Taking the metro or RER...
Taking a taxi...
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).
On this page...
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 'plans des lignes' on the left.
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.
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 €12.00. 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: If you haven't any euros, the ticket machines will let you use a credit card even to buy one 1.60 euro 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:
Call the G7 Taxis English-speaking line on +33 1 41 27 66 99. Lines open 24 hours.
Bookings can be made from 7 days until 1 hour before you need the taxi. You may want to call as your Eurostar approaches Paris, and you know that it's on time.
A credit card guarantee may be required at certain peak times.
Book the taxi for at least 10 minutes after the scheduled arrival of your Eurostar. They'll give you a booking reference. The taxi will wait up to 5 minutes if you don't turn up on time (you may be charged for the waiting time!).
For some reason, their taxis can't or won't use the official station taxi ranks, so at the Gare du Nord they will normally tell you that the taxi will wait at 12, Boulevard du Denain, across the road directly opposite the front of the station. Similarly, if you're being picked up at the Gare de Lyon, ask to be picked up at number 2, Place Louis Arnand, which is outside the Hotel Mercure, just walk outside the station onto the forecourt and turn left. The taxis have a 'G7' sticker inside the rear window (see the photo to the right).
If you tell them you're arriving by train, some G7 staff will refuse to book a taxi for you and tell you to call back on the day of travel. In fact, I suspect these staff are following their company policy, whereas other staff happily conspire with you to pre-book one, using an address that doesn't look like a station pick-up (which may explain the point above!). So it's probably better to avoid mentioning that you're arriving by train, use the '12, Boulevard du Denain' address above instead of mentioning the Gare du Nord, and if the staff member refuses to book a taxi because they suspect you're arriving by train, either (a) politely insist on pre-booking a pick up from one of the above addresses instead of the 'Gare du Nord' or 'Gare de Lyon', as it may be the reluctance to pick up from stations that's the problem, or (b) put the phone down, re-dial and get a more helpful member of staff who will pre-book it for you. Yes, you really can pre-book one of their taxis, but some G7 staff are more helpful than others in getting around their company's rather self-defeating and hazy rules about train-related taxi bookings...
Of course, you could call G7 Taxis on the day of travel using your mobile once your Eurostar exits the Channel Tunnel, and then you'll be sure you've reached France running on time. That might a good option! +33 1 41 27 66 99.
You just pay the taxi driver at the end of the journey in the normal way, based on what the meter says, around €17-€19 from Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon, Gare de Bercy or Gare d'Austerlitz, plus the 5 euro booking fee. The drivers accept both cash (euro) and credit cards. A recent Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord trip cost 25 euro including the booking fee and a five minute wait as we were a bit late.
If you use this service, feedback would be very welcome. It's reported that they may not accept taxi bookings during the Paris rush-hour.
Alternatively, go to www.taxi-paris.net (+33 6 07 60 49 14, email@example.com) and book a hassle-free private transfer specifically designed to meet trains and take you across Paris to board another train. This service gets good reports, with an English-speaking driver meeting you at the Eurostar arrival gate with his car parked right outside the station. The only downside is the cost, around €60 per car plus €1 per luggage item, 4th & 5th passengers a few euro extra. They may ask for a 50% deposit. If you use this service, feedback would be very welcome.
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!
Left luggage in Paris...
If you want to spend some time in Paris, there are left luggage lockers ('Consigne automatique' in French, but signs are also in English) at the Gare du Nord, Gare de Lyon and Gare d'Austerlitz. Expect to have your bags X-rayed before entering the locker area, see the luggage page for locker sizes and prices. There are no facilities for leaving bikes, surfboards or skis.
Metro routes from the Gare du Nord...
Gare du Nord ▶ Gare de l'Est
It's an easy 10 minute walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est, much easier than going just one stop on the metro.
Walk out of the Gare du Nord onto the street in front of the station.
Turn left along the front of the station, and keep going straight ahead of you up the Rue de Dunkerque until the tracks leading into the Gare de l'Est stop you going any further.
Turn right into the Rue d'Alsace along the tracks, descending the long flight of pedestrian steps to the side entrance of the Gare de l'Est.
