What You Need to Know to Get Around Paris with the Navigo Pass

Notre Dame Paris | How to Get Around Paris France with the Navigo Pass

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”  ― Ernest Hemingway

I think you would agree that there is deep, sultry love for Paris for anyone who has visited this city.

Paris is one of those cities you can walk around endlessly in discovering something new, never feeling like your repeating the same steps, and enjoying the simplicity of enjoying every moment.

It’s an exquisite city to get lost in. The quintessential architecture, the people buzzing about, the feeling of being in one of the most romantic cities in the world.

Hotel de Ville | How to Get Around Paris France with the Navigo Pass

However, it is also an absolutely massive city, to get from the Eiffel Tower to the Moulin Rouge, for example, will take an hour and a half to walk. While you should undoubtedly wander around the city on foot, you will at many points during your stay in Paris want to take the metro.

If you’re in Paris for about a week, I highly recommend getting the Navigo Découverte Pass for it's convenience, ease of use, and the immense joy of feeling like a local.


What is the Nagivo Pass?

The Nagivo Pass is Paris’ public transportation pass, valid on all modes of public transportation except Oryval train (see below).

It's incredibly easy to use and it will save you immeasurable amount of time getting around so you can spend more of your valuable time in museums, park picnics, and cafes.

The Navigo Pass is the one transit ticket I recommend you get for your time in Paris.


*Note: The Navigo Découverte Pass was not created for tourists like the Paris Visite pass, their website is only in French but you can see it here

There’s a few things that you must know before you go to Paris and pick up a Navigo Pass yourself.


1. You can use the Navigo Pass on any metro, RER, and public bus.

Paris has 16 metro lines labeled 1 to 14 with two secondary lines (3b and 7b) and 5 RERs.

The Metro is a rapid transit system in the Paris Metropolitan Area and serve the first 3 zones of the Paris Ile de France (the city center). The metro is a classic subway system: mostly underground, many stops, frequent service, short line distances, serving the urban city centre, non-scheduled train timings.

The RER is a hybrid suburban commuter/rapid transit system serving Paris and it's suburbs. It's similar to the metro but it covers more area and it's stops are less frequent.

Mostly everything that you will need to see and do will be in the first 3 zones, however importantly, the Palace of Versailles, Disneyland Paris and Charles de Gaulle airport are in zones 4 and 5. 

The metro runs from approximately 5:30am to 12:40am Sunday to Thursday, and until 1:40am Friday, Saturday and days before a holiday.


2. Pass is Valid Monday to Sunday

A weeks pass is NOT valid for the 7 days after you buy it, instead it's valid from Monday to Sunday. 

On Thursday at 11:59pm they stop selling the pass for that week and begin to sell the following week's pass. Therefore it’s best to arrive in Paris on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday if you plan on being here a week and getting the Navigo pass.


3. The Card Costs only 5€

To get started, the card costs only 5€ plus the cost of adding on a week or months fares. It's 23€ for a week bringing the grand total to 28€ for your first week. 

A single ticket from Charles de Gaulle airport to the city center is 10€.

A single day pass for the zones 1-3 is roughly 8€.

So you can see how quickly you'd reach 28€ in transportation fees, making the Navigo Pass very economical.


4. You MUST have a picture of yourself on it

If you do not have a photo of yourself on the card, it results in a 35€ fine. Don't make the same mistake I did - this happened to me!

You can get your picture at one of the larger metro stations i.e. Gare du Nore, Republique, etc. They look like photo booths. Or bring a passport photo from home, I mean what do you do with your extra passport photos?


5. It does NOT work Orlyval Train

If you take Orlyval train to Orly airport, you must buy a special ticket to/from Orly for roughly 10€. However, the Navigo pass works on the Orlyval bus.

If you arrive in Orly and get the Navigo pass, make sure to ask attendants where the Orlyval bus is and if you're flying out of Orly then ask your hotel where to go to take the Orlyval bus. 

It also does not work on tourists buses like OpenTour or the Bus Direct Paris-Airport.


6. You can buy the Navigo pass at any window that sells RATP stations or SNCF stations tickets.

paris transportation sncf.png

Just look for the logos above.

The RATP is the system of public transport in and around Paris, while the SNCF serves France and abroad. It is recommended that you buy at the airport upon arrival so that you can use the ticket to get into the center of Paris.

The thing I love most about the Paris Navigo is the feeling of being a local (pending you memorize which lines and stops you’ll need).

You don’t need to buy individual tickets every time you step into a metro station, just pull out your card, scan, and walk through with the likes of the locals.

The Navigo Pass pays for itself in savings, convenience, and feeling like a local!

Next: Where to Stay in Paris, the 20 Neighborhoods Explained


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