“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 leisurely being in one of the most romantic cities in the world.
However, Paris 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 - if you don’t stop for croissants and a cafe.
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 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.
For years, I have been recommending purchasing the Navigo Découverte Pass at the Charles de Gaulle airport instead of buying single-use tickets as it’s cost-effective and a time-saver so you don’t have to stand in line to buy more tickets.
However, Paris authorities just launched a new version of the Navigo Pass, called Navigo Easy in June, 2019.
There’s a few things that you must know before you go to Paris and pick up a Navigo Pass yourself.
Updated June 17, 2019
introducing The new Navigo Easy Pass
June 12, 2019 Paris launched it’s new Navigo Easy pass which will replace single-use paper tickets (although for years I’ve been recommending not buying single-use tickets but rather the Navigo Découverte Pass)!
The Navigo Easy card will signal the end of the sale of 550 million single-trip paper tickets every year!
the difference between navigo Découverte and navigo easy (new!)
The Navigo Découverte Pass was the original pass, available for a week or month allowing for unlimited rides. It wasn’t particularly aimed at tourists but it still worked wonders, was my preferred choice of transport pass, and was what I recommended if you were in Paris for more than a couple days.
If you’re in Paris for at least a few days, I recommend getting either Navigo Découverte Pass or the Navigo Easy for their convenience, ease of use, time saved, and the immense joy of feeling like a local.
The difference between Navigo Découverte Pass and Navigo Easy Pass at a glance.
first, an intro to Paris’ Public Transportation system
The city of Paris is made of up 5 zones. The center of Paris is comprised of zones 1-3, where the outer zones (4 and 5) are more suburban.
The 20 neighborhoods (or arrondissements) of Paris are all inside zones 1-3.
Mostly everything that you will need to see and do will be in the first three zones, however importantly, the Palace of Versailles, Disneyland Paris and Charles de Gaulle airport are in zones 4 and 5.
Paris has 16 metro lines labeled 1 to 14 with two secondary lines (3b and 7b), 5 RERs, and many buses and night buses.
The Metro is a rapid transit system in the Paris Metropolitan Area and serve the first 3 zones of Paris’s 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.
The metro runs from approximately 5:30am to 12:40am Sunday to Thursday, and until 1:40am Friday, Saturday and days before a holiday.
Where you can use the navigo pass
You can use the Navigo Découverte Pass on any metro, RER, and public bus.
*Navigo Découverte Pass 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 does work 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.
Navigo Easy initially works just on the metro only but will gradually include more of the Paris public transportation system.
when is the pass valid
The Navigo Découverte Pass is Valid Monday to Sunday, it is NOT valid for the 7 days after you buy it.
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.
Once you buy the tickets, they do not expire. This is very handy if you’re going to Paris twice in one trip, if you arrive mid-week, or if you will be back another year. So keep your card to re-charge at a later date or pass on to a friend going to Paris so they don’t need to buy a new plastic card.
costs of the pass
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.
The reusable, rechargeable card will cost €2. Ticket fares will remain the same; €1.90 for a single-trip ticket and €14.90 for ten trips.
do i need a photo?
You MUST have a picture of yourself on your Navigo Découverte pass, 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?
No photo required.
how to buy the navigo pass
Once arriving in Charles de Gualle, I recommend buying the pass right away to save yourself 10€. You can buy the Navigo pass at any window that sells RATP stations or SNCF stations tickets, just look for these logos.
*Side Note: The RATP is the system of public transport in and around Paris, while the SNCF serves France and abroad.
You can buy the Navigo Easy pass at any metro station.
The thing I love most about the Navigo pass 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 you belong!
Want to explore Paris like a local? Book a one-on-one travel consultation call to get all of your specific questions answered for your trip to Paris.