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Which Metro pass?

We will be in Paris for about 2 weeks, with side trips to Versailles, Chartres, Giverny, and Bayeux. Our hotel is near the Arc de Triomphe, so much of the city will be accessible on foot. Nevertheless, we will be using the Metro, maybe once a day, plus the RER (and others?) for the out-of-town trips.
I find the descriptions of the different Metro tickets to be very confusing. Given our itinerary, can anyone recommend the best form of ticket to get? There are 2 of us. Thanks in advance!

Posted by
16941 posts

You don't say how you are arriving in Paris or how you are leaving. Very important information for any one who will answer intelligently. Also "about 2 weeks". What day are you arriving and what day are you leaving? The Navigo Weekly Pass only goes Monday morning to Sunday night.

Posted by
19 posts

We are arriving by plane to CDG, but we will no doubt take a taxi to the hotel. We will arrive on a Monday morning (July 1) and leave 2 weeks later, also on the Monday (July 15). We will no doubt take a taxi to CDG that morning as well.
Thanks.

Posted by
19 posts

Hello, Jazz+Travels.
I live in NYC, so I'm familiar with the subway. If there weren't so many choices in Paris, it would be a lot easier!
Thanks.

Posted by
7263 posts

I've been Paris about 9 times since 2002; I always just buy a set of 10 tickets at a time never a pass.
This is known as a carnet. Those are sold out of a kiosk machine in the metro.
You can buy an RER ticket out of machine as well.
There may be a youtube video so can see how it is done.
Have you traveled to a city in the states that has metro? These are pretty much the same systems

Posted by
16941 posts

To go to Versailles, you buy separate tickets, since you will take the RER C to get there. The ticket will be something like 3.50 EUR per person each way, and will include the Metro ride to one of the RER C stations along the Left Bank of the Seine. You will need to hold on to your ticket to exit the station at Versailles Rive Gauche-Chateau. BTW, always hold onto your Metro tickets until you have completely exited the system. They do spot checks occasionally and you can get fined if you cannot produce your ticket.

To get to Chartres, take the Metro to Montparnasse station and buy tickets to Chartres there. You can buy them out of a machine as well. Same for Giverny and Bayeux, except the station is St Lazare. You might get a discount to Bayeaux if you buy tickets on-line a few days in advance.

Posted by
467 posts

Your situation is more or less ideal for two weeklong Navigo Découverte weekly passes. They are strictly good from Monday through Sunday at a time, but since your trip starts on a Monday and ends on a Monday (on which it sounds like you will basically just be heading to the airport) the timing overlaps nearly perfectly.

The cost is €22.30 for a week and covers all travel on the Paris Metro, buses and RER. It especially makes sense for the week in which you go to Versailles -- a round-trip to Versailles bought on its own is €7.10, so if you subtract that out it would mean that you'd be paying €15.20 for all your Paris transit travel for the rest of the week, which works out to a piddly €2.17/day. If you took even 1 round-trip every day this is cheaper than the effective price of €1.49/trip if you buy a carnet of 10 tickets.

The cost of the card is €5, but you only pay that once (and can keep the card for future visits to Paris). It is possible that if your Metro usage is indeed extremely limited, it might be cheaper to buy individual or a carnet of tickets, but €22.30 is only €3.19/day which seems to me an extraordinarily cheap cost for unlimited travel on the Paris transportation system. Plus, I think there's something psychologically freeing about not having to weigh whether a short bus or Metro ride is worth it (feet get tired!) and on a physical level I find managing a carnet of individual T+ tickets to be a pain.

Posted by
4784 posts

I definitely agree with Andrew, and would also recommend getting the Navigo Découverte
weekly pass.

You'll need a 3 cm by 2.5cm photo for each of you.

I scanned our passports and printed them (smaller than actual size) then cut out the photos.

Don't forget to book your Eiffel Tower tickets! Tickets sell out 2-3 months in advance.

Enjoy your time in PAris!

Posted by
613 posts

taxi from CDG is very expensive. check out shuttle services, many deliver you to the door of your hotel.

