Using public transport makes good sense – especially in Paris. Recently BootsnAll travel experts Roger & Jessica came up with 11 tips for stretching a weak dollar in Europe. Guess what? Taking advantage of public transport was on the list.
Still, at 1.50 Euro per ride on the famous Paris Metro, you may prefer to walk if the weather permits. Here are a few tips to take the best advantage of the RATP’s many faceted ticket rates and ‘tourist passes.’
Paris Visite vs. ‘Un Carnet’
Paris Visite (including zone 5) 18 Euros for Adults, 9 Euros for Children 1 Day
27.50 Euros for Adults, 2 Days, 47.00 Euros Adults 5 Days.
RER B Airport Transfer 8.20 Euros (or 8.60 Roissybus) Plus 10 Metro tickets at 11.10. Total: 16.40 plus 11.10 or 17.20 plus 11.10, Max. 28.10 Euros using the Airport ticket plus your ‘carnet.’
You can see how the Paris Visite card only offers a good discount if you plan to stay one day and include your round-trip transport from the airport, or if you really plan to spend a LOT of time in the Metro.
If you’re only planning on being in Paris for one to two days, the Paris Visite Pass is worthwhile, but I tried to calculate the benefits between buying the 8.20 Euro RER B fare from CDG to Paris plus a ‘carnet’ ie. 10 Metro tickets for 11.10 Euros as opposed to buying a Paris Visite card for one, two, three or five days. My gut feeling is – that unless you plan on being on the Metro for most of your stay in Paris, you’ll want to stick with the ‘carnet’ option. Consider the Paris Visite Pass if you intend on visiting various districts – and you prefer not to do any extra walking. (If this is the case, be sure to opt for buses rather than Metro whenever you can, because of the steps throughout the Metro. Trust me, if you take the Metro every day, you’ll get a good workout. The Paris Visite Pass also provides some discounts on boat tours and certain museums and restaurants, but I found the list to be rather limited (and some of the museums listed now offer free admission anyhow).
Keep in mind that whether you buy the Paris Visite card or a carnet of tickets, both the card and the tickets will work for admission on both the Metro, buses, and trams in the designated Zones. (The city of Paris is pretty much covered in Zones 1 & 2, so unless you’re going to Versailles or coming in from the airport, you won’t be going outside of these first two zones for sightseeing.)
Including Airport Transport – Include Zone 5
The important thing to remember about the CDG airport is its location in Zone 5 of the RATP Metro system – which means that you must ask for a Paris Visite card which includes Zone 5 to use the RER B line.
Just to confuse the issue, RATP offers other card options aside from the Paris Visite Pass.
Day Passes, Weekly Passes and Monthly Passes (other than Paris Visite)
Mobilis is a one-day travel card you can use for both buses and Metro. However, remember that the Mobilis card does not work for the airport connection (even if you include Zone 5).
If you arrive at the beginning of the week (Monday and plan on staying for the entire week), consider purchasing a Carte Orange Hebdomadaire. This ticket will allow you access to the Metro, buses and trams for the entire week for one price. Be sure to have a passport size photo handy when you buy your Carte Orange Hebdomadaire which you can buy at most Metro stations.
You can also buy a Carte Orange which is good for the entire month. You must buy it at the beginning of the month to get its full value. You will need a passport size photo.
The Ticket-Jeune is a discount for those under Age 26. It can be used only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The card is good for one day of unlimited use.
You’ll also note some Metro users have Navigo card which they flash in front of a screen for access rather than using the usual Metro tickets. The Navigo card is similar to the monthly Carte Orange but you buy a monthly or annual subscription. Consider this card only if you plan to be in Paris for an extended visit. The monthly fee can be debited directly from your bank account.
Other Useful Tickets to be found at certain Metro stops
The Louvre Ticket. (Currently 9.70 Euros) Allows you direct access to the museum without waiting in line. You should (in theory)be able to buy this ticket at the Palais Royal, Tuilleries, Champs Elysees, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Trocadero, Charles de Gaulle Etoile Metro stops.
Passport Disneyland Resort. (Currently 49 Euros for adults, 41 Euros for children 3-11) Allows you all day access to Disneyland. You need to buy your transportation ticket to Disneyland separately.
Opentour. (Currently 29 Euros for adults – 1 Day, 15 Euros for children 3-11) Hop on, hop off red tour bus. This option is fine, but if you’re in Paris between April and September, why not take the Balabus (also known as Bus #7 which passes most of Paris’s most famous landmarks for the cost of one Metro/Bus ticket?). The major difference here is that you must pay every time you hop back on the Balabus.
A carnet of tickets doesn’t have an expiration date. You can keep this tickets for several, days, weeks or months.
Introduce the ticket into the turnstyle to be scanned. Take the ticket out of the top of the turnstyle, the light turns green and you can pass through the turnstyle.
If the light turns red, your ticket has already been used.
Hold on to your ticket for the duration of your journey. If you are requested to show your ticket by security (usually just before exiting the Metro, you must present your ticket or expect to pay a fine.
A Metro ticket is good for getting into the Metro and taking any number of transfers within the Paris city limits. It is also good for transferring to the RER lines (if you remain within city limits). Just run your original ticket through the RER train turnstyle. (i.e. RER Denfert to RER Cite Universitaire).
A Metro ticket cannot be used to transfer from a Metro to a bus. However, a Metro ticket can be used to transfer in some cases between a crosstown bus to an uptown bus, or from a bus to a tram.
You can buy a ticket directly from the bus driver but only for one ride. You can buy Metro/bus tickets at either the Metro station or the bus terminal. The tickets are identical.
If you stay within the city limits of Paris, Zone 1 and Zone 2 should cover your needs.
If you have difficulty getting through the turnstyle with luggage, be sure to ask the ticket sales clerk to help (they can open one of the exit doors for you if you have encumbrances such as luggage or a baby stroller.
Do you have more questions about Metro use? Don’t hesitate to e-mail your questions at Parislogue. The official Paris Metro site is www.ratp.fr. Click on the English/American flag to get the English translation, but you won’t get all the juicy details about the discount cards like ‘Ticket-Jeune’ unless you read French! Here are the key words you need to know to navigate the French site –
Tarifs = Fares
Titres = Fare titles, i.e. single tickets, ‘carnets’, Mobilis
Only Paris Visite is translated in English. Carte Orange, Mobilis, Ticket Jeune and Navigo are not translated.
Please be sure to double check the official www.ratp.fr site for most current rates. (the rates I’ve posted are current as of April 11, 2008).
Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2008