How to Buy Paris Metro Tickets from Automated Machines: Paris Travel Tip #5

You can avoid lines at the Paris Metro stops by taking advantage of the automated ticket machines (If you’ve followed Tip #1). Use your credit card (with its four-digit pin number to buy a ‘carnet’ of tickets – or a set of Ten tickets which can be used at any time (there’s no date limits on these tickets) for either the Metro or buses.

Although the Metro ticket machines may look intimidating at first, use the rollers in the middle with the aid of the Validate key on the Right hand side to switch to an English menu.


From there, just keeping turning the roller to scroll down to the choice of a ‘carnet’ or ‘set of ten’ tickets. For most tourist sites, you’ll be staying within Zones 1 -2. Most of these machines only accept credit cards,but some have been installed that do accept paper money and coins.

Do not confuse the ticket machines with ‘Navigo’ recharging machines which you’ll also find nearby. The ‘Navigo’ card is relatively new. It will gradually phase out the Carte Orange which is a monthly or weekly pass. Navigo cards have an electronic ‘puce’ which allows cardholders to use designated turnstiles. If you take one of these turnstiles by mistake, you won’t be able to get through, so don’t panic, just take one of the turnstiles designated for normal Metro tickets.

>> Get more Paris travel tips from a local before you go!

2 thoughts on “How to Buy Paris Metro Tickets from Automated Machines: Paris Travel Tip #5

  • Bucky Edgett

    Not bad. To be more specific…

    The NaviGo recharging machines are purple. Yep, built of purple plastic. So, for buying Metro tickets, look for silver machines, not purple.

    The ticket machines seem to be some kind of lottery. Some machines accept coins only; some accept paper Euros; some may take credit cards. Some take odd random combinations of the different types of currency. We didn’t try to make a scientific survey of the possibilities. But to the best of my remembery, on our latest trip –2009-04– all machines encountered took **either** coins or bills. A few took both. I don’t think we ever encountered a machine that took **only** credit cards. Maybe we just got lucky.

    If there are machines that take only credit cards, American tourists might be out of luck. Many European credit card machines now work only on “pouce” cards. These cards do not have a dark brown magnetic strip on the back. Instead, they have a gold-colored computer chip on the front. (The chip is about the size of a thumbnail. “pouce” maens thumb in French, and by extension, “puce” in the vernacular, means “flea, chip or microchip.” You can’t tell by looking which kind of card a machine will accept. But the difference is obvious if you try to use the machine. A swipe-the-strip Zipper machine will accept your card all the way in. A pouce/puce machine will only allow you to push your card in about a third of the way. That’s just enough to get the gold puce/pouce chip into the machine, allowing it to be read.

    So if the Metro ticket machine looks like it will take a credit catrd, but your card will only push in a third or a half of the card’s length, you’re out of luck. It won’t read your card.

    Just be prepared: have some small bills, **and** some coins.

  • Mary Gould

    In addition to the credit card dilema above (my card would not work in any of the machines I tried) there is also an option to select which language you would like the machine to display. If you click on the little British flag displayed on the upper right of the machine window you can get all of the prompts in english.

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