Posted by
16941 posts

Isn't that what a taxi does? Deliver you to your front door? The taxis from CDG are a set fee, 50 EUR to the Right Bank and 55 EUR to the Left Bank. Just make sure you use the official taxi rank.

And if you are going to get a Navigo Decouverte, then take the RER and Metro and it is "free".

Posted by
19 posts

This is all very helpful. It looks like Navigo is the way to go. Thanks for mentioning the photos.

Posted by
467 posts

I agree with Sam -- personally, I find those shuttles in Paris to be the worst of both worlds. They combine nearly the cost of a cab (the rate for two people will be at least €40, which is not much less than the official €50/€55 fixed cab rate) with the inconveniences of having to travel with other people and waiting for their dropoffs (if you don't mind doing that, might as well take public transit which will be cheaper and possibly even "free" with a Navigo card).

Posted by
6 posts

I live in NYC, so I'm familiar with the subway. If there weren't so many choices in Paris, it would be a lot easier!

Posted by
14 posts

Just got back from a week in Paris. The Navigo Decouverte worked very well for us.

The Navigo Decouverte runs Monday through Sunday, so you'll need a second one after the first Sunday. It's about 29€ and you need to put a 1-inch photo of yourself in it and sign it. The photo should be a small passport-style one. There are photomats at all train stations, Gare du Nord had a ton, and there were two at Charles de Gaul by the train ticket office, but one was broken while I was there, so the queue for photos was long.

Take your photo with your ID (passport) to the ticket office to get a Navigo Decouverte. The staff working the ticket office at CDG had scissors, which we used to cut out our photo (you will need to cut the photo out of the photomat sheet), and gave us the pass in three pieces, so you can sign it, insert the photo, and then assemble it. Make sure you put a photo in and sign it or the Metro Police will fine you 33€-100+€. (These police seem discourteous at best and seem to prey on holidaymakers who are unfamiliar with the Metro.)

The Navigo Decouverte should get you zones 1-6, which includes Verseilles and RER as well as metro and bus service. Consider bus service for less efficiently travelling across Paris while getting superior views to what the Metro offers.

To use a Navigo Decouverte, present it to the purple reading device at the turnstiles to the Metro or where you get on the bus. I had one minor issue getting through a turnstile with my Navigo Decouvert and went to the ticket counter where I asked and was told in French that I had taken too long to pass through the gate, but the agent reset things for me.

If you do get a Carnet, or tickets in general, sometimes individual tickets can be faulty. Also, keep the used ticket until you have completely left the Metro station before discarding it. Do not ever discard your used ticket inside the Metro. The Metro Police will fine you if they find you in the station without the used ticket (unused tickets don't help save you from the fine).

Also, make sure you do not buy children's tickets instead of adult tickets. I did not see many (or any) bilingual signs in the Metro, so ask an agent of the Metro for help if you aren't sure what to get.

And, finally, RER needs separate tickets than you use for the Metro if you don't get a Navigo Decouverte.

When using the Metro, be wary of pickpockets who seem to operate in small groups. I did not have any issues with these. There are announcements about these regularly. Also, there are homeless sleeping in the stations and pan handlers on the stations and in the trains. Also the trains get crowded and people do not move into the train to free up space by the doors.

All that said, the Metro worked very well for me and my family, was easy to use, and fast.

Finally, you have to manually open the doors on the Metro to get in or out using a handle, unless someone else does it. Buses have call buttons you press to notify the driver you want off at the next stop. I think the Metro stops running about 1am and buses at midnight-ish.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
2059 posts

The Navigo Decouverte should get you zones 1-6

Zone 6 was eliminated many years ago. There are now only 5 zones for the entire Ile de France.

The Navigo Découverte card (5€) loaded with a weekly zone 1-5 fare (22.80€) should give you an easy to use solution which will take you anywhere you may want to go on the bus, métro, tramway, funicular, RER, or Transilien train. You can load the fare for your second week anytime after Thursday.

Posted by
467 posts

sean_b, welcome! I'd also just make one minor clarification:

And, finally, RER needs separate tickets than you use for the Metro if
you don't get a Navigo Decouverte.

