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Robespierre Feb 15th, 2005 03:52 PM

Paris Bus Tour for €5.30
As an alternative to the "jump on-jump off" commercial tours that cost upwards of $30, you can get a fine one-day overview of Paris by using the public transport (RATP) system for much less money. Besides the monetary savings, doing it yourself gives you much more flexibility than the canned routes of the tour buses.

Although at first glance going it alone may seem overwhelming, it's really nothing to be scared of, because even if you lose track of where you are on a bus route, there is always a Métro station nearby to get you re-oriented.

Bookmark the following site, because we will refer to it repeatedly for all of our mapping needs:


Download and print out the <i>Bus Touristique</i>, the <i>Balabus</i>, and the <i>Montmartrobus</i> maps. If you are doing this itinerary on a Sunday and plan to see Montmartre, also print out <i>Bus dimanches et f&ecirc;tes</i>.

Now press the &quot;Bus&quot; tab at the top of the box. You should see <i>Afficher le plan de la ligne no</i> followed by a blank. Put &quot;42&quot; in the blank, and press <i>OK</i>. You should see a route map of Bus #42. Click the button at the upper-left reading <i>Ouvrir ce plan en PDF</i> and print out the resulting map. Close the window, and repeat the process for buses #54, #67, #69, and #82. (Note that these route maps are not geographical; rather, they unfold each route to a linear representation.)

Almost done. Go back to the original page, and select <i>Plans de quartier de Paris</i>. These are little maps of the neighborhoods surrounding M&eacute;tro stations. Notice that there are three drop-down boxes with <i>OK</i> next to them. The maps are listed in alphabetical order in three groups; the first and last stations included in each drop-down are shown just above it. For example, the second box ranges from <i>Ga&icirc;t&eacute;</i> to <i>Pigalle</i>. Open the appropriate drop-down, highlight the station, press <i>OK</i>, print out the map, and close the window. Rinse. Repeat.

Print these:

Gare du Nord
Champ de Mars
Porte Maillot

... and any others around sights that you may want to stop off at. Ready? Let's go!

You have just arrived at Gare du Nord from London. When you exit the Eurostar gate, turn left and go all the way to the east end of the station. Follow the signs having an <b>M</b> in a circle to the M&eacute;tro station. There is also an RATP sales office along the main hall, but it may or may not be open when you arrive. If you plan to stop into many sights, get your <i>Carte Mus&eacute;es et Monuments</i> at the same time you buy your pass (the main ones on our tour covered by the card are the Louvre, Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, and Invalides). Check other threads for details.

At the M&eacute;tro ticket office or RATP bureau, buy a <b>Mobilis</b> pass for Zones 1-2. This entitles you to unlimited transport on M&eacute;tro, bus, suburban train (RER), and trams within downtown Paris for one calendar day. The zones are shown on <i>Plans des zones tarifaires</i>, and in better detail along the bottom edge of each numbered route map. If you plan to transgress your paid-for zones, learn to say, &quot;Day-soe-lay. Zheh sweez ay-tronh-zhay.&quot; (Sorry. I'm a stupid American.)

Time to head out. Refer to your map of Gare du Nord. On the east side of the station outside the north door, you will see the #42 bus stop. (Note that it says <i>H&ocirc;pital Europ&eacute;en Georges Pompidou</i>. Bus stops and M&eacute;tro lines are <u>always</u> labeled by the <b>terminus</b> of the line in the direction you will be traveling, as we will see later.) Climb aboard, show the driver your Mobilis ticket (do NOT stamp it with the machine), and find a seat, preferably on the left side. In minutes, you will be off on your great adventure.

Refer to your #42 map. Notice that each stop has a name; the name of the next stop is always displayed on a little readout in the bus. If you want to get off at a stop, wait until its name is displayed, and press the red button on the seat back or hanger pole. Get off anywhere you like, look around, get on the next #42 <i>Direction H&ocirc;pital Europ&eacute;en Georges Pompidou</i> that comes along. If the stop reads <i>Direction Gare du Nord</i>, you are on the wrong side of the street. Sights of interest along this route (and their bus stop names) include the <i>Op&eacute;ra, Madeleine, Concorde, and Tour Eiffel</i>, your destination. When you have seen enough of M. Eiffel's creation, you might want to drop in at Napoleon's tomb at <i>H&ocirc;tel des Invalides</i> (which is also a military museum). Refer to the #69 map for navigation to the <i>Esplanade des Invalides</i> (note that the return stop is a block south of the outbound).

