After sticking to magnet-stripe paper tickets for a long time; Paris now introduces smart travel cards for “normal” travellers.
Paris’ Navigo pass has been around for years, but only for season tickets (e.g. weekly and monthly) and you had to register for it. Visitors would usually go for traditional tickets, like the t+ Ticket for central paris or the Paris Visite tourist passes.
To visitors we usually suggest the carnet (booklet) of 10 Ticket+. At a price of about €17 you’d come out at about €1.7 per trip, and you stay flexible. There is also a Paris Visite pass for unlimited rids, but unless you plan to use it a lot, it’s a bit on the expensive side.
But now Paris is preparing to move away from paper tickets and has introduced two new Navigo passes for visitors and casual users.
Navigo Easy is available to everyone: You can just buy the card at any staffed ticket counter or other sales point for €2 without any formalities. This is meant to be the new “default” option for visitors.
The card is not personalized: You can pass it to someone else, but you cannot use it for multiple people on the same trip.
You can load single t+ tickets and carnets onto the Navigo Easy – the carnet on the Navigo has remained at last year’s €15. This means your Navigo Easy will break even on the first carnet even with the initial deposit.
Tickets that you can load onto the card include:
- Single tickets, €1.90
- Carnet of 10 tickets, €14.90 (vs. €16.90 for the regular paper ticket)
- Orlybus €8.50 (vs. €9.50), Roissybus €12 (vs. €13.70)
- Day Pass, €7.50 for zone 1+2, €17.80 for 1-5
- Discount tickets for children and other - see Paris by Train for the full list
RER tickets for the airports don’t seem available yet and the Orlyval train is excluded.
Note that the Navigo Easy holds tickets rather than a monetary balance, so you can’t use it for tickets other than the ones above.
Navigo Liberté+is the other new offer for occasional users. Unlike the Navigo Easy this is a personalized card, so you need to bring a passport photo and also register your bank details, as the card is postpaid at the end of each month.
In theory any European bank account within the SEPA area is fine, in practice the staff may be befuddeled if the account isn’t French. You can order the Navigo Liberté+ online, but you’ll need a French delivery address and a French mobile number.
If you manage to get a Navigo Liberté+ liberte, you can make single trips for €1.49, so there is no need for a carnet. The other fares are virtually identical to the Navigo Easy.
The main advantage of this card it has a daily cap of €7.5 if you stay in central Paris (zone 1+2). This means that you’ll never pay more than the price of a day pass – no matter how much you travel.
When you have a Navigo Liberté+, you’ll get a monthly invoice which is deducted from your bank account. If you don’t travel, you don’t pay anything.
Navigo Decouverte is the “traditional” season pass. You can buy daily, weekly and monthly passes from the ticket machines. These Navigo passes are also personalized with your photo, but you don’t need a bank account which makes the whole thing a easier to set up.
Everyone can buy those passes for €5 at a ticket booth. New tickets can be bought at the ticket machines.
The weekly pass can be interesting for travellers, as it is for zones 1-5 and includes both airports. Unfortunaely, validity is always from Monday to Sunday so that you can’t use it to stay over a weekend.
As a normal traveller, you should probably go for the Navigo Easy. It works like the traditional carnet, breaks even immediately and you can use the Navigo-only ticket gates.
However, the traditional tickets still allow you to split a carnet between several people, which isn’t possible with the Navigo Easy.
Liberté+ can be useful if you visit more often and you don’t mind the extra effort of signing up for a personalized ticket.
Word is that paper tickets are gradually being phased out in 2020; though it remains to be seen when and if this will actually happen – there are currently no Navigo replacements for many existing paper tickets.
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