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Ⓜ Are You Paris Métro Train Savvy? My Paris Subway Guide & Stations’ Pronunciation

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis - updated on Jun 17, 2020
photo pun on paris subway station "maison blanche"

As a Paris native, I feel the pain of foreigners painfully dragging their oversize suitcase over the zillion steps of the Paris subway stations…

For sure, they read “le métro” was the cheapest, fastest way to move around in Paris. And it’s often true! But you need to be a minimum “métro” savvy!

Follow my tips, then learn the Paris subway stations pronunciation with my audio recordings, and you’ll be all set to hop on the Paris subway.

Let’s start by going over the French subway vocabulary.

1 – Paris Métro Train Vocabulary

  1. Les transports en commun: public transportation
  2. Le métro : Paris subway. Also the name used in Lyon and Marseille.
  3. Le bus : bus
  4. Le tram : tram
  5. Le transilien & le RER : The Transilien (part of which is called “le RER”) is a faster train network that travels greater distances and goes into the nearby suburbs of Paris. Be careful, as there are express trains that do not stop at all the stations.
  6. La RATP : the subway, tram, bus etc… network (as opposed to La SNCF with is for trains)
  7. Un ticket de métro : a ticket
  8. Un carnet de ticket : a book of tickets
  9. Un titre de transport : a ticket
  10. Un abonnement : a subscription, a pass
  11. Poinçonner / composter : to validate
  12. Un contrôle : a checkpoint
  13. Un contrôleur : a subway agent, inspector
  14. Une amende : a fine
  15. Un guichet : a booth
  16. Un bureau de tabac : a store where you buy tobacco
  17. Un kiosque à journaux : a newspaper stand
  18. Une ligne de métro : a subway line
  19. Un terminus : the last stop
  20. Souterrain (adj) : underground
  21. Un quai : a platform
  22. Une rame : a subway train
  23. Une voiture : a train car
  24. Une correspondance : a connection
  25. Un couloir : a corridor
  26. Des escaliers : stairs
  27. Des escaliers roulants : escalators
  28. Un plan de métro : a map
  29. Un siège : a seat
  30. Un strapontin : a folding seat
  31. Les rails : rails

And now, here are my tips to ride the Paris subway like a Parisian.

2 – Move Away From the Subway Doors, Would you Please?

On busy Paris subway lines such as “la ligne treize“, it’s important that during rush hour (Monday through Friday, roughly between 7:30 and 9:00 AM and 5:00 and 6:00 PM) , you follow the métro untold politeness code… Or common sense…

  1. Move away from the doors so fellow passengers can get in and out.
  2. On the platform, wait on the sides of the doors.
  3. That should be obvious but do let people get off before you rush in!
  4. On some older lines of the Paris subway, you will have to open the door manually. Doors may be opened slightly after the train comes to a full stop. There will be a button to push, or on very old cars, a lever to pull up and to the right. On the more recent lines, the doors will open automatically.
  5. Don’t try to climb in the train car once you hear the closing door alarm… If you do so, the doors are going to close on you, and your purse may very well stay stuck outside.

3 – Stand During Rush Hour

The little foldable seats located by the doors of the train car are called “un strapontin”.

It’s common French politeness to stand when there are many other people standing in the entrance of the train.

You’ll take less room standing than sitting.

4 – Do Give Up Your Seat

Whether you are sitting on “un strapontin” or in the designated sitting area, earn some “good tourists” points by offering your seat to an elderly person, someone traveling with an infant, or a pregnant woman.

Say “vous voulez vous asseoir ?” (would you like to seat) with a smile, and you’ll notice a vibe of appreciation coming from all your fellow passengers. You may even get a nod or a smile out of them.

If you are an elderly person or pregnant yourself, don’t hesitate to ask for a seat: “je peux m’asseoir s’il vous plait ?” (please may I sit down?). It’s common practice, and people should offer their seats gracefully… A courtesy that may need a friendly reminder (especially when the commuter is conveniently staring at his/her smartphone…)

Would you like to learn all this vocabulary and tips within the context of a realistic level-adapted French novel. My French audiobooks feature lively French stories recorded at 2 levels of enunciation: enunciated and modern spoken French.

