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Last Update: June 2020
I noticed LOADS of people asking the same questions on Reddit and TripAdvisor .. again and again. How much is a ticket for Paris Metro? Where can I buy a Navigo Decouverte? What’s the best way to get around?
Being a traveler myself, I know how silly I feel when I don’t know how public transportation works in a foreign country. Believe me, I took a taxi or walked way more often than I dare to admit… just because I couldn’t figure it out.
But I got you! I will help you out and share everything you need to know to rock Paris Public Transportation services as you do. However, the following is NOT a complete guide covering every aspect of every mode of transportation. It’s rather equipping you with enough know-how to get around Paris without issues.
Let’s start with the basics.
Tickets and fares for Paris’ Public Transportation in Paris
Where can I purchase tickets for the Paris Metro?
The single fare tickets are called ticket t+. Ticket Machines are available at every train, tram, and metro station. The ticket machines are multilingual. Most train and metro stations are also having a RATP info point, in case you require help.
What does RATP stand for? Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transportation. RATP is your point of contact and the operator of every sort of public transportation within the Paris region.
Single fare tickets are also available for purchase on public buses. However, they cost a bit more when purchased from the bus driver and they often can’t return change.
How much costs a Metro ticket for the Paris Metro?
A single fare ticket t+ for Paris costs 1,90€ and is valid for Metros, RER, and transilien trains, Trams, and Busses within zone 1 and 2. Zones 1 and 2 are comprising Paris and all adjacent suburbs. The ticket t+ is also valid for the Funiculare de Montmartre.
If you get your tickets at the ticket machine, you can also choose to get a carnet. That’s a bundle of 10 tickets that are 25% cheaper than a single far ticket. Hence, 10 tickets cost 14.90. (at the time of writing, September 2019)
Kids under 4 are traveling for free on Paris public transportation. Kids of the age of 4 to 10 are eligible to travel at a reduced fare of 50%. You can buy the reduced ticket also as a single ride or in a bundle at the ticket machines.
Note: It can happen that your ticket demagnetizes. You can exchange those tickets easily at the RATP info points
How long is a t+ ticket valid?
One ticket t+ is valid for 2h on the Metro and train network within zone 1 and 2, and 90 minutes when using busses and trams.
Generally, transfers between Metro and RER trains as well as transfers from bus to tram are possible. You can’t transfer though with the same single fare ticket from Metro/RER to bus/tram.
Metro and train
One single fare ticket is valid for 1 one-way-trip of maximal 2h. You can transfer between Metro and RER/transilien trains as often you like. As soon as you leave the Metro or train station, your ticket loses validity.
Bus and tram
One ticket t+ is valid for 90minutes while using busses and trams. You can transfer between both services but you need to revalidate your ticket when boarding a new vehicle. If you purchase your ticket on the bus, you can’t make a transfer. The tickets sold onboard are only for one bus trip without transfer.
update 2021 – you can buy your bus ticket by SMS now. Simply send a SMS with the text BUS+Number to 93100, and you receive a ticket by SMS. It costs 2€ and counts only for the bus trip, not for transfers. If you are in Bus 26 for example, send BUS26 to the number 93100 and you’ll receive your ticket on your phone.
Note: Be sure you keep your ticket during your journey, you might get controlled and you also might need it for transfers and exit. Trashing the ticket is actually a very common mistake Paris travelers are making. I wrote a post about the most common Paris mistakes, don’t miss it!
Isn’t there a tourist pass for public transportation?
Yes, absolutely. Actually, there are several passes available and you have to choose carefully what is most beneficial for you.
Before you go on and dig through the different ticket options, take a moment to think about what do you want to visit in Paris (click here for inspiration) and check if the Paris City Pass could help you save some bucks. (spoiler: it would!)
What’s the Paris City Pass ?
It’s a very convenient all-inclusive Paris visitor pass that makes visiting Paris super easy. It grants free and fast access to most of Paris sights and attractions, includes walking tours, guided visits, and free public transportation.
- skip the line entrance to the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Centré Pompidou
- free admission to the Castle of Versailles, Sainte Chapelle, the Conciergerie, and many more
- free walking tours such as through Montmartre, the Stade de France, Street Art walking tours, etc.
- A wine tasting at the Caves du Louvre
- a panoramic river cruise on the Seine (read our review here)
- free public transportation
Paris day travel passes
All-day passes are valid on all public transportation networks (except Orlyval train to Orly airport) from midnight to midnight. The tickets and can be purchased at the ticket machines in all Metro and train stations.
Paris Visite Travel Pass – this pass is valid from 1 up to 5 consecutive days and starts at 12€ for one day, Paris only and ends at 65,80€ for 5 days, all zones (incl. Disneyland, Versailles, the Orlyval train and the airports.) The pass comes also with a few benefits, for example, a 10% discount at the Galeries Lafayette or 25% at the Arc de Triomphe.
Mobilis – a 1-day travel card with unlimited rides within the zone you chose. The Mobilis card costs 7,50€ for 2 Zones (enough for Paris) and 17,80€ for all zones, airports, Disneyland, and Versailles included.
My advice: I don’t really see any benefit in purchasing the Paris Visite Pass if you don’t arrive at Orly airport and require to take the Orlyval train. Or, unless you plan to spend a lot of money at the Galeries Lafayette. If you are only one day in Paris and plan to heavily use the Paris Metro, it might be worth getting the Mobilis pass. If you are traveling in a group of 2, you are probably better off with a Carnet of 10 ticket t+.
