|Riding RER Trains in Paris, France
Paris's RER trains take a bit of learning. Read this page before you ride an RER train in Paris, and you'll save yourself lots of confusion and time.
Buying Your Ticket
Enter a station that serves the RER line you want: A, B, C, D or E. For a short hop of a few stations in central Paris, a Paris Visite ticket or Navigo transit pass will work. A Métro ticket may work, but to be sure, you should buy an RER ticket for your journey. RER fares are based on a zone system:
Tell the ticket agent your destination and say "EHR-uh-EHR" (RER). "One-way/single" is Aller simple (AH-ley SAM-pluh); round-trip/return is Aller-retour (AH-leh ruh-TOOR).
Keep your ticket, as you will need it to exit the station at the end of your journey. Also, if you're traveling from central Paris to an airport (Orly or Charles de Gaulle), buy your RER ticket before beginning your journey. Read this warning about difficulty passing from the Métro to the RER at some stations!
Finding Your Platform
Follow signs such as this to your RER train platform:
Reading the Train Schedules
Each RER train has a cryptic, seemingly nonsensical 4-letter code (PIER, KARI, SORI, EFLA, EKLI, etc.) based on the stations it serves. The first letter of the code indicates the train's destination. (For example, all trains with codes beginning in "E" go from central Paris to Aérogare 2 at Charles de Gaulle Airport.)
On the Train Platform
The 4-letter train codes (see photo to the right—>) are used on the printed train schedules posted in each station, and monitors and electronic signs show the code of the train that will be departing from that platform.
This older sort of electronic sign (below) shows the stations served (Gares desservies) by that particular train:
On the sign above, illuminated squares to the left of each station name show that this train stops at GARE DU NORD and six other stations before reaching MITRY-CLAYE, but it does not stop at AEROPORT CH. DE GAULLE 1 or 2 or six other stations.
Note also (lower right corner of the sign) that this is a Train Long, meaning that it will extend the full length of the platform. A Train Court (Short Train) will only extend along part of the platform, up to the Arrière des Trains Courts sign:
Remember to keep your RER ticket until you are outside your arrival station—you will need your ticket to exit the station!