Practical Paris

Need help with the practical parts of your trip planning? You’ve come to the right place! Learn more about health, airports, transit, and more.

This page is a work in progress, check back regularly for more info. Thanks!


Section last updated April 11, 2022

Before traveling in the time of coronavirus/COVID-19, make sure to check out the latest restrictions and recommendations from these agencies and news outlets:


Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
Traveler’s Page
Coronavirus Main Page

World Health Organization (WHO)
Traveler’s Page
Coronavirus Main Page

U.S. State Department
France Travel Info
France Main Page
International Travel Page

French Government Coronavirus Page

French Government Coronavirus International Traveler’s Page


France24: French news channel in English
RFI (Radio France International): French news agency, available in English
The Local: French news site in English – 3 “free” articles, then requires sign up for newsletter for additional limited articles or a membership subscription. Subscription is worth it for the truly dedicated Francophile.
BBC Europe: British News Channel, maintains coverage on France and Europe
The Guardian/France: British newspaper, maintains coverage on France and Europe


Section last updated April 11, 2022

Getting To and From Paris

By Air

Paris is served by several airports. In general, if you are flying from outside of Europe, you will land at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport. However this is a not a universal rule and you will want to pay attention when booking your tickets.

Orly serves mostly flights from within Europe. This can include indirect flights from the US that transfer within Europe, so watch your tickets.

Beauvais serves smaller airlines, including several budget airlines such as RyanAir.

Charles de Gaulle Airport CDG is accessed by RER (suburban) trains, mainline trains, charter/shuttle buses, city buses, taxis, and ride shares. See “Getting Around Paris” below for transit information. CDG is a massive and somewhat confusing airport–give yourself a little extra time to navigate! Be sure to note which terminal (and in some cases sub-terminal) you are arriving and departing from. This will impact your transit choices.

Orly Airport ORY is Paris’ second largest airport. Located south of Paris, it is a bit harder to reach than CDG for the tourist. That said, it is served by RER (suburban trains), a tram line, charter/shuttle buses, city buses, taxis, and ride shares. See “Getting Around Paris” below for transit information. Orly is a decent sized airport but not nearly as daunting as her big sister CDG.

Click here for the main web page for both CDG and ORY.

CDG and ORY also have a shared app. Learn more here.

Transfer between CDG and ORY:

Getting between the two airports, which are on opposite sides of the city, is not the easiest task. If you are feeling adventurous or have a long layover, you can take a combo of the RER B and OrlyVal trains to transfer. There are some instructions and further information on the Aéroports website. Otherwise, a taxi or Uber is recommended.

The Le Bus Direct is sadly no longer available.

Beauvais Airport The smallest of the three main airports, it is also the furthest away in the suburb of Beauvais. You may encounter this airport if you are taking a low-cost carrier within Europe. It is much further out than the other two (more than an hour). It is served by mainline train, charter/shuttle buses, or expensive taxi and ride shares. If given a choice to land here or at CDG/ORY, it may be more cost and time effective to choose one of the larger airports.

By Train

If you are already in Europe, train is an excellent way to get in and out of Paris! Paris has six major train stations, each serving different regions/directions. The largest and most famous is Gare du Nord, but double check your tickets for the correct station when departing.

French Train System: The national train company is SNCF (Société nationale des chemins de fer français). Their website is where you can find the best pricing for tickets in advance. They also cover international train routes and include some bus routes.

Eurostar: Coming down from the UK? Take the direct route from London via the Chunnel. If you have time to plan, Eurostar offers fairly regular discounts via email.

Lockers: If you have packed light, you can leave your luggage at Gare du Nord. Note that the luggage lockers are quite a hike from the attached RER Station. I like to pretend I’m Jason Bourne as I weave through the station. 😉

By Bus

If you have lots of time but not so much money, bus can be an option. Check out Omio for information on the French and European bus system.

Getting Around Paris

When you think of getting from Point A to Point B in Paris, of course you think of the Metro. But the City of Light offers many options to get around!

RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) oversees the Paris transit system. The website has seen a lot of improvements lately, but if you feel like you can’t find what you are looking for in English, switch to the French version and let your browser translate it.

What we think of as the “Metro System” actually includes several parts. Nearly all parts use interchangeable tickets, called “t+”. They are available as individual tickets or in passes. Check out the current prices on all ticket options here.

The old paper tickets are being phased out. You can pay as you on the app or, if you are staying for a longer time, it is worth setting up a Navigo pass. You can use the pass on the app or get a physical pass to scan as well. Note that there are two Navigo versions, the Weekly/Monthly option and the Navigo Easy Pass (Passe Navigo Easy), for rechargeable single tickets.

There is also a Paris Visitor’s Pass, but this is not, in my opinion, the best option. I would go with the transit-for-locals options. They are less fuss and you can use the app for more flexibility.

The other important part to note is that the transit system is zoned. You will need to buy the appropriate ticket/pass to cover the distance you are traveling. If you buy a point-to-point ticket on a machine or have a 5-zone pass, then you are good to go. Otherwise, make sure that the ticket you have is robust enough or you can be fined.

