What is the process of buying tickets for the Paris subway system?
There are ticket machines at every station that can work in English and accept euro coins and bills. Some stations also have people who sell tickets.
What is unclear to you?
Oh, I guess I'm worried about the language. If instructions for buying subway tickets are in English, that should do it. There will be five of us (3 adults, 2 children) getting from the airport to Gentilly. Any idea of the cost? Will 5 be a problem? Thanks.
When you approach the ticket machine just take your time and look for the English version I think you just scroll down, not sure about cost but should be reasonable, 5 pax should not be a problem
From the airport (CDG?) you won't be taking the metro... it is a train called the RER. The cost is 8.70 per person. I suspect you will need to line up for tickets at a staffed booth as your credit card will not work. Simply follow signs for "Paris by Train". There is a stop at Gentilly.
On the other hand, with 5 people and luggage, taking a taxi might be more convenient and cost effective. Simply wait in line at the taxi rank and the dispatcher will match you up with a cab of suitable size for your group.
Gentilly is actually a suburb of Paris, not in the city proper. The good news is that it has a station on RER Line B, the line that serves CDG, so you will not have to change trains if that is where you are coming from. However the one way fare will be €10.65, not €8.70. (Fares will increase by about 3% on 1 July.)
A taxi would probably be no more expensive if you are all adults but there will be an extra charge for the 4th and 5th passengers (€2.95 each) and for each piece of luggage after the first (€1).. Children ages 4 through 9 pay half fare on public transport..
You will have to take RER B into Paris every day. You could look into buying a pass that would cover Zones 1-3. Gentilly is in Zone 3. Otherwise each one way trip will cost €2.35 until 1 July. You can buy a carnet of 10 tickets between Gentilly and Paris with a 20% discount.
Here are some links that will help you understand the system and your various pass options:
More info at www.ratp.fr
Is there a good reason that you chose to stay in Gentilly?
We're staying in Gentilly because of swapping apartments with a person from there. Can you say something about Gentilly? How long is the trip to central Paris? Any idea of the cost of a taxi? My maps of Paris, including one of the arrondissements don't have details about Gentilly. Ideas about obtaining maps? I don't like printouts from the web. Thanks.
Your best bet for a map of Gentilly is to ask for one at the Gentilly Town hall or ask the owner of the apartment you will be staying at to leave you a map of the town. Apart from a wikipedia article you won't find much about Gentilly in English as suburban towns are not used to catering to tourists (which will make your stay all the more authentic!). There is an interactive map on the town's website but everything is in French.
If you look at the links that Irish Rovr provided you will see that the Gentilly stop is 7 minutes to Luxembourg, 10 minutes to St-Michel, 12 minutes to Châtelet-les-Halles, etc so it's very convenient. RER B runs every 5 to 10 minutes. The owners of the place will surely leave you all kinds of useful information, or at least you can ask them to.