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67thAve

Paris - Transit advice?

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So there's a decent chance that I'll be going to Paris in June 2018 for about 7-8 days. I plan to try to not just cover parts of Paris, but also explore the Ile-De-France as a whole. If anyone is familiar with the Paris public transit network (Metro/Tram/RER/Bus/Transillien), I have a few questions:

1) Are buses and trains air-conditioned?

2) Are there certain lines/stations that should be avoided for safety reasons?

3) Are there certain lines/stations (except the most famous ones, such as Gare du Nord - no one can miss those!) that are worth a journey without exception?

4) Are paper maps/schedules obtainable?

5) How crowded are rush hours?

 

Those are the most pressing questions I have in my mind right now. If anyone has answers, that would be great!

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As to question 5 crowding is a huge issue in Paris. Most metro lines run at 2 minute headways during rush hour and Lines 13 and 14 are among the most frequent subway lines on earth. The former sees 36 TPH during rush hour and the latter sees 38. The RER A is the most utilized commuter rail service outside of Japan with trains on that line (well set of lines listed under one route) carrying over 1 million per weekday and double decker trains run on 2 minute headways when all route patterns are combined. Bus routes tend to carry similar numbers to NYC so on the busiest ones you'll see overcrowding. The kind of headways you'll see in Paris would not be run if the services aren't being packed to the rafters so prepare for crowding. However, off-peak frequencies are also great on many routes and because of that crowding can be easily avoided if you're trying just to visit major attractions.

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On 10/8/2017 at 8:36 PM, 67thAve said:

So there's a decent chance that I'll be going to Paris in June 2018 for about 7-8 days. I plan to try to not just cover parts of Paris, but also explore the Ile-De-France as a whole. If anyone is familiar with the Paris public transit network (Metro/Tram/RER/Bus/Transillien), I have a few questions:

1) Are buses and trains air-conditioned?

2) Are there certain lines/stations that should be avoided for safety reasons?

3) Are there certain lines/stations (except the most famous ones, such as Gare du Nord - no one can miss those!) that are worth a journey without exception?

4) Are paper maps/schedules obtainable?

5) How crowded are rush hours?

 

Those are the most pressing questions I have in my mind right now. If anyone has answers, that would be great!

Last time I was there, 3 years ago, there was no A/C.

I never felt unsafe on any subway line. Did not use buses or trams.

Not sure if you can get paper timetables, but their website has lots of maps, etc., that you can print out. I think paper maps are available from tourist-oriented shops.

I second the other comment about RER crowding. The RER line from CDG Airport got crush-loaded by the time it reached downtown, and this was at 11 a.m. But the metro wasn't that bad. It comes so frequently that you can aways take the next train.

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You should always be aware of your surroundings. I can't stress this enough. When I lived in Italy, I saw so many Americans at the American Consulate in Florence the times I had to go there to take care of financial transactions because they had their passports pick-pocketed and were ripped off. Do your best to avoid overcrowding because that's what the pick-pocketers like. I always had inside pockets and had things like my wallet hidden so that I wasn't a victim. It helps if you speak the language too. I speak Italian and several other languages, so people could never tell if I was from there or where, and I loved screwing with people that way because I would refuse to speak English in certain instances where I didn't want to stand out so to speak. It allowed them not to be able to stereotype me as the "dumb American" who could be easy prey. 

Being that it's Western Europe, there can be a false sense of security. Crime is generally not a big problem, but stabbings and pick-pocketing IS a problem throughout Europe. We were given a heads-up to this before I left for my study abroad and then again upon arriving at the private university I attended in Florence. In other words since gun control is so strict in Europe, people are more likely to be stabbed with a knife than shot. Again crime is not a big problem so I don't want you freaking out. You're a New Yorker. Just use your street smarts.

The other thing you should know about is the payment system. Europe is big on the "honor system", and in France, the French do their damnest to take advantage and not pay. Their attitude is they feel they already pay enough taxes and so on. That could be why the system is so crowded. When people don't pay it can be difficult to assess how many people are actually using the system. I watched a big thing about this a while ago on a German TV network that covers news in Europe (DW-Deutsche Welle).

You may see people hopping the turnstile there or getting on an Intercity train like I would witness in Italy where people would board and then get off before the ticket collector came to take tickets. 

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8

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