The bus in Paris is slower than the Metro, but it's also a great (and cheap!) way to acquaint yourself with Paris' streets and sights. Sure, you could just hop on the Metro to speed around town, but we recommend that you use that same ticket (at least once) to hop on one of the city's perky little buses.
Read on for information about bus tickets, hours of operation and more.
The bus is a good way to see the rest of Paris while you're moving between the major sights. Photo: Stephen Rees.
The RATP provides free “Grand Plan de Paris” maps, which indicate bus lines. These maps are available at all Metro stations.
Stops and lines
The Paris bus system is extensive, comprised of more than 80 lines. Stops are easily identified by red signs and brown benches under a small shelter.
Try to get a ticket before you get on the bus, as this both avoids confusion with bus drivers and the possibility that the driver will not be able to make change. Tickets purchased on the bus also cost a small amount more.
Buses keep the same hours and charge the same fee as the Metro. In fact, the buses, Metro and the RER use the same tickets. Upon entering the bus, you will see the machine meant for tickets. Insert your ticket into it, printed side up, with the arrow pointing down. The machine will stamp your ticket. Voila! You're set.
Most major lines are wheelchair accessible. At least some, though not all, buses on each line have wheelchair lifts.
Night bus service
Traveling by bus during late hours, when the Noctilien night buses take over the city, is a special experience. Central lines are often crammed with late-night partiers, with stragglers racing after the bus.
The Noctilien service runs from 12:30 a.m. until 5:30 a.m. Noctilien's 35 routes depart from the Gare d'Est, Gare Montparnasse, Gare de Lyon, Gare Saint-Lazare and Châtelet. Transportation passes will work on the Noctilien buses. Individual tickets cost €1.80.
For more information, visit the Noctilien Web site.
"Balabus" sightseeing bus
RATP's tour bus, the "Balabus" is a sightseeing route around nearly every major sight in Paris. The stops, which have "Balabus" or "Bb" indicators, are the same stops as the normal bus lines.
The fare varies (from one to three metro/bus tickets) according to the length of journey, and travel passes valid for the zones traveled are also accepted. The full loop takes about an hour and a half.
More Paris transportation information