A Transportation Guide To Paris

Whether you are going to or returning from the conference hall, or just trying to find a postcard-worthy neighborhood to wander into, Paris has plenty of means of transportation to use. This page tries to sum them up in a easy-to-digest way.

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Airports

There are 2 main commercial airports for Paris, and a third one which is much farther.

Roissy – Charles de Gaulle (CDG)

Charles de Gaulle is the largest international airport in France. Located in the north-east of Paris, it is 35 minutes away from the Gare du Nord railway station by public transport, and an hour away from Les Docks de Paris. It is the closest airport to WordCamp Europe, and we recommend it. Easy CDG gives you several information about the airport, including transfer options.

Transfer options

  • Public transport: RER to Gare du Nord station, roughly 10€ one-way. See Roissybus for more info
  • Taxi
  • Bus

Orly (ORY)

Orly is the busiest French airport for domestic traffic. Located in the south of Paris, it is 35 minutes away from Paris’ Place Denfert-Rochereau by public transport (), and 1h20 away from Les Docks de Paris. While not as close to WordCamp Europe as CDG, we still recommend it. More information including transfer options could be found at the official website.

Transfer options

  • Public transport: ORLYVAL then RER to “Place Denfert-Rochereau”, roughly 12€ one-way
  • Taxi
  • Bus

Beauvais (BVA)

A smaller airport, with mostly charter and low-cost airlines (Ryanair, for instance). Located 75 kilometers north of Paris (in the Picardie region), it is 2 hours away from Porte Maillot (on the Paris ring-road) by special shuttle bus, and 3 hours away from Les Docks de Paris. If you can, do NOT go through this airport. It has recently been voted one of the 10 worst airports in the world.

Transfer options

  • Public transport: none
  • Taxi
  • Shuttle bus (2h), 16€ one-way

Train Stations

There are 7 train stations within Paris. They serve both the Paris suburbs and the whole of France (the “province”). Paris also has a subway/underground system, called the “Métro” (with the RER being the high-speed métro). Note that the Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est and Magenta stations are very close by: 8 minutes away by foot. Don’t take a cab to transit between them! They also form a huge hub for the métro (lines 2, 4, 5 and 7) and RER (lines B, D and E), as well a several bus lines.

Gare du Nord

This is most probably the station you’ll use, since this is where the Eurostar line (from London), the Thalys line (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany) and the RER line from Charles-de-Gaulle airport all have their Paris stop.

Note that it is not the most dreamy of entrance to Paris: the traffic, long corridors and late-night smells can trigger your first Paris syndrome. Quick! Grab your bags, make your way to the main area, follow the “RER” and “M” (métro) signs down one level, and you’re halfway out. Find a ticket machine, then follow the signs to the RER/métro line you need to take in order to reach your destination.

Gare de l’Est

Gare de l’Est will mostly be used by those of you travelling by train from Germany, northern Switzerland, Luxemburg and the whole of Eastern Europe. This is thanks to the newly-built high-speed line “TGV Est”.

Gare de Lyon

Travelers from Switzerland, Italy, Germany and even Spain may land in a Gare de Lyon, one of the busiest in the city. Not counting the numerous taxi and bus lines nearby, Gare de Lyon gives you access to the line 1 and line 14 of the Paris métro, which are both automated. They are particularly useful:

  • line 1 crosses from East to West, reaching many landmarks and transport hubs (Bastille, City Hall, Châtelet, Louvre museum, Champs-Elysées, La Défense).
  • line 14 is a high speed train, allowing you to go from Gare de Lyon to Gare St Lazare in under 15 minutes.

Other Stations

A handful of other stations are available. Their use is mostly to take you out of Paris, either to the suburb (want to go see the Versailles castle? Take the train from the Montparnasse station!) or to the whole of France.

Public Transport: Subway & Buses

Paris is extremely well connected with public transport

Paris is big on public transportation, with a dense network of options. All of the city is easily accessible by public transport — and so does the near suburbs: a 2016 ITDP study reports that 100% of people in the city of Paris have an easy access to rapid transportation, earning first position.

Subway/RER, buses and trams are operated by the state-owned RATP (métro line 4 by state-owned SNCF). All tickets can be purchased at ticket machines located on platforms and stops. Make sure to validate your ticket before boarding! Tram and bus tickets are validated inside the vehicle.

Single-trip tickets are priced at roughly 2€ each (15€ for a pack of 10), but you should probably opt for the Paris Visite travel pass, at 12€ per day tops. Tickets bought at subway stations also work for the buses and trams, and vice versa.

As with all publication transport systems in the world, make sure to know where you need to stop and which lines you need to follow in order to get to order destination BEFORE you start your trip. Maps are available inside each vehicle and at each station.

Subway System

The “métro” (for “métropolitain”) is made of 303 stations (PDF plan), mostly underground. It is said to be the busiest subway system in Western Europe, and has the World’s largest subway station (Châtelet — Les Halles).

The subway system is made of various intertwined networks:

  • The métro itself: 16 lines, two of which are automated (1 & 14), and 245 stations. Expect to 2 to 3 minutes between each station.
  • The RER: a rapid suburb system that works as a faster métro within the city itself, because it only has 5 lines (A to E) and 33 inner-city stations. Out of the city, it expends to a network of station going as far as 75 kilometers away from the city center. Don’t take a nap! Expect 4 to 5 minutes between each station.
  • The tram: after disappearing in 1938 in favor of cars, the tram system now boasts 9 lines. Sadly, only two lines (3a and 3b) are really useful; and then again, only when slowly circling the city limits. Expect 2 to 5 minutes between each station.

