OK! This is a bit negative article. However, this is something that needs to be unleashed I think. Everything about the Public Transportation isn’t super bad, but overall this transit system seems to be made for getting tourists confused. It seems like the whole Paris area is into a mess of a transit system that is effective when taking it, but not at all effective regarding using it. Paris citizens might be used to the total chaos, but for many tourists it is a nightmare.
Know Where You Are Going or it can result in a Nightmare
When you arrive at your airport. Let’s say it is Paris Orly, which is in the south area of Paris. From here you have several transit options. One of them is an automatic mover that runs on the right-side. This automatic transit people mover system, manages to take take you to Antony station, which is operated by RER Line B. Do NOT take this local-train line towards Saint-Remy, because that is the opposite of Paris center. Also do remember that RER (which is the local train-metro system in Paris) is not running on the same platform side like the Metro and most of the Tram lines in Paris. All RER lines runs on the left side. Many writes many positive words about it and it is effective when you take it. However! They, do run on the opposite side of many other systems in Paris. So it is a left-side operation compared to the right-side operation of the Metro and most of the Tram lines. So, if you change to and from RER be aware of this!
The other transit option that you can take from Paris Orly Airport in the south of Paris, is a totally new tram Line T7. A really nice new tram line for sure! But more comment on it later. With this line, you get connected to RER C line at Rungis La Fraternelle station and to Metro Line 7 at Villejuif. It is also this station that you use if you want to reach Orly airport. Remember this! But when Distrita staff tried this option, there was some issues at RER C that was mentioned at the digital information screens at the station. All of this information is only in French. For all of the tourists that went to that station, it was impossible to understand without asking some of the locals that didn’t really gave any informative info back. However, this wasn’t the only negative experience with RER test.
Trams does NOT run towards the same Direction Everywhere in Paris
If you think that this platform side direction thing Nightmare is over in Paris??? No, it is not! Read and we will try to guide you as much we can in this mess! It’s just incredible how such nice city as Paris is can have such unorganized transit system. It’s beyond our experience.
The maps that you find on the RER, Metro and Tram stations doesn’t tell you anything about which direction the trains runs and on which side. You are just put on a task that can be quite harsh. This task says that you MUST KNOW that RER runs on the opposite side of the Metro and most of the Tram lines. It would be really nice if I could end this here, but I can’t!
The next Nightmare that a tourist can be trapped into is the fact that some of the tram lines like T11 and T4, which is clearly seen on the transit maps at the stations in Paris does operate in a left-side operation. So, do NOT think that these takes you to the right place if you change at Villetaneuse Universite from T8 which do right-side operation and stand on the right platform on the T11 station. It will take you to the opposite direction. This happened to several tourists in this area when Distrita visited. Incredible!
Knowing Price Zone In Paris Is a Nightmare
There is no really good explanation about where the Zones is and on most of the stations the maps are so old that all of the colors showing where the Zone borders go is gone. So you end up paying a ticket without knowing if it will be active at the place where you will stay at. If you buy the wrong ticket, then you might end up with a fine of 50 Euros to get out of a Metro station. The transit company simply locks you and earn a lot’s on tourists taking their transit systems outside of Zones without knowing it. This ticket zone system in Paris is even worse than the opposite direction issues that you can experience.
The price zone maps should be updated and it should be easy to understand at all of the stations. Insisde the wagons of the new tram lines you see information screens, but neither they show anything about the price zones. They are very good at showing maps and showing where the tram is going. But for price zones there is absolute no info about it.
Fix the Public Transportation Information and get Less frustrated tourists in Paris
It is really frustrating beeing a tourist not knowing where to go. Leading in making them commenting negative things is not what you want. Look at Karlsruhe, Berlin, Amsterdam, Porto or even Oslo where the zone ticket systems ain’t too complicated and where one ticket works on several transit options. Also, if you take T11 and T4. These tram lines is not part of the Metro, RER and Paris Tram ticket system. These ticket machines for SNCF Tram lines is even harder to understand. You can’t buy a single ticket that works for one hour as we at Distrita team understood. Instead you have to buy from to another station. Why isn’t all transit systems in Paris compatible?
The ticket itself shows several transit type of icons. It doesn’t say anything on them that they’re not compatible with T11 or T4 tram lines!!! So, the Paris city authority needs to do something about it. Not everyone wants to live on expensive hotells in the city center of Paris. Many likes to live cheap on the outskirts. The transit lines in Paris covers the city pretty nicely. However, this is the only positive side in this article for sure and a honest one like everything else. However, the information about tickets, the tickets system and the ticket zone system is a total failure. People which isn’t validating their tickets can also get fined. Is this what the transportation company in the French capital earns on?
