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In London I can get one day travel card for the underground train, - it might not always be the absolute cheapest but I nearly always end up getting one. And if I were a tourist I would definitely get one as they are flexible, cheap and simple.

I am taking my parents in-law (lucky me) to Paris and they are old so I want to avoid all possible stresses such as queuing and not knowing what ticket to get. Is there an equivalent to the one day travel card in Paris, even one I could purchase before hand ? We are staying 2 nights.

Also, any recommended itineraries for 5 people, 2 of which are 65+ and never really been abroad before ? Notre Dame, Eiffel tower, walking along the river are all on the list any other recommendations ? Is their an equivalent to a red London bus tour ?

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Re. your example with London, it is actually much better to get an prepaid Oyster card - the amount they will charge you daily is capped at the daily travel card rate. So you will never spend more than the daily travel card price. –  Grzenio Jul 25 '12 at 14:27
    
Metro + single tickets works great (especially for such short stay), gets you anywhere flexibly, and is not stressful, IMHO. –  Jonik Aug 3 '12 at 19:09
    
The least stressful method of travelling around Paris is taxi or walking. But it's best just not to travel around. Just stay put and enjoy your district! –  Joe Blow Sep 26 at 11:16

5 Answers 5

In Paris, the one day travel card is called Paris Visite. You can choose 1, 2, 3 or 5 days and zones 1-3 or 1-6. It is valid on Orlyval (automatic metro from Orly airport to RER-B line) as well.

A one day ticket valid on all zones is about 20€.

There are also many privatly operated sight seeing busses.

And you may enjoy a tour on bateau-mouche.

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FYI zone 6 has merged with zone 5 a couple years ago. –  DavLink Jul 25 '12 at 8:22

If your travel company is comfortable with cycling, Velib is the least stressful form of transportation in Paris. You pay a daily fee, which is very low, and then you can take a velib bicycle to cycle around. The first 30 minutes of each trip are always free of charge. This actually means that you can ride for free as long as you change bicycles every 30 minutes.

It is my favorite form of transportation in Paris, since it gives the shortest travel times from almost any point to any other point in Paris. Using conventional public transport typically takes you much longer, given the transits you often have to make. BTW transit often involves stairs and medium to long walks.

If you are not comfortable with cycling, I would try to use as many buses as possible and try to plan ahead. For example, don't go to Notre Dame right after the Eiffel tower. You will lose some time in the metro.

Personally I've never bought a day ticket in Paris. You can buy single tickets in groups of 10 at almost if not all metro stations. The vending machines do accept all major credit cards. I often buy 10 tickets. One ticket is valid for one trip. On a busy day I would use 4 tickets max. So, if you don't intend to spend much time in the metro, a day ticket is overkill. When buying the groups of tickets, try to avoid the big train stations (Gare du Nord, Montparnasse) since they often have long waiting queues for the vending machines. If you are uncomfortable with the vending machine, ask the staff at the so called "guichets". You can buy them there as well with all major credit cards.

I have lived in Paris, so whenever I am in Paris these days I tend to ignore the traditional parts, but I would really recommend going to the Sacré-Cœur. Be aware that the Sacré-Cœur is on top of a hill and it involves quite some climbing up the stairs. But the sight is worth it! I think you can get to the top by bus, but I am not sure.

Also the parks, especially with nice weather, are worth a visit. I would recommend Jardins du Luxembourg and Tuileries gardens.

If you are in Paris at the weekend, consider going to the many "Brocantes", "Puces" or flea markets. The best advice is to be there early to experience these flea markets to the fullest. The one I used to visit frequently is : Puces de la Porte de Vanves (French) This was because I used to live around the corner. There are many. I think that there is even a newspaper sold at any kiosk telling you all the flea markets in Paris.

Another nice touristic point to visit is the Pantheon with its Foucault pendulum. This is nice to combine with both the Jardins du Luxembourg, the Notre Dame and Latin Quarter.

