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Planning a Trip to Paris - Choosing Cheapest Tickets to Get Around

Updated on October 13, 2014
You don't see a lot of French flags in Paris but once they put them up, it's seemingly never less than 15 a time
You don't see a lot of French flags in Paris but once they put them up, it's seemingly never less than 15 a time

Paris Transport Fares - 2014

Paris is a diverse city attracting many very different people who all travel to Paris for business or leisure, for short city breaks or longer stays. For that purpose the City proposes also different transport plans, all of which are adapted to different guests. Be it desire to visit the Moulin Rouge, Paris' Museum of Modern Art or the Tour Eiffel tower, a business trip, visiting family or friends, you'll have to get around the city.

In this article you will first find a quick overview of the general pricing for the year 2014 and then I will cover how you can benefit from each plan.

Ticket type
Just the City (Zones 1-2 in most, 1-3 in some cases)
City + Airports, Disneyland, Versailles
Single ride Ticket t+
N/A, except for airport access on selected buses
Book of 10 Ticket t+
Mobilis unlimited 1 day pass
16.10€ (Access to CDG only on buses 350 and 351)
Paris Visite 1 day
Paris Visite 5 days
Navigo Semaine weekly pass valid from Monday to Sunday
Navigo Mois month pass

Reminder: never buy tickets from vendors on the street, they are very aggressive with their sales tactic and it is quite easy to give in, they are even known to come harass people already in front of ticket machines. In case of control you will defin

Be sure to check if everything you are interested in will be covered by the Navigo zones you will be buying. The airports and Disneyland are in 5th zone, everything else will probably be covered by zones 1-2
Be sure to check if everything you are interested in will be covered by the Navigo zones you will be buying. The airports and Disneyland are in 5th zone, everything else will probably be covered by zones 1-2

Plain Tickets

A single ride ticket costs 1.70€, but you can also buy a book of 10 tickets at reduced price of 13.70€. Children under 4 years old ride for free and for children under 10 years old can buy the reduced fare tickets at 6.85€ the book or 0.85€ a single ticket.

These are called Ticket t+, which allow you to ride any buses, métros, RER trains and even take connections during a time limit of 1,5 hours. The t+ plan is best for short visits, up to three days in my opinion. It's usually the cheapest option if you can limit your travelling to the ten rides you can get buying the book. But already on top of that most people have to buy the ride to the airport and back at 9.70€ each direction. That can easily make your short trip cost 35€ in transport or more. Tickets can easily be lost and Paris transports are very often controlled and having no ticket means a fine of 50€ in buses and up to 90€ on train services. You can even be fined for having a valid transport pass or ticket but having forgot validating it during a connection.

All tickets bought on buses cost a flat 2€ and unlike Ticket t+ only allow you to ride on the bus you bought it from, no connections included.

People under 26 years old can buy a day ticket allowing unlimited rides on a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday for 3.75€ a day for immediate city limits, there's also a ticket covering all the zones at 8.10€, but as it doesn't let you go to the airports, I find it less useful. This ticket can be great combined with a weekly Navigo Pass in case you arrive a day or two before your pass becomes valid.

Parisian metro stations are gorgeous, usually with uniform design but there are many stations with customized interiors
Parisian metro stations are gorgeous, usually with uniform design but there are many stations with customized interiors

Navigo Passes

Navigo Passes can be bought in different lengths but I think most visitors would be needing the weekly Navigo Semaine pass which you can buy starting Friday for the coming week or until Wednesday for the week in course.

For people who arrive in Paris before Wednesday and leave in the same week I always advise the Navigo weekly pass covering all zones. It's a great offer at 34.40€ +5€ for the pass itself, which is not more expensive than buying tickets separately, but can often be cheaper as book of 10 tickets could easily not be enough or even get lost. On the other hand, the weekly pass lasts the whole week, so even in case of freak incidents like late flight being canceled, you can still get back to the city hassle free.

Also, because Navigo Passes are contactless smart cards, validating them is easier and faster than looking for unused tickets in your pockets and then trying to get them validated by the gate machines.

The only thing to keep in mind is that Navigo Semaine passes cost 5€ on top of the transport fee for the card itself. Also, all Navigos are strictly for personal use therefore keep a passport photo of yourself in your wallet when buying the pass. Tip: you can also use a cutout of the photo of a photocopy of any ID dociment. The photo used for Navigo doesn't have any real requirements, it just has to be enough for identification during controls.

Paris Visit

Easily the most notorious pass. In every single guide I've read people are discouraged from buying these saying that they charge more for nothing and how this is example of the French trying to scam tourists. Well, I would say that for many visitors there are better passes available. But I can imagine at least one visitor's profile who will enjoy the Paris Visite tickets the most.

If you are:

  • Orderly and don't risk losing the ticket (I disqualify at this point :-)
  • Short stay in Paris, or staying over the weekend - Arriving Saturday and leaving Tuesday means two Navigo pass valid only two days, but Paris Visit can have you covered for the whole stay.
  • Eager to pack as many tourist sights to your trip as possible.

Paris Visite will also get you many discounts on different tourist sights as entries to museums or even Arc de Triomphe and Tour Montparnasse tower viewing platforms. And perhaps the most interesting perk that can easily be turned in your favour (if you plan to do some shopping in Paris anyway) is the -10% discount at Galeries Lafayette stores for all the holders of foreign passports and Paris Visite passes.

Galeries Lafayette view under the cupola.
Galeries Lafayette view under the cupola.

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