Métro Instructions - Examples of Simple and Difficult Métro Instructions

Remember the number one rule in Métro Instructions. If you are confused or think you are lost, get out at the next stop, move to the side out of the way of the passing people and get your bearings.  You may be going the right direction, but it is okay to confirm and get back on.  It will only be a few minutes until the next Métro comes along and it will not cost any more money.

If you have gone the wrong direction, cross over to the other side and get back on. Then, you will be going the right direction.  The Métro in Paris is one of the simplest in the world.  The line you are riding goes and comes only one way – back and forth.  You determine the direction by looking at the names of the stops at the ends of the line.  Board the Métro going in the direction that stops at the station you need.

General Métro Instructions:

  1. Find the Métro stop that is nearest to the place you want to visit.
  2. Find that stop on the Métro map and determine the color of the line that stop is on.
  3. Follow that color towards the left and learn the name of the station at the end of the line.
  4. Then, follow the color back to the right and learn the name at the end of the line in that direction.
  5. Put those two names together and you have the name of your Métro line.
  6. If you want, verify the color of the line and the line number. I think that is two more things to try to remember.  Meaning two more things I could easily forget. So, I focus only on the beginning and ending stations.
  7. Find yourself on your map and see if you are close to a stop on that line. If so, great.
  8. If not, find a stop that is near where you are and then go to that entrance.
  9. Buy a ticket. Look for the signs listing the stops, and the ending point for the direction you are going.
  10. Go to the platform and catch the train.
  11. Get out at your stop and exit the station. A map of the area (plan du quartier) is near the exit and you can get your bearings.

Simple Métro Example

(No transfer needed to get to my destination.)

  1. I want to get a crêpe with Nutella next to the entrance to the Tuilleries at the Place de la Concorde (Could something be better?)
  2. I pull out my Métro map and find “Concorde.”  (There are several exits at Place de la Concorde. But no matter which one I actually exit, I will find myself climbing up the steps very close to where they guillotined many poor souls.)
  3. I look toward my right hand and see the end stop is “Château de Vincennes.”  (And I note the line is yellow and it is Line 1.)
  4. I look toward my left hand and see the end stop is “La Défense.”
  5. Therefore, the name of the Métro line I am looking for is “La Défense/Château de Vincennes.”
  6. I am at the Arc de Triomphe. So, I look on the map and find that the closest Métro stop to me is “Charles de Gaulle Étoile”
  7. “Charles de Gaulle Étoile” is in yellow and I see that it is also a stop on the “La Défense/Château de Vincennes” line. So, it is a direct route.
  8. I find the Métro entrance on the sidewalk side of the Arc de Triomphe. I enter the Métro station, buy a ticket at the machine or from the ticket seller and go through the turnstile.
  9. I look for the signs close to the ceiling or on the wall for “La Défense/Château de Vincennes. I find a sign that points it out to me.
  10. Then I look on the sign for the direction of “Château de Vincennes”.
  11. I take the steps at the sign “Château de Vincennes” and then find myself at a platform.
  12. The train comes and I get on.
  13. The train begins moving, I look up toward the ceiling of the Métro and find the same route map that was on my pocket map.  I see “Charles de Gaulle Étoile” and then I see the next stop is supposed to be “George V.”
  14. The Métro starts to slow down and the wall tiles state “Argentine.”
  15. Uh-OH!!!!!  That isn’t going the right direction!!!!!!!!  What do I do???????
  16. Get off the train.
  17. Find a sign that states “La Défense/Château de Vincennes.” Then, find the sign that states “Château de Vincennes.”  (Many times this is up the steps over the tracks and down again so you get the train going the opposite direction.)
  18. Go down to the platform for the train going towards “Château de Vincennes.”
  19. The train comes and I get on.
  20. The train begins moving, I look up toward the ceiling of the Métro and find the same route map that was on my pocket map.  I see the next stop should be “Charles de Gaulle Étoile” (back where I started – all of 5 minutes later).
  21. The Métro starts to slow down and the wall tiles state “Charles de Gaulle Étoile” – I am going in the right direction – yippee!
  22. We pass a few more stops and then, “Concorde” – right on the money!!
  23. I exit (same feeling as when I was coming into Paris – for me this is each time I exit a Métro station).
  24. I find myself by the Crillon Hotel.  Not perfect, but the city is, so who cares?
  25. I walk towards the Tuilleries. The gardens have huge gates and a crêpe stand by the entrance.
  26. Could it have been any better????  Maybe if I didn’t take the first train going the wrong direction, but so what? I am here. I order my crêpe. I sit and look one way toward the Arc de Triomphe and the other way toward the Louvre.  Incredible!