Now look at your <i>Plan Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel</i> for the location of the stops for #82 <i>Direction Neuilly-H&ocirc;pital Am&eacute;rican</i> (there are three of them - pick the nearest one to where you wind up). Get on the next bus and ride to the <i>Porte Maillot</i> stop. You will now get on the <i>Balabus</i>, but you have a choice: if you are interested in seeing the <i>Grand Arche de la D&eacute;fense</i> close-up, you want the <i>Balabus Direction La D&eacute;fense</i>; if you'd rather not, then get on the <i>Balabus Direction Gare de Lyon</i>. Refer to your <i>Plan Porte Maillot</i> to locate these stops. Now get out your <i>Balabus</i> map and watch for your next point of interest.

<b>IMPORTANT!</b> The Grand Arch is in Tariff Zone 3, outside the validity of your Mobilis pass. If you don't want a hassle, get off (and back on later) at the <i>Pont de Neuilly - M&eacute;tro</i> stop. If you want to get closer, you can walk to it in 10 minutes (about a kilometer), or buy a 3-Zone Mobilis for &euro;7 before you start your tour.

In any case, you will next be eastbound on the <i>Balabus Direction Gare de Lyon</i>. The stops on your route will include <i>Charles de Gaulle - Etoile (2 stops), Pont Royal - Quai des Tuileries</i> (walk across the Pont Royal to the <i>Mus&eacute;ee D'Orsay), Mus&eacute;e du Louvre, Louvre - Rivoli, and Cit&eacute; - Parvis Notre Dame.</i>

Continue on to the <i>Place des Vosges, and Bastille</i>. A little further is the <i>Marais</i> district (off our bus route). If your timetable can tolerate a look, it's certainly worth the trip. If not, get off the bus at <i>Bastille - Rue Saint Antoine</i>.

Next, you will be going to <i>Pigalle</i> stop in Montmartre. The <u>quickest</u> way to get there is by taking the M&eacute;tro from <i>Bastille</i> station. Get on <i>Ligne 5 Direction Bobigny-Pablo Picasso</i> and ride to the <i>Stalingrad</i> station. Then change to <i>Ligne 2 Direction Porte Dauphine</i> and ride to the <i>Pigalle</i> station. This should take about 22 minutes total.

The other way (which will allow you to see a lot more of Paris above ground, but takes an hour) is on the #69 bus (Sunday: see <i>Bus dimanches et f&ecirc;tes</i>) <i>Direction Champ de Mars</i> at <i>Bastille - Rue Saint-Antoine</i>, on the west side of the Place de la Bastille. Get off at <i>Rue Veille du Temple-Mairie du IV</i> (third stop), and get on the #67 at the same stop. Ride it to the end of the line (<i>Pigalle</i>). Welcome to Montmartre!

At the <i>Pigalle</i> stop/station, get on the Montmartrobus. It wanders around Montmartre, stopping at <i>Sacre Coeur</i> on the way. The <i>Funiculaire</i> just west of the basilica is included on your Mobilis, in case you're interested. Back at <i>Pigalle</i>, your last bus ride will be #54 <i>Direction Porte d'Aubervilliers</i> to the <i>Lafayette - St-Quentin - Gare du Nord</i> stop.

Note: if you want to see how the whole bus system looks on a geographic map, select <i>Bus Paris (avec rues)</i>. This is probably a little large to print out, but if you have a PDA with Adobe Acrobat Reader, it makes a handy little reference source.

RonZ Feb 16th, 2005 08:35 AM

Robespierre--that was a terrific effort.

I use the plans de quartier on

which I think are different, and which show the bus stops in greater detail. They also show the direction at each stop.

Robespierre Feb 16th, 2005 09:08 AM

I don't see any difference at all in the content. I tried Champ de Mars and Gare du Nord as examples. Which one do you see more detail in?

The only real difference is that the ones I cited are in .pdf format, which is handy if you want to download them to a laptop or pocket PC. I believe they also print out slightly larger, because Adobe will scale .pdf to the page.

Travelnut Feb 16th, 2005 09:18 AM

thanks for taking the time to write this... we might do it for a lark, since we've been a number of times...always looking for a new perspective...

Robespierre Feb 16th, 2005 11:31 AM

<b>Correction</b> to the itinerary -

The bus ride from Bastille to Pigalle doesn't take an hour, as indicated above. Depending on the time of day (frequency of service) and how the connection from #69 to #67 falls, the whole trip can take as little as 20 minutes.

Above ground.

RonZ Feb 16th, 2005 11:52 AM

Now I get it. I was going to the plans de quartier on the left side of the page which are less detailed.

