Tips for using the Paris Metro with a stroller… if you must

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"Silly American... why must you insist on using the Metro with your stroller?"
“Silly American… why must you insist on using the Metro with your stroller?”

If there’s one thing you can learn from Parisian parents about taking strollers on the Metro, it’s this: they don’t. Taking the bus at ground level (my bus tips here) or simply walking is a far more reasonable proposition in many instances, especially if you’re planning to get around the city on your own with your child. Not to mention, traveling above ground you’ll all have a much better view of the city.

But if you plan to use the Paris Metro at all while visiting with your baby or toddler—and your stroller, as some of us crazy visitors do repeatedly, here are some survival tips to help.

  1. Only take the Paris Metro with a stroller that can be folded compactly enough to carry through a turnstile and you could happily carry for a mile without setting down (if you’re unfortunate enough to enter the Eustache station or some others, you likely will).
  2. Wear only a purse or backpack you can keep a firm grip on and in your (front) view while carrying said stroller or your child. In my opinion, a shoulder carrying strap for the stroller is essential (see recommendations here).
  3. Never expect a ticket agent to be present at a turnstile to help buzz you through a special gate or otherwise assist your passage with your child and stroller—as you might in New York or San Francisco systems—because as a general rule they are nowhere near these locations, and handicapped entrances do not exist.
  4. Never try to force your way into a crowded metro car you can’t be certain everyone in your party will make it into. That may sound obvious, but you might be surprised how little Parisians will budge to help fit travelers with small children—especially those foolish enough to board the metro with their ridiculous strollers. 😉
  5. Buy a book of ten metro tickets at a time (carnet dix) and keep them handy—the same tickets can also be used on the city buses, which you may decide are a much better way to get around Paris with your toddler after all. Each ticket is valid for a one-way journey for one individual, so you can share the book of ten if you like. A discounted “carnet dix” is available for children 4 – 9 years, and children 3 years and younger ride free on public transportation.

One final word of advice: Please remember to feel a deep appreciation everywhere you do find an elevator to assist in your strollering around Paris because, after all, it is a miracle any exist in some of these grand old buildings. And where they do… you’re likely to get special attention and even skip the queue!

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Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks

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