If you're going to travel underground you need a map. While there are good Metro maps mounted on the walls of all the Paris Metro stations, you're going to need your own map to help you plot your route before you jump on a train. But, these days, you probably already have a darn good Metro map in your pocket.
Until now, we've also recommended Paris guide books that feature good Metro maps, but with one exception we've dropped that practice since most of us have Google or Apple map apps on our phones. Both of those services are able to plot routes and directions using the Paris Metro. But the best Metro map and service is the smart phone app created by RATP, the operator of the Paris Metro.
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This is now the best way to carry around a map of Paris and its Metro system. This handy, free smart phone app, created by RATP, the operator of the Paris Metro, has everything you need to navigate the Metro and buses of Paris.
The app has good maps of the Metro and of the city itself. When you have a data connection you can look up the best route from address to address and it will return the fastest way — by foot, Metro, bus, even by car and bike. There is information on tickets, night bus service, train stations and airports.
Here's another great feature — even if you've turned off your cellular data roaming (and who wants to pay those high data-roaming charges?) the included map of Paris still shows your exact location and you can use it to navigate the streets of the city. We're not savvy enough to know why that feature is still available when data roaming is turned off, but we use it all the time. Download it the usual way, from your Apple or Google sources.
Michelin is the premier name in Paris maps. This is an easy-to-carry map of Paris, arranged by the areas of Paris. Each double-page map includes an inset map showing all the arrondissements as well as the specific area that page covers. There are 144 pages of maps, index, and appendices. Except for the legend pages, the book is in French, although that's not a real problem for a map book!
The Metro map is very good. It covers a two-page spread right at the back of the book, so it's very easy to find. This Metro map Paris shows all the lines of the Metro, the RER and the tramway. We like the fact that the Metro lines are presented on a map of Paris, so you have a real idea of where each line runs. We like this "human" approach much better than the "graphic" versions where design overrules usefulness.
Also included are smaller-scale RER and rail maps, bus maps and bus info, and airport information.
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RATP, the operator of the Metro, RER and bus lines in Paris, has a very useful tool on their website. It's an interactive route-plotting tool that lets you put in your point of origin and your destination, and then returns the best route for you. You can choose to travel by rail or by bus, you can choose to find the quickest route or the route with the fewest changes.
Instead of just accepting Metro stations, the interactive Metro map Paris tool lets you input your apartment or hotel address as well as the exact address you are going to.
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