If you stay on the RER within zone 1, i.e. the RER within Paris, you can use the same t+ ticket on the RER as you do on the Métro. It's when you leave Paris/zone 1 that you have to buy a specific point-to-point ticket that will be more expensive than a t+ ticket.

Posted by
147 posts

There is also the navigo easy pass set to start in April. Hopefully it will be a good alternative. . Includesfewer zones but no need for a carnet. Would love to hear reviews When in use

Posted by
2059 posts

The Navigo Easy is nothing other than a 2€ card onto which tickets and certain day passes may be loaded. The card may contain up to 30 tickets T+ or one Navigo Jour fare or one Ticket jeune weekend. Only day fares, Navigo Jour or jeune weekend, are sold in reference to zones.

Existing fare structures are not changed.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks to all you you for taking time to help me!
Sean_b, your reply so so comprehensive, I'm going to print it out and take it with me. (It's the sort of instructions I would have written myself!)

Posted by
19 posts

Everyone has been so helpful, I'm going to ask for one more detail.
We will surely be getting the Navigo Devouverte. Can I just bring the needed photos with me or is it better to take them when I get the pass?
Thanks again!

Posted by
6728 posts

You don't need ID to get a Navigo Decouverte; they don't care who you are and the whole point of the thing for locals is that it is not registered, nor does it track your travel. You can print off pictures on your computer at home; 25/30 mm head shot just crop out of a snapshot and print or cut out of a printed snapshot. The clerk will often not assemble the card for you if there is a line which there is likely to be at CDG; if you get it at a metro station in Paris it is more likely the clerk will assemble it. You can buy it on a machine and take the receipt to the window where they give you/or assemble the kit and then return to the machine to charge it up with a weeks pass. US chip/sig credit cards will work in these machines for a weekly pass (the monthly pass exceeds the amount you can buy without a chip/pin card. When it asks for the PIN just ignore and proceed.

Not only CAN you bring your own photo, you should. Not all stations have machines and when they do it costs 5 Euro for pictures you can easily print off at home and bring for free.

Posted by
63 posts

Dear France: invest in a few digital cameras. My grandaughter's high school I.D. card took 20 seconds to be produced.

Posted by
145 posts

A tip - I copied our passport photos at home at 65% of actual size on my copier and used regular paper. I cut the photos out at home and put them in a little envelope. It made the process buying the Navigo passes easier. Navigo is the way to go! So easy and encourages us to just jump on the metro to zip around.

Posted by
14 posts

I'll second the motion that it's easier to bring the 1x1-inch photo with you. We didn't, but using the Fotomat was easy enough, although 5€ as noted. Also, before our flight out of BOS, we weren't 100% sure we would get the Navigo Decouverte at CDG, with our luggage taking a taxi was a plan B. But, when we arrived, we just went with the train card right away and it worked great. I was unsure if they needed IDs to issue the Navigo Decouverte, since it is not limited to residents, but I brought the passports anyway. Since you sign the card and put your own picture in the card, I don't see how an ID would be needed. Sean

Posted by
41 posts

I will be in Paris for 2 weeks starting and ending on a Monday so the Navigo Weekly Pass sounds like it was made for me. I just want to verify that I understand janettravels44's description of how to buy the initial Pass. I use the machines to buy (5Euros) a "blank" Navigo card, go to the Ticket desk, show receipt and photo, they will give me the kit to assemble it, then I take the card back to the machine to actually load the current week on it? I can not just do it all at the Ticket Desk or is the back and forth process only when there is a long line? Also, when I need the 2nd week, I can just load it on the same card at a machine? Do I have to wait until the previous week fully expires on Sunday before I can load the next week?
Thanks, Fran

Posted by
5697 posts

And when we arrived at CDG this week, last year's Navigo cards in hand, the line to have the ticket agent top them up for a week's usage was about the same as the line for the ticket machines to do it ourselves, so we let the man in the booth do it.

Posted by
2059 posts

There are some 4 to 5 groups of ticket machines at CDG and 1 large bank at Roissypôle.

Don't wait in line at the first ticket bank you see.