This is the quickest and shortest route, but to avoid the long flight of steps, walk out of the Gare du Nord and across the road into the Boulevard de Denain straight ahead of you, turn left into the Boulevard de Magenta, then left again into the Rue du 8 Mai 1945. This route is a bit longer, but gives level access from one station to the other.
Gare du Nord ▶ Gare de Lyon Step-by-step video guide
Walk off the end of the Eurostar platform, turn left, and follow the signs for RER line D.
All RER line D trains stop at the Gare de Lyon, as long as you get on one going in the right direction. So follow the signs for 'RER D direction Melun / Malesherbes'. Trains may be shown as going to Melun, Malesherbes or Corbeil-Essonnes, these all stop at the Gare de Lyon.
Take RER line D two stops direct to the Gare de Lyon. The train ride only takes 7 minutes. There's one stop on the way, if it's Chatelet-les-Halles you know you're on the right train!
The whole trip from the Gare du Nord concourse to the Gare de Lyon concourse takes about 25 minutes including walking time, buying a ticket from the machines and waiting a few minutes for an RER train.
At both the Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon there are escalators (and/or lifts) between the mainline station concourse, the RER concourse and the RER platforms, making it relatively easy even with luggage or a pushchair. To access the RER, there are also special wide ticket gates for passengers with luggage or pushchairs.
Top tip: If you've time for a meal, coffee or beer whilst waiting at the Gare de Lyon, try the famous Train Bleu restaurant on the main concourse.
2-minute step-by-step video guide: If you still find crossing Paris is daunting, see the 2-minute step-by-step video guide!
Alternative by bus: If you prefer to travel on the surface by bus, no problem. It takes a while longer than the metro or RER, but costs the same. Walk out of the front of Gare du Nord – the huge ‘Brasserie Terminus Nord’ will be almost directly in front of you. Look to the left of it and you'll see a small street leading off to the right, the Rue de Saint Quentin. Head for this street and as you turn right into it, you’ll see the bus stop just ahead on the right. An electronic display will show the the minutes remaining before the next 65 is due. The fare is 1 metro ticket – same as on metro/RER; just push it into the machine near the driver to validate it. Keep an eye on the location indicator until the bus rounds the huge Bastille traffic circus and heads into Rue de Lyon. The station's clock tower should now be just visible out the front of the bus. Get off at the last stop in Rue de Lyon and the station will be just across the Boulevard Diderot. If you miss this stop the bus terminates just round the corner alongside the station anyway, but it’s less convenient.
Gare du Nord ▶ Gare de Bercy
Walk off the end of the Eurostar platform, turn left and follow the signs for RER line D.
Take RER line D two stops from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon (follow signs 'RER D direction Melun / Malesherbes'). Trains may be shown as going to Melun, Malesherbes or Corbeil-Essonnes.
- Take metro line 14 one stop from Gare de Lyon to Bercy (follow signs 'M14 direction Olympiades'). Or you can walk from Gare de Lyon to Bercy, it's about 600 metres.
The mainline Gare de Bercy is a stone's throw from Bercy metro station. Go up the steps to street level, then around the corner with the 'Cafe Chambertin', and you can see it ahead of you past the Hotel Claret.
Gare du Nord ▶ Gare d'Austerlitz
Walk off the Eurostar platform, veer left, and follow the signs for metro line M5.
- Take metro line 5 direct to the Gare d'Austerlitz (follow signs 'M5 direction Place d'Italie').
Line M5 climbs out above ground, crosses the Seine on a bridge and arrives at the Gare d'Austerlitz on a high-level station opposite the mainline station entrance.
Gare du Nord ▶ Gare Montparnasse
Walk off the Eurostar platform, turn left, and follow the signs for Metro line M4.
Take metro line M4 direct to Montparnasse Bienvenue (follow signs 'M4 direction Porte d'Orléans').
In contrast to other Paris mainline stations, where the metro platforms are more or less directly underneath the mainline platforms, at Montparnasse it's a 700 metre (750 yard) underground walk from the metro station to the mainline TGV platforms through broad well-lit well-signed subways, with moving walkways for the long bits. Allow plenty of time for the transfer, and if you're not good with longish walks with luggage (even with the moving walkways), consider taking a taxi from Paris Nord to the Gare Montparnasse.