Paris week pass
Navigo Decouverte – the 1-week pass from Navigo costs 22.80€ for all 5 zones, incl. Disney, Versailles, and the airports.. It covers all networks of public transportation. The Navigo card itself costs 5€ and you need to provide a passport photograph.
However, this pass has a catch. It is valid from Monday morning until Sunday night, if you are visiting Paris from Friday to Tuesday, the Navigo Decouverte would not cover your entire travel time.
How to use public transportation in Paris
Once you got your ticket from the vending machines or the RATP info point, don’t forget to validate them when entering the station, a bus, or the tram.
How to validate your ticket
For the Metro and the RER it’s basically impossible NOT to validate your ticket, as you need to validate it to be able to go through the turnstiles. If you are using a ticket that has a paper coupon-like format, you need to pass it through the slot on the right of the turnstile.
If you are the owner of a Navigo Decoverte, simply place your card over the purple to activate the turnstiles.
The same applies to buses and trams. There are no turnstiles, but you still need to validate your ticket. Validate your Navigo Decouverter at the validation point or validate your paper ticket by stamping at the validator inside the bus or tram.
With 303 stations, 214 km tracks, and 16 lines, the Paris Metro is probably the fastest and most convenient way to get around. The Metro runs in Paris and adjacent suburbs and the average distance between stations is 548m. Just know that Paris is NOT really a barrier-free city. It is doable to use the Metro with a stroller (other passengers are usually happy to help), but you better check this page for more information if you are of reduced mobility.
The first Metro departs its terminus at 5:30 am and the last comes back at 1:15 am, 2:15 am on weekends. At the moment RATP is testing if it’s beneficial to provide a 24h Metro service on weekends, so once a month, certain Metro lines are operating as well Saturday nights. The test runs until March 2020, you can see which lines are affected here.
RER (Suburb train)
The RER is much like Paris Metro, but a little faster and with fewer stations. However, the RER is basically a suburb train that connects Paris with surrounding cities. If you want to visit Versailles for example, you would take the RER C, Disney is served by RER A.
If you are not using the Navigo Decouverte for all zones or a 5 zones day pass, make sure to purchase a ticket with the appropriate amount of zones. Paris and it’s surrounding is divided into 5 zones. You need to purchase a ticket for all zones that you cross on your way. But don’t worry too much about it, if you are at a ticket machine, you can simply click on “Ticket Île-de-France” (Billets Île-de-France) and pick your destination. You will obtain a station to station ticket that covers automatically the appropriate amount of zones.
Paris by Bus
Busses are running basically everywhere: inside Paris, outside Paris, from Paris to suburb and from suburb to suburb. The tickets are the same as for Metro, the Ticket t+. You can transfer with the same ticket from bus to bus or to tram, but not to Metro or RER, which would require a new ticket.
If you are not depending on getting around by bus (Busses are barrier-free), I’d recommend avoiding them during a short-term stay. Schedules and maps are rather complicated and due to the Parisian traffic, they can be really sloooow.
Noctilien night busses
To fill the gap between the last and first Metro/Tram/RER, night buses are operating in Paris and connecting the city with the greater Paris area. Noctilien busses are clearly the cheapest way to get home after a long night as you can board them with the usual ticket t+. Just keep in mind that your fellow passengers also had a long night out and might be everything but sober.
The Tramway is relatively new in Paris and is build roughly as a circle around Paris, more or less parallel to the freeway. In order to board the tram, you need a ticket t+. With one validated ticket, you can transfer from tram to tram or from the tram to bus, but you need a new ticket to transfer to Metro or RER.
Orlyval – only included in the Paris Visite Pass
The Orlyval is the sky train that operates between the Orly Airport and the next RER Station Anthony. The one-way ticket costs 9.30€, if you purchase the Orlyval in combination with an RER ticket to Paris, it’s 12.05€.
If you’re not a holder of the Paris Visite Pass and you’re traveling in a group, it might be cheaper to take an Uber from Anthony to Orly for about 10-15€)
Are you landing at Paris Charles de Gaulle/Roissy (CDG)? Don’t miss our detailed guide on how to get to Paris from the airport!
Safety in Paris’ Public Transportation
I read very often that people are worried about their safety when traveling to Paris. One of the main concerns is often to get scammed or robbed. I can’t deny that there is of cause a risk. Paris is a metropole after all. But did you know that Paris ranks just behind London and Malmö, Sweden in the international safety ranking?
I’d say the Paris Metro is safe. Every Parisian takes the metro at all times, often you’ll find the Metro fuller at midnight than at 3 pm and the passengers are not any dodgy weirdos but absolutely random folks.
There are still some things you should keep in mind:
- take care of your stuff and be conscious about your belongings while traveling on the Parisian Metro. Don’t have your bag just above your shoulder, but hold the string. You don’t need to hold your bag like a maniac but show that you’re wary
- try to avoid using your phone. It can happen that someone grabs it and runs just in the very moment the doors are closing.
- if there is a safety announcement about pickpockets, DO NOT check if your wallet is still where it should be. Someone might check for exactly this reflex and you happily tell the thief where he has to look for your treasures
- don’t get distracted and forget about your belongings. I got my wallet stolen once; while I was trying to push a stroller with one hand while trying to hold a gate with the other.
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