All Levels Audio Novel Une Semaine à Paris

5 – Keep Your Métro Ticket Until You Go Through the Exit Doors

Always keep your valid ticket with you until after you exit the Paris underground train network (don’t throw it in the trash as you’ve just exit your subway car).

There are frequent controls in the corridors, or by the exit (not just within the métro car) and if you don’t have a valid “ticket de métro”, you will be fined!

6 – The Paris Subway = Stairs

Think twice before riding the Paris métro with a large suitcase or a bulky strollers. The Paris subway is mostly underground. Sometimes, such as for the métro line number 2, part of it is on bridges, overhead.

A few stations do have elevators, but most don’t.

In a lot of stations, you do have a side gate with a button you can buzz, and a clerc should let you in. If you have to do this, first put your ticket through the ticket machine at the gate so you have a valid stamped ticket. Then go through the gate…

If there is no such gate, I suggest pushing the said suitcase or stroller before you, and following fast: the ticket gate should stay open long enough for you to go through! (Pray it does…)

Honestly, don’t take the subway with a large suitcase, especially when it’s not a direct route… No self respecting Parisian would! Check the bus routes, or splurge for a Parisian taxi or an Uber!

7 – Think Twice Before Making a Connection

Be aware that some connection (une correspondance) are very long (and therefore involve A LOT of stairs)…

I’ve counted many fifteen minute (of fast walking) connections in the Paris subway… Thank goodness I was not hauling a suitcase!

Sometimes, they are very fast. Sometimes, you’ll be better off walking in the street, and enjoying the “fresh” air of Paris and the view, rather than making a long connection underground for only one or two stops… It doesn’t show on the map so… you have to know the Paris subway system to know the length of the connection.

Woman waiting for a train on the platform of Parisian underground

8 – Don’t Keep Your Subway Ticket Near Coins

Surprise! The black strip on the ticket is magnetised: being in contact with coins may de-magnetise the ticket, and the machine at the métro entrance will refuse it. So you shouldn’t keep your subway ticket in your wallet… How practical!

If this happens to you, and fortunately, you are at an entrance with a clerc, cut the line (how French) and just hand your ticket to the clerc…

You don’t really need to say anything, since this happens a lot, the clerc should understand and simply hand you another ticket… Just in case, say something like: “excusez-moi, mais mon ticket ne marche pas” (sorry, but my ticket doesn’t work).

9 – No Need For Another Ticket When You are Changing Direction

The Paris métro stations are announced by a loud speaker, and there are also maps on the walls where you can check your itinerary. Some are electric and you will see the next stations lit-up. It’s always a good idea to check with the map that you are actually going in the right direction!

If you are not, no panic!

Just get off at the next stop, and follow the sign showing the first station name of the direction you need to go to. No need to buy a new métro ticket, you can change direction, and make multiple connections with the same ticket.

Your ticket is valid until you go through the subway exit doors.

10 – Pickpockets & Scams in the Paris Subway Trains & Stations

Mind your belongings in the Paris subway. Unfortunately, there are many pickpockets, and they are extremely good at getting to your wallet, even if it’s in your front pocket or in your purse….

So wear your backpack on the front, on your torso, carry a purse which zips and keep you arm over it at all times. Better yet, wear a money belt (it’s not super trendy but it’s safe).

Be also careful with your smartphone. Unfortunately, thieves are now grabbing fancy smartphones and running away. So only look at your smartphone is “secure” situations, when you can hold it with both hands – not as your are climbing down the stairs…

Getting through the subway doors if you have many luggages is going to be a challenge. Be aware that you are particularly vulnerable at that point. There is usually a buzzer which opens a gate on the side to enter the subway when you have cumbersome luggages or a stroller.

