Using the Paris Metro
Note: Never board a metro train without a ticket!
The Paris Metro is open daily fom 05.30 to 00.30 (half past midnight). There are maps on the walls in all the stations which clearly show all the lines and stations, and you can also ask for a map at the ticket offices.
Each of the train lines has a number and a name (based on the stations at each end of the line) - hence for the very first line built the name is Line 1: La Défense - Chateau de Vincennes.
You can see a section of the map for the centre of Paris on our Paris maps page, or a complete map of the Paris Metro including the suburbs, RER etc on the official Paris transport site. If your route is complicated there are special terminals that can help you plan your route.
Paris Metro Tickets - practicalities
Tickets for the metro can be bought at either the ticket offices or from ticket machines. The most common options are to simply buy individual tickets or to buy a 'carnet' of tickets - a carnet includes 10 tickets and saves about 30% on the cost of buying individual tickets.
Other options are also available: tickets that last all day, all week, all month, all year. Another ticket option is the Paris Visite Pass that lasts for 1,2, 3 or 5 consecutive days and includes RER trains and various other routes (eg trains to Disneyland and Versailles Palace). The Paris Visite pass also includes discounts on admissions to various attractione etc
If you don't want the hassle of trying to get to grips with all the restrictions and rules that might apply to different ticket types, and are planning to stay within the city for a couple of days and only occasionally using the Paris Metro, a carnet is a good choice (or if there is more than one of you - the carnet gives you 10 tickets, it doesn't matter if it's one person taking 10 journeys or 10 people taking one journey).
To gain access to the train lines you pass your ticket into a slot next to the turnstile. Remember to take your ticket out of the other end - you need to keep it with you for the length of the journey. Official inspectors can ask to see your Paris Metro tickets at any point in the journey, and you will be fined if you can't produce a valid ticket.
As a tourist you can try looking bewildered and pretending you don't understand and you might just get away with it, but it's not recommended unless absolutely necessary!
See our Paris Breaks section to plan your Paris visit.