Gare du Nord ▶ Gare Saint Lazare
Walk off the Eurostar platform and follow the signs for RER line E direction Haussmann Saint-Lazare.
Take RER line E one stop to 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
It's an easy 10 minute walk from the Gare de l'Est to the Gare du Nord, far easier than taking the metro.
Walk off the end of the platform, turn right along the concourse and walk out of the Gare de l'Est side entrance (marked "Sortie rue d'Alsace")
Turn right and walk up the long flight of pedestrian steps, with the tracks into the Gare de l'Est on your right.
Ignore the first left turn into the Rue des Deux Gares, but take the second left turn into Rue de Dunkerque. You'll now see the magnificent facade of the Gare du Nord straight ahead of you.
This is the quickest and shortest route, but to avoid the long flight of steps, walk out of the Gare de 'Est and turn right down the Rue du 8 Mai 1945. Turn right into the Boulevard de Magenta then right again into the Boulevard de Denain. The Gare du Nord is now straight ahead of you. This route is a bit longer, but gives level access from one station to the other.
Gare de Lyon ▶ Gare du Nord
Follow signs to 'RER D'. You want direction 'Orry la Ville', which usually means RER 'D' platforms 2 & 4. RER 'D' platforms 1 & 3 are for trains in the other direction.
- Take RER line D two stops direct to the Gare du Nord. The actual train ride only takes 7 minutes. All RER D trains call at the Gare du Nord.
The whole trip from the Gare de Lyon concourse to the Gare du Nord concourse takes about 25 minutes including walking time, buying a ticket from the machines and waiting a few minutes for an RER train.
- At both the Gare de Lyon and Gare du Nord there are escalators (and/or lifts) between the mainline station concourse, the RER concourse and the RER platforms, making it relatively easy even with luggage or a pushchair. To access the RER platforms, there are also special wide ticket gates for passengers with luggage or pushchairs.
- Alternative by bus: If you prefer to travel on the surface by bus, no problem. It takes a bit longer than the metro or RER, but costs the same - one metro ticket. Head straight out the front of Gare de Lyon and there are several bus stops in the Boulevard Diderot in front of you, both to the right and left. Head to the right and use the crossing to get to the 2nd bus lane in the street and check that is the one for bus 65 – direction Mairie d’Aubervilliers. Push your ticket into the machine near the driver to validate it. Stay on the bus as it turns into Rue de Faubourg Saint Denis. After a few minutes it will cross Rue de la Fayette and then the junction of Rue de Dunkerque, then get ready to jump off. The stop is about 100 metres up Rue de Faubourg Saint Denis and you need to walk back from this stop and turn right into Rue de Dunkerque to reach the Gare du Nord's entrance.
Gare de Bercy ▶ Gare du Nord
Walk out of the mainline station onto the forecourt, down the steps and across the road ahead of you. The metro station is just round the corner.
Take metro line 14 from Bercy to Gare de Lyon (just one stop, follow signs 'M14 direction Saint Lazare').
Take RER line D from the Gare de Lyon to the Gare du Nord (just two stops, follow signs 'RER D direction Orry la Ville').
- Alternatively, walk 600 metres to the Gare de Lyon and take the RER direct to the Gare du Nord.
Gare d'Austerlitz ▶ Gare du Nord
- Take metro line 5 direct to the Gare du Nord (follow signs 'M5 direction Bobigny').
The M5 metro station at the Gare d'Austerlitz is a high-level station opposite the mainline station entrance. Line M5 crosses the Seine then dives underground for the rest of the journey.
Gare Montparnasse ▶ Gare du Nord
Take metro line M4 direct to the Gare du Nord (follow signs 'M4 direction Porte Clignancourt').
Note that in contrast to other Paris mainline stations where the metro is directly underneath the mainline station, at Montparnasse it's a 700 metre (750 yard) underground walk (with steps in places) from the mainline TGV platforms to the metro station, through broad well-lit well-signed subways, with moving walkways for the long bits. Allow plenty of time for this particular transfer.
Gare Saint Lazare ▶ Gare du Nord
Follow signs 'RER E direction Tournan & Chelles Gournay'.
Take RER line E one stop to Magenta, which is connected to the 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):||
minutes, if missing it simply means catching the next
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):||
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!