There are many scams in the Paris subway: in particular, people dressed like subway employees who claim they will help you get your ticket. They’ll take your cash and give you a free child ticket, or anything but what you’ve paid for.

There are also real employees who are actually there to help tourists out… So not everything is a scam either! Something is clear: unless the person is at a booth behind a glass door, you should not hand them any cash. A legit employee will show you how to work the ticket machines: they may press the buttons for you, but you will be the one inserting cash or card into the machine.

There are also a lots of beggars in the Paris métro. Some will be in the corridors, some will board the cars, briefly shout out their sad life story and predicament, and then go through the car and ask for money.

Some people asking for money are artists, musicians: they’ll play something and then ask for money: enjoy, they are often excellent!

Whether you give money is up to you. I always give something to a good musician, but you certainly don’t have to.

Watch out though: giving some change out of your pocket is not a problem. Getting your wallet out and showing bank bills could put you at risk. So… if you plan on being generous, keep some change in your pocket before you get in the subway!

Be aware of your surroundings. If you look aware, you are less likely to become the target of pickpockets. Unfortunately, this is also a question of pure (bad) luck!

11 – The Ugliness & Beauty of the Paris Subway

Yes, you’ve heard many stories and I’ve just warned you… There are indeed many pickpockets, beggars etc… riding the Paris métro. But there is a large majority of normal, decent people. So, if you are in trouble, say so!

If you are lost, do ask for help: go straight to the point so people understand that you are not asking for money. SPEAK LOUD ENOUGH and say: “Ligne 1 – la Défense : c’est par là ? Je suis perdu, excusez-moi !” for example (Line one – La Défense: is it this way? I’m lost, so sorry). So start with the most important part of your message, be direct then you can be polite and apologize…

Be aware that the first person you ask may be too busy to even stop… It’s a bit rude, but, you are in a big city, and people are often in a rush… Don’t take it personally and try someone else.

The Paris subway is a tough environment. However, you will witness acts of candor for your fellow passengers: helping someone with a stroller down the stairs, giving up their seat for an older person… You do need to be aware of what could possibly go wrong, and you will see sad things such as homeless people catching a bit of a sleep in a station during the cold winter… You will smell pee and may catch glimpse of a rat or two (look on the rails…).

But you should also admire the beauty of some exceptional métro stations, enjoy the talent of incredible musicians, and see the kind gestures happening discreetly, but surely, all around you.

Before we move on to the Paris subway stations audio recording, and just for the pleasure of it, I’ll direct you to a photo gallery of Paris métro station pun photographs by Janol Apin (author of the main picture of this article). It’s quite fun!

Paris Métro Line 1 Stations Pronunciation

12 – Learn the Pronunciation of the Paris Subway Stations

Please note the Paris subway is always expanding, especially the newer lines. The name of the métro stops may also change: subway stations get renamed.

So there may be a few variations from the latest Paris subway plan, but I believe my recordings will cover the large majority of the Paris subway stations, and you will hear the correct French pronunciation.

Paris Subway Map 1 – Stations Recording

La Défense – Château de Vincenne

Click on the audio link to play the audio recording of the Paris métro stations.

  1. La Défense – Grande Arche
  2. Esplanade de la Défense
  3. Pont de Neuilly
  4. Les Sablons (Jardin d’Acclimatation)
  5. Porte Maillot
  6. Argentine
  7. Charles de Gaulle — Étoile
  8. George V
  9. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  10. Champs-Élysées — Clemenceau
  11. Concorde
  12. Tuileries
  13. Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre
  14. Louvre — Rivoli
  15. Châtelet
  16. Hôtel de Ville
  17. Saint-Paul (Le Marais)
  18. Bastille
  19. Gare de Lyon
  20. Reuilly — Diderot
  21. Nation
  22. Porte de Vincennes
  23. Saint-Mandé
  24. Bérault
  25. Château de Vincennes

Paris Subway Map 2 – Stations Recording

Porte Dauphine – Nation

Click on the audio bar to play the audio recording of the Paris métro stations for line number 2.