Or is all the fines and rules made to annoy people more than it should? Why so much mess? Paris is such a beautiful city in Europe and it is known in the World also. Why haven’t Distrita team seen anyone else out there write about this issue? I have searched everywhere and unless my search engines is set up totally wrong. It’s striking to see that no one else than those people on TripAdvisor page that have commented lots about everything that we have revealed here.
Here are some comments from TripAdvisor site from people’s Paris transit visit
From: Lyubov D, Astana, Kazakhstan
Very old coaches, very dirty, full of pickpocket thiefs. The metro workers are very unfriendly. Extremely complicated system of tickets, hard to understand what ticket exactly you need, especially if you do not speak French.
From: Aspasia B, Toronto, Canada
I’ll start by saying the Paris Metro is clean, quick, and easy enough to navigate once you get the hang of it.
On the other hand, I had an unpleasant experience at the Bir-Hakeim station, which services the Eiffel Tower. As we exited the station, Metro staff were waiting to check our used tickets. Not having realized I needed to keep the ticket, I’d tossed it. For not having kept it I was given a 33 euro fine (not cheap!) At first I was shocked that they wouldn’t cut a tourist some slack (nowhere did I see anything about keeping your used tickets). Afterwards I realized they were specifically targeting tourists. If you want to catch fare jumpers, you do it at a hub station–not a mainly tourist attraction station. I took the metro a number of times and never saw this take place anywhere but at Bir-Hakeim. It’s a pretty low move in a city like Paris to target tourists this way (especially since tourism is way down after what happened in November). I don’t know how often this practice occurs but it has to stop. It was a black mark on an otherwise great trip.
From: mint225 Coleraine, United Kingdom
We all had tickets, all paid, but our son walked through an open gate and therefore did not ‘validate’ his ticket – these auditors then fined us €33 on the spot…even when they knew and could see that we all had paid correctly.
Utterly dreadful bureaucratic behaviour with no forgiveness towards visitors…thankful to say that this would NOT happen in the UK and Ireland.
From: Phil L, San Luis Obispo, California
We bought a one week pass for the Metro and two days later we were checked by the Metro authorities and when we showed the passes with our names on them we were subjected to rude treatment and were fined 33 Euros each for not having a picture attached to the passes, even though our passport photos matched the names on the passes. We were not told of the photo requirement when we bought the pass, and the rude official said the passes should be only used by Parisians, and it is our fault that we do not know the French laws. It was clear that the whole thing is a revenue generating scam aimed at tourists because they were only checking on Saturday and only at the Notre Dame stop that is strictly a tourist stop on Saturdays. To think we were worried about having our pocket picked on the Metro, only to have it picked by the Metro police!
From: Annie_M1975, Saint Louis, Missouri
We had Metro stations close to our hotel. We usually got around by foot, but decided to take the Metro out to Versailles. That was a great experience although you should plan that no matter where you are in Paris, someone will ask you for money. We took the Metro for about an hour out to Versailles there and back with no issues. We thought, that was so easy to navigate that we should take Metro the opposite way to the airport back. When you purchase your tickets, nothing suggests you have to do buy something different or pay more. We purchased the tickets the same way we did for Versailles, it was a little shorter of a trip to the airport. However, right after leaving the city limits of Paris (so we were told) the people with the Metro boarded and told us we had the wrong tickets and had to purchase new ones. It was 35 euros a piece (about 75.00 us dollars) to get to the airport. Versus the 7.80 euros we’d already spent. We asked if we could then get off and not continue using this method to the airport (since at that price even a taxi was cheaper) and they told us no because we’d already crossed over by one exit. It would have been nice if this was told to us BEFORE that exit, or before boarding the train or while we were purchasing our tickets. We felt like it was a way to scam us out of $75.00 because they knew we were leaving. It was quite disappointing because the reasoning behind it didn’t make sense because that didn’t happen to us leaving the limits out to Versailles. It works well if you’re just staying within the city, but be very cautious otherwise. Any other mode of transport would have been cheaper getting us back to the airport than the Metro.
The transit authorities in Paris just don’t care about tourists. They don’t care about the lacking info about Zones in Paris and they don’t care if tourists went the wrong direction. It seems like fines is important to give. However, Distrita Team had wrong tickets on T11 but the personel didn’t fine us. We thought that one way ticket would last for the whole line. But it didn’t.
Paris really got one of world’s worst transit ticket and zone systems. Also that the transit systems uses different driving directions only confuses people even more. I really hope that someone in Paris looks at this issue. Maybe even read our article about this?
Distrita Own Experience