Subway tickets also work with the RER system.

Keep in mind that the subway system is made of several zones around Paris: the more zones you want to travel through, the more expensive your ticket gets. Most subway stations are within the Zone 1 (Paris itself), but taking the RER can take you quite far away, up to Zone 5. Ask about it at the station!

Metros and RER stop at night, usually at around 1:30 AM, and start again at around 5:30 AM.

Protip!
For the “above ground” lines, choose either line 2 (between Anvers and Colonel Fabien stations) or line 6 (between Trocadéro and Pasteur – best view of the Eiffel Tower!).

Bus System

Paris’ bus system is quite dense (PDF plan), with 64 lines operating with Paris itself, numbered from 20 to 99. More lines exist in the suburbs, numbered from 101. Buses stop at night, but a secondary, nocturnal system exists: Noctilien, operating with a subset of lines and stops between 0:30 PM to 5:30 AM. They are numbered from N01 to N199.

Vehicle Sharing

The sharing economy is not just about Uber and Airbnb! Paris boasts two large scale vehicle sharing systems: Vélib’ for bike sharing, and Autolib’ for electrical car sharing (“lib’” being short for “liberté”, meaning “freedom”). They are available to the public, but are not public transport: operated by industrial groups, you have to pay a fee.

Both Vélib’ and Autolib’ rely on a good number of parking stations (with chargers, as Autolibs are electric cars) which you can find all around Paris, and even in the nearby towns.

Biking With Vélib’

Visiting Paris on a bike is neat when the sunny days are here. Vélib’ allows you just that: with more than 1200 parking hubs all around Paris, servicing some 15400 bikes, Vélib’ is very popular — even with its heavy but sturdy bikes.

Vélib’ is self-service system, available 24/7. Just turn up at a station, follow the on-screen instruction at the terminal, choose a bike and take it, bike to your next station, push the bike into a free post until it clicks, you’re done! Once you buy your personal ticket (there are 1-day and 7-days options), you can use any bike for free during the first 30 minutes (after that, it gets to 1 to 4 euros per half-hour).

You can bike to the WCEU! A handful of Vélib’ stations are available around the Docks de Paris, the closest being EMGP-Gardinoux (#32008), right next to the Front Populaire métro station.

Protip!
If you have a long trip, just aim for an intermediary station that you can reach within 25 minutes, drop your bike there and take a fresh one to finish your trip, Pony Express style! Note that you might have to wait a couple of minutes before you can take a new bike.

Don’t keep the bike to yourself and don’t forget to park it back, as this would mean penalties!

Driving Around In An Autolib’

Autolib’ can be used by anyone over 18 years of age who has a valid national driver’s license (French citizens or citizens of an EU country) or a valid international driver’s license for citizens of a country outside the EU.

You must first subscribe to the service, either online or at a kiosk. You’ll need scans of your driver’s license and a form of photo identification.

While the fact that Autolib’ uses fully electric cars, the service is also immensely useful in that you can book your car in advance… and you book your parking spot before you start driving, thus avoiding the whole part of driving around looking for an available space.

You can drive to the WCEU with an Autlib’, but we advise against it, as the one station near the Docks de Paris can be often unavailable. However, you can drive there with a regular car, as several (for-pay) car parks are available in or around the area. Driving apps such as Waze can easily point you to them.

Coming to Paris with your own vehicle

You may wish to drive to Paris, and enjoy the freedom of your own vehicle.

Mandatory Air Quality Certificate

Be advised that Paris is a Restricted Traffic Zone since January 2017, and you must provide an Air Quality Certificate (“Crit’Air”) should you encounter law enforcement. It is compulsory for all vehicles entering Paris.

It costs €3.70 plus postage, and must be order online before you enter Paris.
You can apply here: https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/en/demande.

A FAQ on the topic is available online. For instance, the Périphérique (the ring-road around Paris) can be driven on without such certificate.

Parking General Info

Parking in Paris is not very easy (lot of traffic, tight places…). In all cases, you have to pay (except on Sunday). If you don’t, the risk is that your car will be taken to the pound and you will be fined.

You can’t use coins with meters. You’ll have to buy a prepaid card called Paris Carte in tabac. There are two of them: 15€ and 40€.

You can also use a dedicated mobile app called P Mobile:

To use P Mobile, check for the 5 digits code on the nearest meter and use it in the app.

We do recommend you to park underground as it is probably the easiest option (here you will be able to pay with your credit card).

Parking Around The Venue

Below a map of available parkings around the venue.

  • Purple parkings are underground. They’re free for three hours then it will cost 1€/hour.
  • Blue parkings are outside free parkings.
  • For each them, you have the number of available spaces.

Recommended Apps

There are a few must-have apps that will help you getting around Paris. Note that most require a mobile plan or proper wifi. Watch out for bandwidth costs!

General Mapping Apps

  • Google Maps works great. It has all the information you need for planning your journey, be it by car, métro, feet, etc. They have traffic information. If you do not have a cheap mobile plan, think of offline navigation.
    • Apple Plan is just as good.
    • Use Maps.me if you don’t have a good mobile plan: it downloads the needed map, and you can do the usual geoloc, address search and itinerary with it.
  • Waze is great for road journeys, since it has very accurate traffic information.

Public Transportation Apps

There you go! We hope all this information will help you getting around in Paris!