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Getting around Paris economically

My husband & I will be traveling to Paris in May. We will first be in London for 6 nights & then Paris for 7 nights. There are so many things I want to see while we are in Paris so I've priced it out & we will be getting a Museum Pass for 6 days for each of us but I am still not sure what is the best way to purchase our Metro tickets. I know we can purchase carnets of 10 tickets each but for a week in Paris is there a better (read more economical) way to use the Metro? Someone mentioned a Navigo Pass to me. Would that work better? Are there other options? We will be arriving from London via Eurostar on a Monday and leaving the following Monday from Charles de Gaulles airport. One of the days in Paris we plan to visit Versailles as well. Any suggestions on what we will need or the best way to accomplish this? I didn't think we'd use the buses but we could if those are sometimes the best option. I've been to Paris once last year and we mostly rode the Metro, the buses a couple of times & the RER to go to Versailles. However that was a totally guided tour with my daughter's French club. My husband & I will be traveling by ourselves. Thanks for any info that would help.

Posted by
27709 posts

Some of the right answer will depend on your hotel location and how much to-ing and frow-ing you will be doing, and if you will be traveling around for dinner and that.

If you are walkers, and it sounds like you are, and you don't have far to go to do what you want to do, you may very well still be best with carnets.

I recently got back and we were in less good shape and staying out in the 19th so we bought Navigo Decouverte cards and they paid off for us.

My calculations go like this. At current prices, zone 1-2 Navigo Decouverte costs €25.40 each for the purchase of the card (€5) and the week cards load. Note that you would need separate tickets for both the Versailles and CDG journeys.

My memory is that the current price for for a carnet is €1.34 per ticket, that one Mobilis zone 1-2 day pass is equivalent to 5 carnet journeys each day. 3 Mobilis cards equals one Navigo Decouverte.

You timing is perfect for a Navigo Decouverte if you want to get one - they run Monday to Sunday only and then you would head out to CDG on the Monday. So will you, on at least 3 days during the week, use at least 5 journeys in zones 1-2? The card is exceedingly easy to use and not hard to get, especially if you have the right sized photos ready to hand over. I did find that the person behind the window had worse English than my pretty awful French.

The €5 purchase charge for the Navigo Decouverte is not refundable like the £5 deposit on London Oyster Cards but it is a purchase which ups the single use of the card some. It is fine for me because I will spend other weeks in Paris before it runs out in 5 years, but you may not want to pay that....

Posted by
6478 posts

As Nigel said it depends on where you are staying and how much moving around you'll be doing. I stayed in Paris for a month and used a bit fewer than 2 carnets during that time (17 tickets total) I did a lot of walking because I stayed close to most of the tourist attractions and I like to walk. So, it's hard to predict how often you'll use the metro. Nigel gave you good information about costs so you can go from there.

Posted by
697 posts

We are staying in an apartment on Rue de Vaugirard, close to Luxembourg Gardens. And I would say, yes we definitely will be using the Metro pretty much every day we are in Paris other than maybe one day to explore the Latin Quarter on foot and possibly Saint Germain des Pres area. My husband is not much of a walker so I think he will want to hop on either a bus or the Metro while in Paris to get close to where we want to explore. Thanks for the info. It is much appreciated.

Posted by
2081 posts


I used the carnet tickets since they worked out for me and my style of travel and planning. I plan my trips and that includes where im going to see that day. With that i plan sort of a path to minimize my walking time from place to place and i group the attractions too so im not cris crossing a city wasting my time & $$$.

i was able to spend 4 full days in paris and use 15 or so tickets. i brought the rest home with me for souvenirs.

you can do alot of walking in paris too but it can eat up your signtseeing time so its balance.

happy trails.

Posted by
8390 posts

In the past we've used carnets of 10 tickets but last year on a visit we got the Carte Navigo and found we used it enough for it to pay for itself. I calculated three tickets a day per person and we were even. I recommend it for you as you'll be there from Monday to Monday, the days the weekly tickets start. It will free you up mentally to catch the metro or bus as often as you want for as long or short of a distance as you want.

Posted by
5455 posts

Echoing the last message, it's crucial that you are arriving on a Monday or Tuesday. Navigo is a Calendar Week product, Monday-Sunday. I happen to have grown up in a US city, so I am used to public transportation. If you are not used to being aware of bus and subway routes, and hopping on and off to save your legs, you may need an "attitude adjustment" to make the best use of this. Boston and Chicago, for example, are relatively walkable cities. Paris is much bigger, and you need this pass. But if you expect to ask people on the street which bus to take, you will be disappointed, and will feel you didn't get a good value. Even in New York City, the average resident may know only the route he/she takes to work each day! You need a Rick Steves (or somebody's) guidebook, or a (free) transit map to be aware of how you are going to do this. (You also need a vague understanding of the Zones, so you you don't accidentally break the law by riding too far.)

Posted by
183 posts

My wife and I spent I spent 6 days in paris in sept. We used the carnet of 10 tickets for the subway and it worked great and got us around paris to all the sights quickly and efficiently .We bought tickets for the train and spent the day in versaille .It was a great way of getting around and it wasn't expensive .