The (almost) All Powerful t+ Ticket
The (almost) All Powerful t+Ticket

There are some exceptions to what the tickets and passes cover. The airports in general require their own ticket. See this list from RATP. For CDG only (not the other two!), if you have a 5-zone pass you are covered.

The Transilliens train system requires a different ticket, the Ile-de-France ticket. Your regular t+ will not be valid for those trips.

Your Options

The Metro: This is the classic Paris subway system and, depending on your lodgings, will probably be your most used transit option. Paris By Train offers a great introduction. It is thankfully a very easy system to use and the stops in central Paris are not far apart. The entire Metro system takes the t+ ticket (watch your zones). The current Metro map is available here.

The RER: The Réseau Express Régional (RER) are the suburban trains. They run through the city and terminate in the ‘burbs. RER B serves CDG directly and ORY indirectly via the OrlyVal train. RER C will take you to Versailles. RER A will get you to Mickey and EuroDisney. Because the lines have multiple terminus points, make sure you get on the correct train when you board.

When you leave an RER station, you will be required to scan your ticket/pass again. If you have a paper ticket, don’t throw it away or put it too deep in your purse! This is true even if you took a Metro line but are exiting through an RER-serviced station.

You’ll know when you are on an RER train–they are much larger and some have two levels. The train stations also feel a bit more like traditional train stations. Lastly, watch the zones on your tickets! It’s easy to shortchange the zone and this can result in a fine. Check out the RER zone map here.

Trams: The surface Tram lines on the outskirts of Paris are growing day-by-day. They also use the t+ tickets and passes. Watch your zones here as well, they tend to criss-cross zones. The Tram map is here.

The Transilliens System: If you are looking to go further afield, you may end up using the Transilliens system. These trains require a different ticket! You will need an Ile-de-France ticket and will need to purchase one for each individual trip. The trains connect into the larger system in central Paris at some of the major train stations and head out into the suburbs.

To make it complicated this part of the system is run by SNCF not RATP, but the lines are also named with letters. You can tell them apart from RER trains on the map by the square around the letter (RER trains have a circle). The ticket will also look very similar, avoid mixing it up with your regular t+ Paris tickets. Lastly, the tickets will not be available at all metro stations. You’ll need a machine labeled “Ile de France.”

By Bus: The train system may get all the press but Paris’ bus system blankets the city in transit coverage. It is extensive, check out the map here. Buses use the handy t+ ticket. You cannot switch between trains and buses on the same ticket! You will need to use a separate ticket or scan your pass again (you will be charged for a new ticket on the Navigo Easy Pass). The good news is that the t+ ticket is good for entire bus system, including the express buses shown on the Transiliens map (make sure your zones are covered). While buses are subject to Paris traffic, they often have dedicated lanes and fill in the gaps between metro stations. Check them out if you need an economic way to traverse the city.

Airport Buses: Airport buses come in several varieties:

Public Direct Shuttle Buses: These are run by RATP and take you directly to CDG (RoissyBus) and ORY (OrlyBus). These are direct buses, not normal public buses. They are not covered by any pass. Tickets can be purchased from machines, in advance through ParisInfo, and from the bus driver. These are the only bus options from central Paris.

Public Buses: You can take public buses from metro/train stations outside central Paris to the CDG and ORY. The ticket price will match the zones travelled. There are no public buses from central Paris (the closest would be Gard du Nord to CDG). These use the t+ ticket.

See the airport public transit map here.

Commercial Direct Shuttle Buses: Currently, there are no commercial direct shuttle buses (April 2022).

Beauvais Shuttle: Beauvais offers it’s own private shuttle service from the Porte Maillot metro station (a bit outside of central Paris) to the airport.

For the Night Owl: Noctilliens is the after-hours bus system that extends the functional hours of the entire transit system in metro Paris. If you need public transit after your metro/RER line has stopped running, check the available night owl options. Most of the Metro trains depart until midnight (1am on the weekends) from central Paris, but the RER trains end fairly early (around 8-9pm) because they serve commuters. Noctillien buses don’t cover all the routes, check out the map here.

For Something Different: The trusty t+ ticket also covers a little known Parisian oddity, the Montmartre Funicular. If you are going to see Sacré-Cœur, this a unique way to get up there. The closest Metro stops are Abbesses and Anvers. Note that it does require a separate ticket or charge to your Easy Pass.

Plan Your Transit Trip

You can plan your itinerary in several ways:

RATP Website Itinerary Planner
Next Stop Paris App for iOS and Android. Tourist-friendly app from RATP
RATP App for iOS and Android. This is the app for Locals and has more real-time info. Partially in English. and the App for iOS and Android help with regional trains not covered by RATP.

Want to know more about transit in Paris? Check out Paris By Train. It is an awesome resource put together by the dedicated Ben Lam for all things train in the Paris region. If you have questions about how it all works, it is the best place to start.