Official Map: Paris Metro/RER/Tram Map
If you visit Paris, you need to use the Metro to get around, so it’s a good thing that its map is up to the task. It took Paris a long time to come around to a diagrammatic approach (Harry Beck created two versions on spec, but both were rejected), and earlier diagrams were not as successful as this - one had all vertical lines set at a jaunty 15-degree angle, which made the whole city look like it was leaning to the right (a subject for a future post, I think!).
Have we been there? Yes, in 1997 and again in 2003. In 2003, I was in Paris for almost three weeks and used the Metro every single day - it’s one of my favourite transit systems in the world. Fast, cheap (even more so if you buy carnets instead of single tickets), reliable and almost always convenient - the system is incredibly dense, with stations just about everywhere you look.
What we like: The sheer amount of information presented in a very clear, concise and ordered manner: Metro, RER commuter rail, tram lines, the Montmartre funicular, even an indication of mainline train services, all in an understated, very French, pastel colour scheme. This map proves beyond doubt that you can present all type horizontally in a transit diagram if you really try - not one line of type is angled, and it rarely cuts across route lines. Interchanges, especially between different modes of transport, are very clear and well thought out.
What we don’t like: Station names on the tram lines are a little small, and the closeness of stations on the T1 (blue) line in the upper left causes it to look like an “under construction” dashed line. The pastel color palette does lead to a few very similar colours (mainly greens), but ultimately this isn’t a huge problem as the route lines themselves are pretty easy to follow and the similar colours generally only cross each other, not follow the same path.
Our rating: An extraordinarily elegant diagram (and very evocative of Parisian style - this map definitely has a sense of place about it), especially considering the amount of information it packs in. Five stars.
(Source: Official RATP website)