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It's our last day in Paris, and I FINALLY took the bus !

It's our last day in Paris, and I FINALLY took the bus !

Mar 9th, 2010, 01:24 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,617
Even though I take buses often, I would still recommend the metro for most tourists, and that is not because I just want the bus to myself. The metro is exact and rarely subject to delays, which is not the case of buses. Sometimes a crowd of people will wait stupidly for a bus even though it is posted that due to such-and-such political demonstration, service is suspended from 14:00 to 18:00. So if you want to take the bus, please remember to check the posted notices!
kerouac is online now  
Mar 9th, 2010, 02:21 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 8,285
I found what kerouac said to be very true. We ran into suspended service and did not know where the next bus stop for the line was. A charming older French woman walked us to the next stop. (It wasn't as simple as just walking down the street). I love the Metro and am a Metro rat. That being said I have run into Metro closures due to accidents or construction and had to take a bus. A combination works best for me.
gomiki is online now  
Mar 15th, 2010, 12:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 18
I would like to know the exact procedure that you follow when boarding and leaving a Paris bus. I will be using tickets. What do I do with the ticket when getting on the bus? Do I keep the ticket? Should I say anything to the driver?

My wife uses a wheelchair occasionally. How convenient is it to bring a wheelchair on the bus?

I think I am more apprehensive about using the bus because I'm afraid of being yelled at in French if I don't follow correct procedures. Nobody ever seems to talk about that.
ShutterbugBill is offline  
Mar 15th, 2010, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 3,037
I'm a bit busphobic too, mainly because I always assume that the metro/tube/subway will be faster. Then again, I absolutely loved the bus system in Rome.

I took the bus a couple of times when I was in Paris a couple of years ago and it was fine. IIRC they have dedicated bus lanes which helps avoid congestion in traffic. I think though, for the reasons kerouac mentions, I still prefer the metro overall.
Apres_Londee is offline  
Mar 15th, 2010, 01:30 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,499

- enter the bus at the front. Many people say "Bonjour" to the driver.

- there is a ticket reader on a pole just behind the driver, so it is just to your left as you walk the step or two towards the driver.

- insert your ticket. The ticket reader pulls the ticket in, reads it, and pushes it back out. I think there is a chime indicating that the ticket is valid.

- keep your validated ticket until you get off the bus. If you bought your ticket from a kiosk or tabac, you can use the same ticket to board another bus within 90 minutes of boarding the first bus.

- proceed towards the rear. Many of the seats at the front — generally those that are easiest to get in and out of — are priority seating for those needing a seat.

- push the "Next stop" button (they are all over the bus) when you are approaching your stop. Buses have route maps that tell you the name of the next stop and many have GPS or some such thing that displays what the next stop is.

- exit at the rear.

Can't help you on the wheelchair except to say that there is priority seating for those who need it and there is generally a fairly open space mid-bus for such things as strollers.

Enjoy the ride ...

AnselmAdorne is offline  
Mar 15th, 2010, 03:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,607
I've been on an occasional bus where people got on in a wheelchair -- I think maybe I was on one over in the 7th arr. last time I was in Paris that had a special lift for that.

Paris buses work like any bus about anywhere -- there's a place up front that is a machine where it is obvious you'll stick in your ticket. Yes, you watch for your stops, and there are lines/buttons to push if you want to light up for a stop. This is true of any bus I've been on in any city. And you get out at the rear if you are near the rear, but if you are near the front with 50 people crammed in-between you and the rear door, you do not go out the rear door, but the front. All you'd have to do is watch what the person in front does. Lots of buses are more crowded than the metro in my experience. It really depends on the time of day and the line. I like them in the middle of the day, or if I'm not in a hurry or would need a metro plan where I'd have to transfer several times (although not a lot of buses will solve that, but sometimes they will).

Here's a map showing all lines that are wheelchair accessible:

Note the little blue wheelchair icon. Some lines are not available in the evenings or on Sundays (will be blank or have a line through them which means only partly, so I'd avoid). Now you have to go look at the map of a particular line you want and see which stops are accessible. If they are not, there will be a yellow triangle on the stop. For example, here is line 68, one of my favorites:

You'll see that Blanche stop is not accessible, for example. You can print out any bus line you want on www.ratp.fr
Just go to "plans de lignes" about in the middle of the front page and type in the numbers you want in the box. Or, you can take the URL I gave above and change the "68" number in it to other numbers, most likely.
Christina is offline  
Mar 16th, 2010, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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Wheelchairs enter the buses through the middle door -- that's where the ramp comes out, and of course that is also the area where there is space for a wheelchair.
kerouac is online now  
Mar 18th, 2010, 05:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Thank you very much Anselm, Christina and Kerouac for the information on Paris bus protocol. I appreciate it.
ShutterbugBill is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 08:37 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 69
I will be visiting Paris soon and will definitely try to take more buses than metro so that I can see places.

On using the same ticket to take a second bus within 90 mins of puchasing, is it just the boarding time that matters ? Just to make sure.