  1. Porte Dauphine
  2. Victor Hugo
  3. Charles de Gaulle Etoile
  4. Ternes
  5. Courcelles
  6. Monceau
  7. Villiers
  8. Rome
  9. Place de Clichy
  10. Blanche
  11. Pigalle
  12. Anvers
  13. Barbès Rochechouart
  14. La Chapelle
  15. Stalingrad
  16. Jaurès
  17. Colonel Fabien
  18. Belleville
  19. Couronnes
  20. Ménilmontant
  21. Père Lachaise
  22. Philippe Auguste
  23. Alexandre Dumas
  24. Avron
  25. Nation

Paris Subway Map 13 & 3 bis – Stations Recording

Pont de Levallois Bécon – Gallieni – Parc de Bagnolet

Please, click on the audio bar to play the audio recording of the Paris métro stations of line number 3 and 3bis.

  1. Pont de Levallois Bécon
  2. Anatole France
  3. Louise Michel
  4. Porte de Champerret
  5. Pereire
  6. Wagram
  7. Malesherbes
  8. Villiers
  9. Europe
  10. Saint-Lazare
  11. Opéra
  12. Quatre-Septembre
  13. Bourse
  14. Sentier
  15. Réaumur–Sébastopol
  16. Arts et Métiers
  17. Temple
  18. République
  19. Parmentier
  20. Rue Saint-Maur
  21. Père Lachaise
  22. Gambetta
  23. Porte de Bagnolet
  24. Gallieni – Parc de Bagnolet

Ligne 3 Bis

  1. Gambetta
  2. Pelleport
  3. Saint-Fargeau
  4. Porte des Lilas

Paris Subway Map 4 – Stations Recording

Porte de Clignancourt – Mairie de Montrouge

Click on the audio bar to play the audio recording of the Paris métro stations for line number four.

  1. Porte de Clignancourt
  2. Simplon
  3. Marcadet – Poissonniers
  4. Château Rouge
  5. Barbès-Rochechouart
  6. Gare du Nord
  7. Gare de l’Est
  8. Château d’eau
  9. Strasbourg – Saint-Denis
  10. Réaumur – Sébastopol
  11. Etienne Marcel
  12. Les Halles
  13. Châtelet
  14. Cité
  15. Saint-Michel
  16. Odéon
  17. Saint Germain-des-Prés
  18. Saint-Placide
  19. Montparnasse Bienvenüe
  20. Vavin
  21. Raspail
  22. Denfert-Rochereau
  23. Alésia
  24. Porte d’Orléans
  25. Mairie de Montrouge

Paris Subway Map 5 – Stations Recording

Bobigny Pablo Picasso – Place d’Italie

Click on the audio bar to play the audio recording of the Paris métro stations for line number five.

  1. Bobigny – Pablo Picasso
  2. Bobigny Pantin – Raymond Queneau
  3. Eglise de Pantin Hoche
  4. Porte de Pantin
  5. Ourcq
  6. Laumière
  7. Jaurès
  8. Stalingrad
  9. Gare du Nord
  10. Gare de l’Est
  11. Jacques Bonsergent
  12. République
  13. Oberkampf
  14. Richard-Lenoir
  15. Bréguet-Lenoir
  16. Bréguet – Sabin
  17. Bastille
  18. Quai de la râpée
  19. Gare d’Austerlitz
  20. Saint-Marcel
  21. Campo-Formio
  22. Place d’Italie

Paris Subway Map 6 – Stations Recording

Charles de Gaulle Étoile – Nation

Now let’s study how to pronounce the Paris subway stations.