If it is your first time in Paris and you want to get a small taste or first impression of what to expect, I suggest watching some movies set in Paris. I would recommend: Amelie and Midnight in Paris. The latter is about a guy traveling with his in-laws to Paris (be aware) ;)

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Excellent answer! –  Ankur Banerjee Jul 24 '12 at 11:36
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I would not say that biking in a busy city like Paris for 65+ people is the least stressful transportation experience! Moreover, Velib and Sacré-Cœur are not compatible for everybody. +1 anyway for this detailled answer. –  mouviciel Jul 24 '12 at 11:48
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That is why I mentioned that you need to be comfortable with cycling. What I love about Paris is its "hidden" bicycle friendliness, due to the fact the bicycle are allowed to use the far less congested bus lanes. Velib and Sacré-Cœur are as friendly as the metro where you have to get of at Anvers (Metro) and climb up to scare coeur, but you are right I will add that sacre Coeur involves some major climbing. –  andra Jul 24 '12 at 11:54
    
My father in-law is 82, but to be honest he is more likely to get on a bike than her majesty : my mother-in-law. Great answer though, thanks 1+. –  NimChimpsky Jul 24 '12 at 11:58
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The Sacré-Cœur is a great idea, and if I remember correctly you can take a funicular most of the way up to avoid the stairs, which is way more fun than a bus. –  Jeff Burka Jul 24 '12 at 12:55

Paris Visite is a more expensive tourist thing, with a discount voucher book for museums, etc...

I would suggest you to get what the locals use when they need a day of unlimited travel. It is called the Mobilis. Costs less than the Paris Visite and much less advertised; its counterpart is that you cannot use it on Orlyval and the CDG airport stations. Also, if you stay for the week, you may consider getting a Navigo weekly pass. Weeks are forced from Monday to Sunday. It involves getting a €5 anonymous card and sticking a photo on it.

Choose your zones wisely : there are no extension tickets available yet. For example : if you got zones 1-2 and you wish to visit Versailles in zone 4, you'll have to pay a ticket for the full zone 1 to zone 4 trip, or get off at the last zone 2 station and buy the "remaining" portion there, which is rather inconvenient. When buying single-trip tickets to use Transilien/RER outside of Paris, you have to request the exact station name you are targeting and there is no fare adjustment; you may be fined if you go further or change routes and an inspector comes.

Once you get your day ticket or weekly pass, the rule is very simple : travel is unlimited within the zones you bought. Metro, bus, Transilien/"train de banlieue" (commuter train ending at main stations), RER (commuter train crossing the city in tunnels, more like metro), tramway, night bus, all is included.

The metro has a very fine network of stations; anywhere you get lost in the city, you will always be able to walk to a station in a few minutes. The RER lines come to your advantage as they cover larger distances between stops, and run faster.

A note about accessibility :

  • Most RER stations have escalators and lifts, as well as Metro line 14.

  • Other, older metro lines mostly have stairs. In big stations you may find some escalators. Most Paris Metro stations are below the surface and involve climbing the equivalent of 2-3 floors to get out, unlike the very deep London tube. There also are aerial stations on lines 2 and 6.

  • Consider taking the bus too. Get a bus map; there are many routes crisscrossing around Paris. Bus is running on the street, saving the need to use stairs; beware of traffic and rush hour anyway.

If you want to ride a tourist bus, there are two main companies who operate open-top double-decker buses : OpenTour (green/yellow vehicles) and Les Cars Rouges (red vehicles). They only sell unlimited passes at tourist prices i.e. much more than the average transit option.

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Be sure to include in your plans the "Batobus" - say it out loud and it's like Bateau [boat] bus. It's a hop-on-hop-off boat up and down the Seine that will get you to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame etc, as well as providing nice views along the river. We used this on our Paris trip and no other public transport was necessary - a cab from the Gare du Nord to our hotel on arrival, and from the hotel to a different train station when we left by TGV to the Atlantic coast, some walking, and the boat were all we needed.

It costs 15 euros per adult for one day, only 18 for 2 days, 21 for 5. Children are half price or less. http://www.batobus.com/english/index.htm has a route map, and some pictures that are quite representative of the experience.

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batobus is quite expansive, if you take the one day pass but less if you take the 5 day. –  francois Jul 24 '12 at 22:40

I'd be tempted to skip the Eiffel Tower (going to the top) if I were you. If you are going to go, reserve a time online. Even after you reserve a time, you still have to wait in lines. I think takes about 2 hours if you have a reservation. If you don't, it can take 3 or 4 hours (or more). And the views from the top aren't that spectacular (since Paris is such a flat city).

If I only had a 2 days, I'd rather spend that time strolling Paris neighborhoods than waiting for an elevator.

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unless you choose to run up....although in summer, from personal experience, I recommend against that ;) –  Mark Mayo Jul 25 '12 at 0:30

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