Phread Feb 16th, 2005 12:05 PM

Of course none of these buses will have the upper deck, or commentaries provided on the tour buses, but what they heck, Robespierre had some time to burn and it IS a DIYers dream....

ktyson Feb 16th, 2005 12:14 PM


I will be in Paris for the first time next month, and was feeling a little intimidated by their transportation system. After reading this, I feel much better. Thank you

MorganB Feb 16th, 2005 12:41 PM

A tip for anyone that plans to use the bus system in Paris, ask for the large bus map. It is a fairly large fold out map and makes it much easier to locate bus stops.

Renee Feb 16th, 2005 01:00 PM

Wow! Kudos to you for taking the time to do all of this! Way to go!

Robespierre Feb 20th, 2005 09:35 AM

And it's even less than &euro;5.30 if you're in town for more than two days.

The <b>Mobilis</b> card is good for one day of unlimited travel in Zones 1-2 for &euro;5.30

A better value is the <b>Carte Orange</b> which is good for one week starting on Monday. A Zones 1-2 CO costs &euro;15.40, which breaks down to &euro;2.20 a day if you use it for the whole week. The break-even point is 3 days, where each day costs you &euro;5.13

Cards go on sale Friday for the following Monday-Sunday and are available for purchase through Wednesday. No COs are sold on Thursday.

You need to present a 1&quot; x 1&quot; photo when you buy your first ticket and permanent card. From then on, you just get a new ticket.


mzatzman0327 Feb 28th, 2005 06:55 PM

i need to buy a paris visite pass 1-5 so i can go into paris from cdg and then return to cdg later that same day. for 16.75 euros i can travel to and from cdg and also use the bus and metro all day. i have to store my luggage at gare du nord and then take bus #42 to the eiffel tower. will try to walk to the arc du triumphe and then go down to the louvre. How would i get from the louvre to notre dame? bus or metro i am not sure. any suggestions?

Christina Feb 28th, 2005 08:14 PM

There isn't a very direct metro connection between the two, you might as well just walk, it isn't very far and would probably be just as quick as transferring metro lines. But if you want to, take the no. 1 metro line to Chatelet/Les Halles and transfer to the no. 4 metro line and go one stop to &quot;cite&quot;.

There is a bus that goes by near the Louvre that then stops on the island, that would be the best idea (although I'd still probably walk). the bus is no. 21 and you'd have to get it at the stop on a side street to the east of the Louvre (rue de Adm. de Coligny). That stops near the Conciergerie on the island.

Robespierre Feb 28th, 2005 08:21 PM

The <i>Balabus</i> stops directly in front of the Louvre right opposite the pyramid (the stop is labeled <b>Mus&eacute;e du Louvre</b>), then winds around to the front of Notre Dame at the <b>Cit&eacute; - Parvis Notre Dame</b> stop.

Go to <b></b> and click <i>Balabus</i>.

mzatzman0327 Feb 28th, 2005 08:44 PM

i think the balabus only runs on sundays. i will be in paris on asaturday.

Dave_in_Paris Feb 28th, 2005 09:15 PM

There are &quot;talking&quot; public buses, though they only talk about where they're going! Tour bus commentary varies -- and sometimes grates. And you're not going to meet many French people on the paid tour.

ballbuster Feb 28th, 2005 09:17 PM

Robespierre I would just like to thank you for all the great Paris information you give. I'm sure it will come and handy when i'm there.

ballbuster Feb 28th, 2005 09:19 PM

robespierre, can I buy a carte orange on a Sunday that way I can begin using it Monday morning?

ballbuster Feb 28th, 2005 09:19 PM

one more thing, where do I buy the &quot;extentions&quot; for versailles and disneyland and how much do they cost

Robespierre Mar 1st, 2005 09:09 AM

<i>Robespierre I would just like to thank you for all the great Paris information you give.</i>

You're welcome. But mzatzman is correct. The Balabus only runs on Sundays from April to September.

<i>can I buy a carte orange on a Sunday that way I can begin using it Monday morning?</i>

Yes, they go on sale beginning Friday for the following week.

<i>one more thing, where do I buy the &quot;extentions&quot; for versailles and disneyland and how much do they cost</i>

You can buy <i>supplements</i> at any RATP sales locaton (M&eacute;tro stations, etc.) I think the cost is on a zone-by-zone basis, so if you go out to the limit of your Carte Orange (probably Zone 2), they should be cheaper. I think. Buy a round-trip (<i>aller-retour</i>) and you won't have to stop at the ticket counter on the way back.

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