|Navigo Transit Pass, Paris, France
The Navigo is a plastic RFID-card transit pass you can buy for use of the RER, Métro, city buses, funiculars, some Transilien and RER trains, and other public transit services in Paris and the Île-de-France.
You buy the card, load credit onto it, touch it to the Métro fare gate or bus validation machine, and you're on your way.
Navigo passes have supplanted the historic paper tickets, so your best bet for paying fares in Paris and the Île-de-France is Navigo. A bonus: some Paris facilities (including Batobus) offer a discount to holders of Navigos.
Navigo Makes It Easy
Public transit in Paris and the Île-de-France is divided into concentric Zones, with Zone 1 being the historic city center and Zone 5 the most distant ring, including destinations such as La Défense, St-Denis to the north, Versailles to the southeast, and even Charles-de-Gaulle and Orly airports.
The least expensive passes allow you unlimited travel in one or two zones. The most expensive—but still discounted compared to single tickets—allow travel anywhere in all five zones. Here are maps/plans of the entire system, with zones, on the RATP website.)
Day, Month, Year
You can buy a Navigo pass for a day's worth of unlimited travel, or a week, month or year. There's also the Navigo Easy, a plastic RFID card that can be loaded with credit and used in place of the traditional paper tickets on any day, for any length of time. (See below.)
Unless you plan to use public transport only one or two times, you should get a Navigo pass. It's far more convenient, and will probably save you money.
If you plan to use the RER trains or city buses to travel between central Paris and a Paris airport, the Navigo is obviously a money-saver. More...
The Navigo Easy is the plastic RFID card replacement for the traditional paper ticket t+. It works just like the tickets, but with less hassle: you pay 2€ for the card itself, then load the Navigo Easy with as many standard fares as you like (including with a discounted carnet of 10 tickets), and use the card as many days as you like, reloading it with credit whenever you like.
You can also load Navigo passes onto the card, such as the Navigo Jour.
The traditional paper tickets are being phased out, so the Navigo Easy is the future of anytime, anywhere occasional transit in Paris.
If you plan to use public transport at least four times in one day, you should buy a Navigo Jour. A Zone 1 pass (8.45€) gives you the run of central Paris for less than the cost of four fares. A Zones 1-to-5 pass (20.10€) allows you to come and go to CDG or ORY airports for less than the round-trip/return train fare plus to use Métro, buses, trams and RER anywhere else in Paris!
You can load up to two Navigo Jour passes onto a Navigo Easy card, meaning that two people traveling together need only one card: load the passes onto the card, one person taps the card, hands it to the other, the second person taps it, and you're both on your way.
By the way, these fares are the same as the traditional Mobilis paper ticket.
You can use a Navigo Jour on the date of purchase, or for use on any of the six days following the date of purchase. It is valid for the complete day you choose, from 12 midnight (00:00 to the next 12 midnight (24:00).
If you board a Noctilien (night) bus near the end of the pass's validity (23:45/11:45pm, for example), you can ride past the end of validity.
For short-term foreign visitors, the Navigo Découverte pass is available by the calendar week (Monday to Sunday).
You can buy your Navigo Découverte at most Métro ticket windows and some RER and Transilien ticket windows, or at the train station ticket windows at Paris's airports. You pay a one-time charge of 5€ for your Navigo Découverte card, including your Carte Nominative Transport and the transparent plastic frame that holds both cards together.
You Need a Photo!
You must attach a full-face, no-hat photograph of your face to your Navigo pass (maximum photo size: 2.5 x 3 cm/1 x 1.25 inches).
Options for the photo:
1. Bring a small full-face photo from home.
2. The agent in the ticket booth may have facilities to shoot the photo for you.
Having obtained your Navigo Découverte pass, you then pay 30€ for a calendar week (Monday through Sunday) of unlimited travel in the Île-de-France (Paris and vicinity Zones 1 to 5: map). If you set up an account on the Bonjour RATP smartphone app, you can recharge your Navigo card right from your phone.
You can start your Navigo pass with money on any day of the week, but because its week of validity always begins on Monday, if you recharge it in the middle of the week you may not get full value: you'll pay full price, but it will still expire at midnight on the following Sunday.
Starting on Friday, you can recharge your Navigo pass good for the following week, and it becomes valid at 00:01 (12:01 am) on Monday morning.
Use it to/from the Airport!
A round-trip ticket between Aéroport Charles de Gaulle and central Paris costs 22.90€, more than a Navigo Jour Zones 1-to-5 pass (20.10€), and much of the cost of a weekly Navigo Zones 1-to-5 pass (30€), so if you're traveling from/to CDG or ORY, and also using the Métro and city buses in central Paris, you may save money with a Navigo even if you use it for a one-way trip to or from the airport, and/or for less than a full week.