and 6-day (60€) versions. It's sold at all of the participating museums and monuments, the Paris tourism office, the Espace de Tourisme Ile de France, and FNAC stores. It does not cover transportation, but is an excellent buy if you have a few days in Paris. Information: 08 92 68 30 00.

Paris Visite
This ticket gives discounts at the following attractions:

  • Canauxrama - buy one €14 ticket and get one free
  • Chez Clément - 1 house cocktail or 1 crème brûlée per person (one visit only)
  • Cité des sciences et de l'industrie - €5.50 (instead of €7.50)
  • Etoiles du Rex, Montmartrain, Musée Jacquemart-André, Musée de Montmartre, Musée du vin - buy full fare ticket, get companion ticket for free
  • Galeries Lafayette - 10% discount + a gift
  • Montparnasse Tower observation deck- 35% off the price of one adult ticket
  • Moulin Rouge - one complementary porcelain Moulin Rouge ashtray
  • Musée Grévin - 25% off full admission fee
  • Opentour - €22.00 (instead of €25)
  • Palais Garnier - discount rate for accompanying visitor of €5 (instead of €7)
  • Stade de France - 30% discount (visit to heart of the stadium only)

(Note that this obviously does not cover the majority of museums or monuments.)

The Paris Visite comes in 3, 5, and 8 zone increments and 1, 2, 3, or 5 day lengths at prices ranging from 8.35€ - 26.65€ up to 23.60€ - 53.35€.

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