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Get to Know the Paris Metro

Which metro line to take for what

While the Paris subway system may seem daunting at first, it's actually very easy to use and can be a great way to discover the city. Here's a quick guide to help you pick the right metro line for your personal Paris sightseeing objectives.

Paris has 16 different metro lines crisscrossing the city, and while they obviously overlap and join at numerous points, each has its own distinct route and points of interests. Choosing the right metro line can make your sightseeing a lot more efficient and help you explore new parts of the city. Read on to see which Paris metro line goes where.

Line 1 – Tourist Hotspots

La une is the oldest metro line in Paris. Created back in 1900, it literally bisects Paris, running east-west from the Château de Vincennes to La Défense, connecting a medieval castle to the city’s modern business hub. In between, it skirts most of the must-see tourist spots of Paris. This is the line to take for the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysées, the Place de la Concorde, the Jardin des Tuileries, the Louvre, and the Palais Royal as well as the neighborhoods of Le Marais and Bastille. 

The Arc de Triomphe at metro stop Charles de Gaulle – Étoile

Line 2 – Charming to Cheeky

Also inaugurated in 1900, La Deux runs from the pretty Porte Dauphine to Place de la Nation and takes you to the various stop-offs for Parc Monceau and Montmartre. From Anvers, where you can catch the funicular up to Sacré Coeur to Pigalle for some oh-là-là nightlife. It takes a picturesque above-ground route for a few stops and is also the line for Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

The famous Moulin Rouge cabaret at metro stop Blanche

Line 3 – Hip & Alternative Areas

Dating back to 1904, this line takes you to gems such as the clothing and fabric manufacturing neighborhood Sentier with its vibrant Rue Montorgueil market street, and the splendid station of Arts et Métiers with its equally cool museum, and onto Gambetta, a great area for cafés and restaurants.

The platforms of the Arts et Métiers metro station on the Line 11

Line 3bis – Locals-Only Line

A four-stop sidearm connecting Gambetta with Porte des Lilas, this line is the least-used in Paris, meaning you won’t have to worry about crowds! It also has two pretty station buildings, Pelleport and Saint-Fargeau.

Cafés near the Gambetta metro station, just behind the Père Lachaise cemetery

Line 4 – Market-Goers’ Must

Opened in 1908, this line connects several different markets across the city. It stops at the former central market of Paris, Les Halles, now a modern shopping mall, the flower market on the island of Cité (just a block from the Notre Dame Cathedral), the covered Saint-Germain market, and the market street by Denfert-Rochereau.

Line 5 – Street Art Stops

Dating back to 1906, today this line takes you to some of the best street art areas in Paris. Place d’Italie is the stop for the lovely Butte-aux-Cailles, a neighborhood filled with charm and street art – get an itinerary for a Street Art Stroll in the 13th Arrondissement here – and further north stop off at Ourcq for urban art along the canal and the Rue de l’Ourcq.

“La Madre Secular 2” INTI, “Etreinte et Lutte” Conor Harrington, Paris 13th Arrondissement

Line 6 – Metro with a View

This Parisian metro line has a checkered history, having changed names, numbers, and at one point even being integrated into another line. But now, it’s the metro line with the best views of Paris, as it runs mostly above ground. After stopping at the Trocadéro, between Passy and Bir Hakeim, it crosses the Seine and offers amazing views of the Eiffel Tower. You’ll also get an up-close look at street art murals between Place d’Italie and Chevaleret.

Line 6 passing over the Pont Bir-Hakeim, offering passengers a view of the Eiffel Tower

Line 7 – Family Favorites

Running vertically through the city, this line’s stops are great for kids, with the Cité des Sciences at La Villette in the north and the Jardin des Plantes with its zoo and the National Natural History Museum in the Quartier Latin further south. In between, at Pont Neuf you have the Musée en Herbe, a perfect introduction to art museums for little ones, and at Poissonnière, you have probably the best selection of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Paris.

Grande Galérie de l’Evolution – Roï Boshi [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Line 7bis – Loop Around the 19th

Another short one, this miniature metro line one goes around in a circle in the northeastern neighborhoods of Paris. Taking you around the 19th Arrondissement, it’s perfect for going to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont or exploring the cute lanes of La Mouzaïa area.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont at metro station Buttes Chaumont or Botzaris

Line 8 – Open Spaces & Covered Streets

Doing a semi-circle around town, Line 8 takes you from Balard in southwest where you can walk along a stretch of the old Petite Ceinture, up through the Grand Boulevards for their covered passages, and then all the way back down on the southeast to Porte Dorée with its zoo and fabulous Art Deco palace.

La Petite Ceinture, an abandoned railway now a beautiful green space for walks

Line 9 – Full of Surprises

This one could be quite nondescript if it weren’t full of hidden gems visitors often miss, such as the Manufacture-Museum of the delicate Sèvres porcelain, the stunning Art Deco hotel and swimming pool at Molitor, and the lovely Passy area. Then, of course there’s Chaussée d’Antin with its famous grand department stores, including the Galeries Lafayette.

Musée national de céramique at Pont de Sèvres

Line 10 – Left Bank Line

La Dix spends most of its length on Rive Gauche with places of note being the pretty station of Vaneau, Odéon with all its lovely cafés for people-watching, and the interesting station of Cluny-La Sorbonne with its signatures and access to the Museum of the Middle Ages, the Musée de Cluny. This is also the line to take if you’re in town for the French Open or Roland Garros tennis tournament; stop at Michel Ange Molitor.

La Dame à la Licorne or The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries in the Musée de Cluny

Line 11 – Eastern Paris Explorer

This line runs from the center of Paris to the eastern outskirts of the city. It stops at the beautiful Hôtel de Ville, then Rambuteau for the Centre Pompidou, before passing through one of the city’s busiest hubs République. It then continues on eastward, stopping at Pyrénées for the Parc Belleville and onto the suburbs.

Parc de Belleville at metro stop Pyrénées

Line 12 – Churches & Cathedrals

Perfect for church enthusiasts, this Paris metro line covers a couple of Notre Dames (including Notre-Dame-des-Champs and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette and), the Église de la Madeleine, and the Trinité d’Estienne d’Orves, as well as Sacré Coeur.

Notre-Dame-de-Lorette

Line 13 – North to South Secret

Although this line is relatively unknown by tourists, it stops at some great spots. La treize takes you from the flea market Puces de Vanves at Porte de Vanves down south to the Musée Rodin at Vaneau, then across the Champs Elysées to the lovely Marché couvert Batignolles at La Fourche and then all the way out to the superb Basilique de Saint-Denis at the station of the same name.

A quick warning: this line can get VERY crowded during rush hours (9-10am and 6-7pm), so try to go in the middle of the day.

Musée Rodin at metro stop Vaneau

Line 14 – Paris Express

The newest and the fastest of the lot, this metro line zooms you straight from Gare Saint Lazare, past Châtelet and Gare de Lyon, onto the charming shopping area of Bercy Village at Cour Saint-Emilion, and finally to the modern 13th Arrondissement with its great architecture, gigantic street art murals and the lovely La Felicita restaurant.

Bibliothèque François Mitterand


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