  1. Charles de Gaulle Etoile
  2. Kleber
  3. Boissière
  4. Trocadéro
  5. Passy
  6. Bir-Hakeim
  7. Dupleix
  8. La Motte-Picquet
  9. Cambronne
  10. Sèvres – Lecourbe
  11. Pasteur
  12. Montparnasse – Bienvenüe
  13. Edgar Quinet
  14. Raspail
  15. Denfert – Rochereau
  16. Saint-Jacques
  17. Glacière
  18. Corvisart
  19. Place d’Italie
  20. Nationale
  21. Chevaleret
  22. Quai de la Gare
  23. Bercy
  24. Dugommier
  25. Daumesnil
  26. Bel-Air
  27. Picpus
  28. Nation

Paris Subway Map 7 – Stations Recording

La Courneuve – 8 Mai 1945 – Villejuif – Louis Aragon

  1. La Courneuve – 8 Mai 1945
  2. Fort d’Aubervilliers
  3. Aubervilliers – Pantin – Quatre Chemins
  4. Porte de la Villette
  5. Corentin Cariou
  6. Crimée
  7. Riquet
  8. Stalingrad
  9. Louis Blanc
  10. Château-Landon
  11. Gare de l’Est
  12. Poissonnière
  13. Cadet
  14. Le Peletier
  15. Chaussée d’Antin – La Fayette
  16. Opéra
  17. Pyramides
  18. Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre
  19. Pont Neuf
  20. Châtelet
  21. Pont Marie
  22. Sully – Morland
  23. Jussieu
  24. Place Monge
  25. Censier – Daubenton
  26. Les Gobelins
  27. Place d’Italie
  28. Tolbiac
  29. Maison Blanche
  30. Porte d’Italie
  31. Porte de Choisy
  32. Porte d’Ivry
  33. Pierre et Marie Curie
  34. Mairie d’Ivry
  35. Le Kremlin – Bicêtre
  36. Villejuif – Léo Lagrange
  37. Villejuif – Paul Vaillant – Couturier
  38. Villejuif – Louis Aragon

Paris Subway Map 8 – Stations Recording

Balard – Pointe du Lac

  1. Balard
  2. Lourmel
  3. Boucicaut
  4. Felix Faure
  5. Commerce
  6. La Motte
  7. Ecole Militaire
  8. La Tour Maubourg
  9. Invalides
  10. Concorde
  11. Madeleine
  12. Opéra
  13. Richelieu – Drouot
  14. Grands Boulevards
  15. Bonne-Nouvelle
  16. Strasbourg – Saint-Denis
  17. République
  18. Filles du Calvaire
  19. Saint-Sébastien – Froissart
  20. Chemin Vert
  21. Bastille
  22. Ledru-Rollin
  23. Faidherbe – Chaligny
  24. Reuilly – Diderot
  25. Montgallet
  26. Daumesnil
  27. Michel Bizot
  28. Porte Dorée
  29. Porte de Charenton
  30. Liberté
  31. Charenton – Ecoles
  32. Ecole vétérinaire de Maisons-Alfort
  33. Maisons-Alfort – Stade
  34. Maisons-Alfort – Les Juillotes
  35. Créteil – L’Échat
  36. Créteil – Université
  37. Créteil – Préfecture
  38. Pointe du Lac

Paris Subway Map 9 – Stations Recording

Pont de Sèvres – Mairie de Montreuil

  1. Pont de Sèvres
  2. Billancourt
  3. Marcel Semblat
  4. Porte de Saint-Cloud
  5. Exelmans
  6. Michel-Ange – Molitor
  7. Michel-Ange – Auteuil
  8. Jasmin
  9. Ranelagh
  10. La Muette
  11. Rue de la Pompe
  12. Trocadéro
  13. Iéna
  14. Alma – Marceau
  15. Franklin D Roosevelt
  16. Saint-Philippe du Roule
  17. Miromesnil
  18. Saint-Augustin
  19. Havre – Caumartin
  20. Chaussée d’Antin – La Fayette
  21. Richelieu – Drouot
  22. Grands Boulevards
  23. Bonne-Nouvelle
  24. Strasbourg – Saint-Denis
  25. République
  26. Oberkampf
  27. Saint-Ambroise
  28. Voltaire
  29. Charonne
  30. Rue des Boulets
  31. Nation
  32. Buzenval
  33. Maraîchers
  34. Porte de Montreuil
  35. Robespierre
  36. Croix de Chavaux
  37. Mairie de Montreuil

