How to use the bus in Paris
You’ve probably heard that the best way to get around in Paris is the quick and reliable metro – but that’s not always true! Trust me, at some point you’ll probably have enough of the Parisian underground: we locals love to complain about how dirty and disagreeable it is. So what should you do? Go for a bus ride! Read on this article and learn how to use the bus in Paris.
The Parisian bus system is very efficient, and you’ll find that it is sometimes quicker than the metro, besides if you take the bus you’ll also get to admire the beautiful Parisian scenery. However, when you’ve just arrived in Paris, I know it can be a bit difficult to find your way among the 64 lines driving through the city, so here are some tips about how to use the bus in Paris!
Finding the bus stops
The first thing you obviously need to know about how to use the bus in Parisis, of course, where to find the bus stops. This can be a bit tricky: as we have so many of them, few maps will list them all. But don't worry, as long as you know that you are on the itinerary of a specific line, you should be able to find the nearest bus stop quite easily. Generally a blue and green sign will be here to signal the name of the station and the lines passing by - a lot of bus stops are also equipped with an electronic board announcing the number of minutes until the next bus arrives.
One bit of advice: don’t buy your tickets from the bus driver – they will be more expensive and will only be usable for the line you’re on. What you need to do is to buy them at a metro station, either at the desk or on one of the automatic machines. The best plan is to look for a ‘carnet‘ of ten tickets for about 14,10€, which will be cheaper than buying them one by one. Also, one ticket can be used to transfer between two buses, provided you take the second one less than 90 minutes after the first. However be careful, this doesn’t work for bus-metro transfers.
Usually bus service in Paris runs between 5.30 am and 00 am, but the hours can vary depending on the lines. Between these hours you still have night buses, which are called the ‘Noctiliens‘, driving around; but these are much less frequent than the day ones and their itineraries will be different.
Behaving in the bus
The first thing you’ll need to do, if you want to hop on a Parisian bus, is to call it. Parisian buses often stop at their stations, but if no one inside wants to get off and you are alone at this stop, they probably won’t, unless you give them a sign. Just hold up your hand when you see the bus approaching, and this should do the trick! Get on through the front door, because the back door is for exiting the bus only. Once you’re inside, there’s a very important step: you have to stamp (‘valider‘ in French) your ticket by using one of the machines you have next to each door.
This is very important because if your ticket is not stamped you might get fined during a control. Oh, and now you’re probably wondering what you need to do to get off the bus: once again, it might not stop if you don’t ask for it. When you know you’re at the end of your trip, just press one of the red buttons to light on the ‘Arrêt Demandé‘ sign at the front of the bus and the driver will know you want to get off at the next station. Be careful not to miss it!
Most scenic bus lines – you can’t miss these!
One of my favourite things when I take the bus is, of course, the view: crossing the Seine and passing in front of the Louvre on line 39, enjoying the little streets of the Marais on line 96… way better than the gloomy corridors of the metro! The line I would most advise you to use is actually specifically designed for tourists: it is called the Balabus, and will take you to Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame or the Louvre by driving mostly on the banks of the Seine, for the price of one to three tickets depending on how long you spend inside. Some other nice lines are line 38, which offers nice views of the Latin Quarter, or line 28, which will take you to the Opera and the Saint Germain des Prés area.
Here are a few articles related to Paris you will find useful:
- Everything you need to know about the Parisian metro;
- The best way to visit the Louvre Museum;
- A walk in the Marais neighborhood;
- The best way to visit Notre Dame de Paris.
The article is now over! By now, you should be able to know how to use the bus in Paris! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further information about anything. Also, if you want to truly live the Parisian experience and discover the best places, join one of our tours. The local guides love their city and know it by heart. I hope to see you soon in Paris!