Difficult Métro Example

(A joke – no Métro instructions are difficult! This includes a transfer.)

  1. Still looking for my crêpe with Nutella next to the entrance to the Tuilleries at the Place de la Concorde.
  2. I find “Concorde” on the Métro map.  (At many Métro stops there are multiple exits, but all relatively close.  At this stop, there are several exits, but no matter which one I actually exit, I will find myself climbing up the steps very near where they guillotined many poor souls.)
  3. I look to the right and see the end stop is “Château de Vincennes.”  (And, I note the line is yellow and it is Line 1.)
  4. I look to the left and see the end stop is “La Défense.”
  5. Therefore, the name of the Métro line I am looking for is “La Défense/Château de Vincennes.”
  6. I am at Place Victor Hugo, so I look on the map and find that the closest Métro stop to me is “Victor Hugo.”
  7. “Victor Hugo” is on the blue line and Line 2.
  8. So I follow the blue line – keep looking, it is all the way to the right – and see the end is “Nation.”
  9. I look to the left and see the end is “Porte Dauphine.”
  10. The Métro I am looking for is yellow but I see that they share a common stop, “Charles de Gaulle Étoile.” So, that will be my stop to change trains.
  11. I see that if I get on the “Porte Dauphine/Nation” line going in the direction of “Nation” I can go one stop, change trains and then be on my way to Place de la Concorde.
  12. I find the Métro entrance on the sidewalk of Place Victor Hugo and enter the Métro station, buy a ticket at the machine or from the ticket seller and go through the turnstile.
  13. I look for the sign for “Nation” (this is a relatively small station and it only has two directions, “Nation” and “Porte Dauphine”.
  14. I find the sign for “Nation.”
  15. I take the steps down and then find myself at a platform.
  16. The train comes and I get on.
  17. The train begins moving, I look up toward the ceiling of the Métro and find the same route map that was on my pocket map.  I see the next stop is supposed to be “Charles de Gaulle Étoile.”
  18. The Métro starts to slow down and the wall tiles state “Charles de Gaulle Étoile.” This is my stop.
  19. I get out and then look for signs with, “La Défense/Château de Vincennes.” This is a larger station, so there will be multiple signs for other lines. Find the sign for “Château de Vincennes.”
  20. Go down to the platform for the train going towards “Château de Vincennes.”
  21. The train comes and I get on.
  22. The train begins moving, I look up toward the ceiling of the Métro and find the same route map that was on my pocket map – it is in yellow.  I see the next stop should be “George V”.
  23. The Métro starts to slow down and the wall tiles state “George V” – it is the right direction – yippee!
  24. We pass a few more stops and then, “Concorde” – right on the money!!
  25. Get off the train and exit the station (same feeling as when I was coming into Paris – this is really each time you exit a Métro station).
  26. I find myself by the Crillon Hotel.  Not perfect, but the city is perfect so who cares.
  27. I walk towards the Tuilleries – the gardens have huge gates and a crêpe stand by the entrance.
  28. Could it have been any better????  I am here. I order my crêpe. I sit and look one way toward the Arc de Triomphe and the other way toward the Louvre.  Incredible.

For everything you want to know, and in English, take a look at https://www.ratp.fr/en to find maps, timetables, user guides and an easy to use trip planner.

Still want more?  Visit the absolutely amazing site, ParisByTrain.

And, Métro workers can go on strike, so it is good to know other ways of getting around Paris.

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