Paris Subway Map 10 – Stations Recording

Boulogne – Pont de Saint-Cloud

  1. Boulogne – Pont de Saint-Cloud
  2. Boulogne – Jean Jaurès
  3. Porte d’Auteuil
  4. Michel-Ange Auteuil
  5. Eglise d’Auteuil
  6. Michel-Ange Molitor
  7. Chardon Lagache
  8. Mirabeau
  9. Javel – André Citroën
  10. Charles Michels
  11. Avenue Emile-Zola
  12. La Motte-Picquet – Grenelle
  13. Ségur
  14. Duroc
  15. Vaneau
  16. Sèvres – Babylone
  17. Mabillon
  18. Odéon
  19. Cluny – La Sorbonne
  20. Maubert – Mutualité
  21. Cardinal Lemoine
  22. Jussieu
  23. Gare d’Austerlitz

Paris Subway Map 11 – Stations Recording

Châtelet – Mairie des Lilas

  1. Châtelet
  2. Hôtel de Ville
  3. Rambuteau
  4. Arts et Métiers
  5. République
  6. Goncourt
  7. Belleville
  8. Pyrénées
  9. Jourdain
  10. Place des Fêtes
  11. Télégraphe
  12. Porte des Lilas
  13. Mairie des Lilas

Paris Subway Map 12 – Stations Recording

Aubervilliers – Front Populaire – Mairie d’Issy

  1. (Aubervilliers – Front Populaire) – sorry not recorded!
  2. Porte de la Chapelle
  3. Marx Dormoy
  4. Marcadet – Poissonniers
  5. Jules Joffrin
  6. Lamarck – Caulaincourt
  7. Abbesses
  8. Pigalle
  9. Saint-Georges
  10. Notre-Dame-de-Lorette
  11. Trinité – d’Estiennes d’Orves
  12. Saint-Lazare
  13. Madeleine
  14. Concorde
  15. Assemblée nationale
  16. Solferino
  17. Rue du Bac
  18. Sèvres – Babylone
  19. Rennes
  20. Notre-Dame-des-Champs
  21. Montparnasse – Bienvenüe
  22. Falguière
  23. Pasteur
  24. Volontaires
  25. Vaugirard
  26. Convention
  27. Porte de Versailles
  28. Corentin Celton
  29. Mairie d’Issy

Paris Subway Map 13 – Stations Recording

Les Courtilles / Saint-Denis Université – Châtillon / Montrouge

This line recently extended and the audio missing a couple of stations – sorry!

  1. Saint Denis – Université
  2. Basilique de Saint-Denis
  3. Saint-Denis – Porte de Paris
  4. Carrefour Pleyel
  5. Mairie de Saint Ouen
  6. Garibaldi
  7. Porte de Saint-Ouen
  8. Guy Môquet
  9. Asnières – Gennevilliers – Les Courtilles
  10. Les Agnettes
  11. Gabriel Péri
  12. Mairie de Clichy
  13. Porte de Clichy
  14. Brochant
  15. La Fourche
  16. Place de Clichy
  17. Liège
  18. Saint-Lazare
  19. Miromesnil
  20. Champs-Elysées – Clémenceau
  21. Invalides
  22. Varenne
  23. Saint-François-Xavier
  24. Duroc
  25. Montparnasse – Bienvenüe
  26. Gaîté
  27. Pernety
  28. Plaisance
  29. Porte de Vanves
  30. Malakoff – Plateau de
  31. Malakoff – Rue Etienne
  32. Châtillon – Montrouge

Paris Subway Map 14 – Stations Recording

Saint Lazare – Olympiades

  1. Saint Lazare
  2. Madeleine
  3. Pyramides
  4. Châtelet
  5. Gare de Lyon
  6. Bercy
  7. Cour Saint-Emilion
  8. Bibliothèque François Mitterrand

Good luck with your trip to France!

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