Can someone recommend a route and bus number between 2 useful stops that is interesting for bus-seeing and not walkable ?
fcuklp is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 01:37 PM
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Posts: 1,766
I'm another bus convert! It took me quite a few trips to Paris before I tried it, too. Now I LOVE the buses. Especially with the Navigo Pass.
Sue4 is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 02:08 PM
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fcuklp - what do you mean by "not walkable?" The only part of Paris, that I can think of, where there are streets that you can't walk is Etoile - the circle around the Arch of Triumph.

Transfer within 90 minutes of boarding time. You could have purchased the ticket a year ago so purchase day/time does not matter.
adrienne is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 34
I can't tell you how happy I was to find this thread. Because of mobility issues (stairs etc.) I feel that the bus will be a good option for us. Also, there is a bus going right by our apt. I never found an answer to my questions anywhere else. One further question, Can you stay on a bus and make a complete loop and return to your starting point? Do you have to get off and on again? Can you go in the reverse direction as long as it is within 90 minutes? We will get the trans pass for the middle week of our vacation, but there will be several days on either end where individual tickets will be cheaper. I hated to just wing it and be embarassed by not knowing what the protocol is. The explanation about putting the ticket in the machine again was very good. Thank you again.
aferrick is offline  
Mar 18th, 2010, 07:32 PM
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You are not supposed to get on the same bus in the opposite direction as a transfer. If there is a different bus that goes back the way you are going, however, that will work as a transfer as long as it is within 90 minutes.

I don't know about every bus, but the ones I have been on do not make a loop. You have to get off at the end and get on again in the opposite direction.
Nikki is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,357
The buses are great. I happen to have access to so many different routes nearby. Combine that with a Navigo Decouverte and you are ready to hop on/off and just go. I rarely use the metro, anymore. I wish I had tried the buses sooner!

gracejoan3 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 06:22 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Kerouac wrote some days ago that Metro to bus transfers are in the works.

On a Sunday in October, 2009, we were able to use Metro tickets again on the bus within the 90 minute limit. This may have been an experimental situation. If you try it, be sure to have a fresh ticket ready in case the used ticket bounces but you have nothing to lose by trying as long as, at some point, you have a valid passage.

We almost never take the Metro except in bad weather or on Sundays and holidays. The little bus guides from the newsstand make it all very easy.
Ackislander is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 34
I'm really interested in the metro to bus situation. Some of the advice is contradictory, but I think the best advice here is to have another ticket very handy so that you can proceed without making everyone mad behind you and being an embarassed tourist.
aferrick is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 11:45 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,285
I love the bus. If you avoid the buses during rush hours, the passengers on the bus are quite helpful. No need to worry about embarrassing yourself, everyone has had their first time on a bus at some point - they'll help you out. We use the maps at the bus stop - I find them easier than the website (it's so much bigger!). And there are people there to help. I have hopped off the bus quite a few times when there was something interesting that I saw through the window. Can't do that on the Metro. Just give up your seat if a senior gets on. I got quite a scolding once!!! (I was not paying attention, I was looking out the window!) Unless going a long distance, the bus is pretty efficient. Love it! And London and NYC, too. No more underground traveling for me.
christabir is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 12:12 PM
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On a week long trip to Paris 4 years ago with family we took metro 1/2 the time and bus 1/2 time so I can speak to the advantages/disadvantages.
Metro Advantages: Reliability and speed when going farther distances. Use of the bus was quicker for shorter trips, but the bus can be slowed by traffic/construction, etc. Also, if you miss one train, the next one is usually not far behind. If you just miss a bus, wait times are a bit more variable (but not always)

Bus advatages: As noted above, we just seemed to be more relaxed on the bus. Better views of the city going by. Also, buses, I would propose, are more family friendly. When I was trying to heard the kids around a busy Metro, it was hard at times to keep everyone in the same corral, and my kids are pretty obediant. With the bus, it is obvious to the driver that you are a family, so nothing happens until everyone is on and everyone is off. Finally, something not noted above, is that some Metro transfers actually involve going up/down alot of stairs and long walks. Not so with buses. This, along with the fact that we had a bus stop right outside of our hotel, means that bus travel was significantly easier on our legs. Very Important on the day you want to climb the Notre Dame Towers on spend the day at the Louvre on your feet!

Finally, Americans should note that Parissean buses have easy to follow route plans on the inside of the bus and electonic voice and light messages about the name of the approaching stop. This made the whole process idiot proof. So, yes, I prefer buses. But flexibility is key. On some routes, bus was the better option, and on others, Metro was.
docdan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 12:25 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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If you plan to use the bus a lot, I strongly suggest you invest in a small book we found most useful; "Le petit Parisien, 3 Plans Per Arrondissement" by L'Indispensable. It has a blue cover, and you can pick one up for a few Euro at most book stores or Tabacs. It contains, as it says, three maps for each arrondisement, one regular map, one of the Metro routes, and the third of the bus routes. There are overall maps in the back.

It takes a few minutes to figure out how it works, but will get you from one place to the next with a minimum of fuss, IME.
nukesafe is offline  
Mar 19th, 2010, 12:34 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 243
lifes2short: great post! I am another bonafide "busophobic" too, and your thread makes me want to catch the bus to Paris, right now! Thank you for providing the necessary push that I need! Now, are there any gypsies in Paris?

Okay, that was said in jest. Didn't want to provoke another violent thread which seems to be quite prevalent at Fodor's nowadays......
gelatolover is offline  

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