The Paris Métro is quick and efficient, but when time isn’t an issue, we prefer riding the public bus. Wait times are longer and despite the dedicated bus lanes, traffic can slow you down. But you can step off easily if something catches your eye, and the big picture windows are a perfect way to sneak in a little complimentary sightseeing or preview areas that you’d like to visit later.
Think Before You Go Unlimited
The Paris Visite pass is an unlimited pass designed for tourists that offers all-you-can-ride passes of 1, 2, 3 and 5 days as well as local/airport bus combos.
But Paris is a very walkable city, and you might end up resorting to public transport less than you think. Be sure to do the math before you go for this easy option as you may end up spending more than necessary for convenience.
Buy a Carnet
If you don’t need an unlimited pass but expect to make at least 5 round-trips during your visit, plan ahead to save money by purchasing a carnet of 10 tickets (€13.30) that you can buy in any Métro station, a considerable savings over the regular €1.70 ticket price. These tickets are good for rides with one transfer within a 90-minute period on the Métro, bus, or bus/tram.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to use them for a combined Métro/bus or Métro/tram transfer. Use this handy tool for planning your route ahead of time to make the most of the transfer bonus.
Never Buy Your Tickets on the Bus
You can buy single tickets on the bus for €2, and unlike, say New York City bus drivers, Paris bus drivers will give change, and happily make the rest of the bus passengers wait while they do.
But in addition to paying about 30% more for a single ticket, tickets bought on the bus are good for one leg only; you are not allowed to make transfers, which means you could end up paying €4, or more than double the price of a regular ticket, if you need to transfer.