The RER is a rapid-transit train that connects Paris with its surrounding suburbs. It’s not quite as user-friendly for visitors since the RER is mostly used by commuters who live outside the city. In general, most visitors will only use the RER if they’re visiting Versailles or CDG airport.
The RER uses a different, and more expensive, ticket than the normal Metro ticket. However, you can ride the RER with a normal Metro ticket if the entire journey occurs within the city (see below).
For example, the RER C line cuts through the center of Paris and has stops at Saint-Michel (Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter), Musee d’Orsey and Pont de l’Alma (Eiffel Tower). All these stops are within the city so you can use a normal Metro ticket. If the destination is within Zones 1-2 then you’re good to go (the zones are clearly marked on Metro maps)
Conversely, Versailles (Zone 4) is outside the city so you’d have to purchase a different RER ticket.
Buying RER Tickets
Buying point-to-point RER tickets is easy. Head to any automated ticket machine and type in your destination. Select it, pay, and the machine will give you the ticket. You can also buy tickets at the station window.
Keep your ticket for the entire journey because you’ll need the ticket to open the exit turnstile at your destination. If you don’t have the ticket you won’t be allowed to leave the station.
Navigating the RER
The RER can be a bit tricky because the lines split once they get out of the city. For example, the RER C has the RER C1, RER C2, RER C3… all the way to RER C12.
Just make sure you’re paying attention to the signs so that you get on the correct train and that it’s going in the correct direction.
Any ride that both starts and ends within Zone 1 or Zone 2 can be made with a normal Metro ticket. Any other journey will need an actual RER ticket.
Finding An RER Station
RER stations are well-marked but there are much fewer stations within Paris so you’ll have to seek them out. Most RER stations within Paris are also combined with Metro stations — but you’ll be fine if you follow the signs.
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Thanks For Reading! — James