Taking the bus is a bit more complicated than using the Metro. You have to do a bit more homework to make it work, but then you can reap the rewards. The bus is vastly better than the Metro if you are travelling with someone older or less mobile, or indeed if you are someone older or less mobile. There can be many, many sets of stairs getting onto and out of your Metro platform, and changing platforms at the bigger stations can be a very long walk underground. Ride the bus and it's all above ground, no stairs, no unintentional walking for 15 minutes underneath Paris at Chatelet.
Riding the bus also gives you a much better sense of where you are, and helps integrate maps with actual vision. Whilst popping up from the Metro into a new quartier is always exciting, by taking the bus you see how you get there and see much magnificence on the way- monuments, museums, shops, amazing vistas when you cross the Seine.
I used the buses a few times in 2013 and when I was in Paris last we travelled on buses exclusively, and I only ventured into a Metro station to get our weekly passes topped up.
The bus stops are all named stops.
Each stop is packed with information. It will list the buses that stop there.
And the bus stop will also show you a route map of the bus routes. These are very handy, they are everywhere. They show the names of the stops, and any differences in the route for either direction. I learnt more every time I looked at one of these. The bus route maps are also displayed inside the bus.
|Vous êtes ici = You are here|
Bus stops have a digital sign that tells you when the next bus is due. These are pretty accurate. There's always something fascinating to see though while you're waiting for the bus....
|Bus stops have great views while you wait!|
Beware sometimes the same bus stop may be used by a bus travelling in either direction e.g. #69 at Solferino-Bellechasse. This is rare I think but we got caught out, and it was only as the Eiffel Tower kept looming larger and larger that I realised we were heading the wrong way.
Sometimes there are temporary stops for roadworks or special events.
|Swipe your Navigo at the purple reader|
Parents with strollers will enter via the back door to park the pram in the designated area, or sometimes mailmen with trolleys.
Once on the bus, move towards the back- you need to leave by the back doors anyhow. It can get Very Crowded in peak hour, or at random other times, or if the bus has been delayed. The Metro can get just as crowded too though.
More modern buses will indicate the next stop and you can follow progress on the route map.
Navigating by bus takes a little bit of preparation, more so than the Metro. But there are plenty of websites and an app to help you.
RATP have a fantastic interactive Guide to the bus routes of Paris. Once again there is a wealth of information presented in the guide. It takes a number of uses to get used to it, and to realise how much information is there.
Click on a destination or interchange and it will show you all the buses that travel through there.
RATP also have a website to help plan your trip (by rail, bus or tramway). You can select many options.
|I'm not sure why it says"most amount walking" when I was using it |
last year it said "least amount walking"
It then will offer a suggested route. This one taking 14 minutes, with 1 minute of walking. There are often many different options so if you repeat the same search you'll often get a different result.
For a while I was only using the website at home, but it wasn't handy when out and about if you did some different things during the day and needed to change your plans, or ended up somewhere unexpected. And so I looked for an app. There's an app! And it's very, very handy (you do need to have your international roaming sorted out though so you don't get huge phone bills). I used it constantly.
Making connections is the hardest part, and can be a little tricky at times. There can be many bus stops at some locations such as Hotel de Ville for example. But checking the maps on the app, and also the Plan du Quartier at the bus stop.
You can buy tickets in many ways.
Directly from the bus driver with cash, which is not preferred as it takes longer and holds up the bus, and is the most expensive way to travel. Still cheap enough though at 2 euros per trip.
With a prepurched ticket- from some Tabacs, newspaper kiosks, or any Metro station (the same ticket works on any Metro, bus or tram- you can change modes or lines for any 90 minute journey). You can buy single tickets, or books (carnets) of 10 tickets which are a little cheaper. You can select English to when using a machine to buy your tickets, but it's pretty easy to get through in French too. Patientez.
Navigo Decouverte pass this last trip. It was fantastic! Cheap, easy and quick. I bought mine at a Metro station- you need a bit of preparation for this with passport sized photos- although of course there are photo booths at train stations a la Amelie. Some websites suggest that non-French credit cards may be rejected by the ticket machines- I had no trouble at all with my Australian Visa card with a chip. The Navigo Decouverte is valid for 5 years, so I still have it in my handbag just in case I need to swipe onto a Paris bus sometime soon.
Check out my Paris for Tourists- What's On In Paris
|Paris in July|
|Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme|
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog