Taking the metro or RER...

Eurostars at Paris Gare du Nord, showing the way to the metro & RER

 

1.  Arriving by Eurostar.  When your Eurostar arrives at the Gare du Nord, simply walk forwards off the end of the platform onto the main concourse and turn left, following the sign in the foreground for 'Metro & RER'.  You go down the steps into the metro.

  Sign at the entrance to metro line M5 at Paris Gare du Nord
 

2.  Follow the signs.  You find your way on the metro with a line number and a 'diréction'.  For example, from the Gare du Nord to the Gare d'Austerlitz, you'd follow the signs for metro line M5 'diréction Place d'Italie'.  See the recommended metro routes further down this page.

  Machine selling Paris metro tickets at the Gare du Nord metro station
 

3.  Buy a metro ticket using these machines.  They have a touch screen & an English language facility.

  Paris metro train
 

4.  The metro runs every 2-3 minutes and calls at all stations.  Metro line M5 links the Gare du Nord with the Gare d'Austerlitz, metro line M4 links it with the Gare Montparnasse.  Metro & RER map.

  RER (express metro) train in Paris
 

5.  The RER (express metro) runs every 5-10 minutes on its own tracks from its own platforms, and consists of suburban trains running in tunnels under Paris.  They are usually double-deck as shown here, and have far fewer stops than the ordinary metro, so they're faster.  RER lines are identified with a letter, A B C or D, plus a 'direction'.  RER line D links the Gare du Nord with the Gare de Lyon in just 2 stops.  Metro & RER map

 

Taking a taxi...

The taxi rank at Paris Gare du Nord

Taxis:  Alternatively, you can take a taxi.  This is the taxi rank at Paris Gare du Nord, where there's often a long queue (as you can see here) but it moves fast and you should be in a taxi within 10 minutes.  Beware expensive private hire cars which also tout for business.  Crossing Paris by regular taxi costs €16-€20, but is painless.

  Crossing Paris by taxi.
 

Pre-book a taxi:  Or you can pre-book a taxi, such as this G7 Taxi, see the taxi information.

 

   

Eurostar arrives at the Gare du Nord in  Paris, 10 minutes' walk from the Gare de l'Est but a 30-minute metro or taxi ride from the other Paris stations.  Train journeys from London to Switzerland, Italy & Spain usually involve crossing Paris by metro between stations.  It's easy enough, just a little daunting for first-timers.  Here is a quick guide to changing trains & stations in Paris by metro, taxi or RER (Réseau Express Régional = express metro).

Click for Paris metro map on the official Paris metro & RER website...On this page...

  How to cross Paris by metro or RER

  How to cross Paris by taxi

  Book a private transfer across Paris

  Left luggage lockers in Paris

  Lunch in Paris between trains?

  Recommended metro routes from the Gare du Nord

  Recommended metro routes to the Gare du Nord

  The video guide: Paris Nord to Paris Gare de Lyon by metro

How to cross Paris by metro or RER...

Metro map: www.ratp.fr

For a metro & RER map, see the Paris metro website www.ratp.fr. click the UK flag at the top, then 'aimer la ville' then 'Map'.

  Recommended metro routes from the Gare du Nord

  Recommended metro routes to the Gare du Nord

For plans of the layout of each Paris mainline station see www.gares-en-mouvement.com.

How long should you allow to change trains in Paris? 

Crossing Paris by metro physically takes about 30-35 minutes, indeed my own best recorded time from the concourse at the Gare du Nord to the concourse at the Gare de Lyon is 27 minutes.  But you should always allow at least an hour between the Eurostar arriving at the Gare du Nord and your connecting train leaving one of the other Paris stations, with the following exceptions:  (1)  if your onward train leaves from the Gare de l'Est, 45 minutes between trains is sufficient as the Gare de l'Est is only a ten minute walk from the Gare du Nord.  (2)  if you are catching a sleeper train that you can't afford to miss, allow longer, at least 90 minutes between trains if the sleeper leaves from Paris Austerlitz or Paris Bercy, at least 60 minutes if it leaves from the nearby Gare de l'Est.  (3) If your onward train leaves from Paris Montparnasse TGV station I'd also allow longer, perhaps 90 minutes, as there's quite a walk from Montparnasse metro station to the Montparnasse TGV station.

On the return journey, you need to allow for the 30 minute Eurostar check-in at Paris Gare du Nord as well as the metro journey.  So allow at least 90 minutes between your train arriving in Paris and the departure of your Eurostar from the Gare du Nord back to London, with the following exceptions:  If your train arrives at the Gare de l'Est, 60 minutes is sufficient between trains as it's only a 10 minute walk to the Gare du Nord;  (2)  If your train arrives at Paris Montparnasse, allow at least 1 hour 50 minutes as it's a fair old walk from Montparnasse TGV station to Montparnasse metro station.

Summary of how long to allow.

How much does the metro cost?

The metro fare is €1.70 per journey.

Children 0-3 travel free.  Children 4-9 (inclusive) travel for €0.85.

It's cheaper to buy a 'carnet' of 10 tickets for €13.70.  You can keep any spare tickets and use them later, even up to a year later.  Each ticket is valid for one journey in central Paris on either metro, RER (express metro) or bus.

How do you buy tickets?

The metro is not included in mainline tickets, so head downstairs to the metro and buy a ticket from the self-service ticket machines or at the metro ticket office.  The self-service machines have an English language facility and accept euro coins, notes & credit cards.   They also sell carnets of 10 tickets.

Travel tip:  The basic metro ticket you want is often shown as 't+', it's valid for one trip on the metro or RER (express metro) anywhere in central Paris.  If you haven't any euros, the ticket machines will let you use a credit card even to buy just one ticket.

Travel tip:  If you are making a return journey, buy two metro tickets as you pass through Paris on your outward journey.  You can use the second ticket for crossing Paris on your return trip, saving time queuing at the ticket office.  Metro tickets can be used on any day once they have been bought. 

Travel tip:  You can buy a carnet of 10 Paris metro tickets for £15.00, and Paris metro visitor passes, at the information desk in the Eurostar terminal in London, just ask...

Finding the right metro platform...

Unlike the London Underground, which uses a line name then 'northbound' and 'southbound', Paris metro lines each have a number then a 'diréction'.  The 'diréction' is the name of the station at the end of the line in the direction you want to go.  For example, 'M5 diréction Place d'Italie', Place d'Italie being the station at the end of line 5 in that direction.

How to cross Paris by taxi... 

Should you take a taxi or the metro?

A taxi is a painless way to cross Paris, especially if you have large amounts of luggage, although it costs more and actually takes a bit longer than the metro or RER.  If I'm travelling alone, I simply take the metro or RER, but if I'm with my wife and children and lots of luggage, or just with my wife and it's a special occasion, I prefer to take a taxi.  The extra cost can be a sound investment.

How much does it cost?  How long does it take?

A taxi from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon or Gare d'Austerlitz (for example) costs around €16-€20 and takes about 25 minutes in typical weekday traffic.  At the Gare du Nord, walk off the Eurostar platform onto the main concourse, turn sharp right, walk out of the station side entrance and there's the taxi rank just outside and to your right.  There's often a long queue for taxis, but it moves pretty fast and you should be inside a taxi within 10 minutes.  So you'll probably arrive at (for example) the Gare de Lyon by taxi 40 minutes after your train arrives at the Gare du Nord.  But always allow at least an hour and preferably more between trains, see the advice above.

Most importantly, don't accept taxis or private hire vehicles from touts as these often turn out to be €70+, always use the official taxi rank for a regular metered Parisian taxi.  Make sure the driver turns the meter on when you drive off.

Paris taxi cost calculator:  www.worldtaximeter.com/paris

How to pre-book a taxi...

There's often a queue for taxis at the Gare du Nord and other Paris stations, one option to avoid this is to pre-book one.  That's still cheaper than arranging a private transfer, as transfer companies can charge three times as much as a regular metered taxi.  Several companies offer pre-bookable taxis in Paris, including www.taxis-g7.com.  To book a taxi from G7:

Wheelchair-accessible taxis...

There's a pre-bookable wheelchair-accessible taxi service in Paris run by www.taxis-g7.com (their website is only in French, but look for 'plan du site' then 'G7 Horizon').  To book, call +33 1 41 27 66 99 (English speaking line) or +33 1 47 39 00 91, making sure you ask for a wheelchair accessible taxi.  There may be a €5 booking fee, and bookings can be made from 7 days until 1 hour before you need the taxi.  Gare du Nord to Gare d'Austerlitz for example costs €17-€19 per taxi.  If you use this service, feedback would be very welcome!

Private transfers...

Book a private transfer across Paris, or between station & hotel...Supershuttle Paris private transfer

A private transfer that means someone is waiting for you, holding a card with your name on it, when you walk off the train platform in Paris.  There's no need to spend 10 minutes in the taxi queue.  A private minivan also holds up to 8 passengers, with plenty of room for luggage, most taxis are ordinary saloon cars for up to 4 passengers.  On the other hand, a private transfer costs from €52, significantly more than a taxi.


Metro routes from the Gare du Nord...

Gare du Nord ▶ Gare de l'Est

Gare du Nord ▶ Gare de Lyon       Step-by-step video guide

 

Gare du Nord ▶ Gare de Bercy

Gare du Nord ▶ Gare d'Austerlitz

Gare du Nord ▶ Gare Montparnasse

Gare du Nord ▶ Gare Saint Lazare


Video guide: Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon

How to take the RER metro from Paris Gare du Nord to Paris Gare de Lyon...

If you still find crossing Paris daunting, this 2-minute video will show you exactly what it's like, where to go and what to do, step-by-step.  The whole journey takes as little as 25 minutes concourse-to-concourse, but always allow at least an hour between trains, preferably more.



Metro routes to the Gare du Nord...

Gare de l'Est ▶ Gare du Nord

Gare de Lyon ▶ Gare du Nord

Gare de Bercy ▶ Gare du Nord

Gare d'Austerlitz ▶ Gare du Nord

Gare Montparnasse ▶ Gare du Nord

Gare Saint Lazare ▶ Gare du Nord



How long to allow to change in Paris...

Here is a summary of how long to allow to make connections across Paris.
Recommended time to allow to change trains in Paris...

The minimum connection times shown here are the minimum amount of time you should allow between the scheduled arrival of your train in Paris and the scheduled departure time of your connecting train from Paris.

Travelling FROM London If your onwards train departs from the Gare de l'Est (only a 10 minute walk from the Gare du Nord, where Eurostar arrives): 45 minutes, if missing it simply means catching the next one.

1 hour 15 minutes minimum if catching the last train of the day or a long-distance sleeper train which you cannot afford to miss.

If your onwards train departs from any other Paris station (usually a 30-40 minute RER or métro ride from the Gare du Nord): 1 hour if missing it simply means catching the next one

1 hour 40 minutes minimum, preferably 2 hours, if catching the last train of the day or a long-distance sleeper train which you cannot afford to miss.

Travelling TO London Arriving on a train at the Gare de l'Est (only a 10-minute walk to Paris Nord from where Eurostar departs) 60 minutes minimum, which includes the compulsory 30-minute Eurostar check-in time.  if you miss the Eurostar because your train is significantly late, the Eurostar staff should let you catch the next one, as long as seats are available.
Arriving on a train at any other Paris station (usually a 30-40 minute métro or RER ride to Paris Nord) 1 hour 30 minutes minimum, which includes the compulsory 30-minute Eurostar check-in time.  if you miss the Eurostar because your train is significantly late, the Eurostar staff should let you catch the next one, as long as seats are available.

Since the opening of the new UK high speed line, roughly 85-90% of Eurostars normally arrive within 15 minutes of the advertised time, but it is not unknown for problems in the Channel Tunnel to delay a Eurostar by an hour.  If you're connecting with (say) a long distance sleeper train which you can't afford to miss, then better safe than sorry!


Lunch in Paris between trains?

Breakfast in London, lunch in Paris, dinner in...

It's often a good idea to book an earlier Eurostar than the one you need and have a meal between trains in Paris.  The added benefit is that if (heaven forbid) there's a delay to your Eurostar, you'll still make your onward connection.  Here are three good options for places to eat:

Le Train Bleu restaurant at the Gare de Lyon...

Originally the Gare de Lyon's grand buffet, it opened in 1900 and decorated in a sumptuous art nouveau style which it retains to this day.  Anyone who's anyone has eaten here, from Salvador Dali to Brigitte Bardot, it's an experience in itself..

The set menu costs around €56 including a half-bottle of wine, the food is very good and the surroundings perhaps the most spectacular in which you'll ever eat a meal.  Go to www.le-train-bleu.com to book a table online, though you'll often find a table free if you just turn up.

Don't worry about your bags.  The restaurant has a large secure cloakroom, your luggage will be taken by the hostess and you'll be given a numbered luggage tag.  If you can't manage the steps from the concourse with luggage, there's a small lift in a passageway accessed from the station forecourt, it just takes a bit of hunting to find it!

The Man in Seat 61 says:  "This place is rather special and beautifully, authentically, totally French.  I ordered a Rum Baba for dessert, expecting a feeble confection of the sort served in most British restaurants.  A bottle of exotic Martinique rum materialised on my table.  The waiter reappeared, carrying a generous sausage-shaped sponge roll.  Whipping out a long knife, he deftly slashed the Mark of Zorro into the sponge, and with a flamboyant gesture emptied half the bottle of Martinique rum over the top.  One deliciously dangerous Rum Baba later, I staggered onto my train..."

Train Bleu restaurant, Paris Gare de Lyon   Inside the Train Bleu restaurant, Paris Gare de Lyon

The Train Bleu restaurant, up the steps from the main train concourse at the Gare de Lyon.

 

Versailles?  No, the Train Bleu restaurant for lunch before taking the train to the South of France...

The set menu starter at the Train Bleu restaurant, Paris Gare de Lyon   One of the set menu mains at the Train Bleu restaurant, Paris Gare de Lyon

Set menu, starter....

 

Set menu, main course...


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