Paris boasts one of the world's safest and most efficient public transportation systems. Trains usually arrive on time; buses are well-appointed and clean, and commuter express ("RER") trains service the city's most important stops in record time. What's not to love?
Well, for those of you who have already had the pleasure of riding the Paris metro or taking a bus in the city of light, you know that there's plenty to potentially infuriate and unnerve travelers. For one thing, Parisians eschew cars so much that trains and buses are more often than not overcrowded-- and Paris being the world's top tourist destination doesn't help matters. For another, most Paris metro lines lack air-conditioning-- positive from an ecological standpoint, but watch out for those summer steambaths (and grouchy travelers). To gripe just a bit longer, Paris public transportation is also notoriously lacking where accessibility to disabled visitors is concerned. Gymrats will rejoice at the endless tunnels and stairs that snake through the Paris underground, but after a day visiting the city, the lack of elevators or escalators in some stations can be a real headache.
The good news? The Paris city government takes public transport very seriously, and every year a big chunk of the budget is reserved for improving traffic and passenger conditions in Paris trains, buses, and tramways. In the coming years, you can expect Paris public transportation to become more efficient, accessible and comfortable. Lots of new stations are also being added, making it easier than ever to get around.
If you're a bit daunted by the metro, fear not: this guide will provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to help use Paris public transport with ease.