if you have a trip to Paris planned and (the reason for the * in the title):
- are arriving into Charles de Gaulle airport (you don’t have to, but this really makes the pass worth it)
- spending less than a week there
- arriving Monday-Thursday
- departing on Sunday or before
this is for you!
i learned, thanks to the great site Paris By Train, about the newly-zoneless Navigo Découverte and it was perfect for my trip last week. it’s been a while since i’ve used a weekly Paris transit pass, but the last time i did it was ages ago with the previous version of the Navigo, the Carte Orange, but i digress. the Navigo Découverte gives you unlimited transit in the Paris region for a week (there’s also a month option, but i figure most people aren’t going for that long, though wouldn’t it be lovely?), but (and these are very important buts):
- the pass is only good for one week that begins on Monday and ends on Sunday (you can use the pass on that Sunday)
- is available for purchase up until Thursday night (purchases Friday through Sunday are for passes for the following week)
- you will need a passport photo (or smaller, actually, though they can cut it at the station, where you can also get a picture taken at a photo booth)
the best part is that since September, it’s good for all zones (1-5, including Disneyland, Versailles, and CDG airport) for the same low price of €21.25 + €5 for the pass itself. more details on purchasing the pass can be found at Paris By Train (or if you read French, at the source here), but suffice it to say, it’s good for all modes of transit (bus, metro, RER) within the Paris metro area except Orlyval (take the bus) and the TGV, and some touristy buses and such.
the pass is made up of two pieces (plus a holder you get for free): the contactless card itself (tap it on the purple area on top of turnstiles, no need to take it out of the holder) and a laminated paper slip that has your name and photo on it. when you put the pass into the plastic holder, make sure the number printed on the back of the card shows through the hole in the paper slip — the numbers on the card and on the slip should match up — it’s their way of ensuring you (the person whose photo is on the slip) own the card.
buying a pass
you should be able to buy this at any transit ticket window, but i bought mine at the CDG T2 train station. once you go downstairs to where the ticket machines are, look to the side (in my case, it was the right) where there’s a ticket room with agents. wait in line there and just ask for a Navigo Découverte card for the week. give them your photo and a credit card (or cash) and voilà. easy-peasy. (and no need to bust out my horrible college-level French either.) they should set up the card for you (trim/attach the photo, package it all up into the holder, etc.) — all you need to do is write your name on the pass.
why it was such a good deal (at least for me)
remember, the pass is a total of €26.25.
it’s €10 each way between CDG and the city center on the RER — so round trip, that’s €20. i had to pick up a friend at the airport two days after i arrived, so that’s another €20. add on unlimited transit for the days i was there, and i probably spent about half of what i normally would have without the pass. if you’re going to Disneyland or Versailles or anywhere else in the outer zones, your savings will add up as well. even if you don’t go anywhere but to the city from the airport and back, you’ll likely make up the cost of the pass with the unlimited transit in the city itself, and you won’t have to deal with having to get (or lose) those small paper tickets.
again, you just need to be sure you’re going to do all your travel within a week before the end of the Sunday.
btw, if that photo looks familiar, it’s from when i needed to get a(nother) SIM card in Nepal earlier this year, where they require a passport photo, so i got it taken at a random camera store in Kathmandu: