Purchasing Paris public transit tickets

By Richard Milberg
This item appears on page 14 of the June 2013 issue.

In Paris, the RATP (bus/Métro/tram) and RER (commuter rail) continue to make improvements in the ease of purchasing tickets and passes and in recharging passes, as my wife, Roberta, and I found during a visit, Feb. 25-March 4, 2013.

Besides the manned windows, there are multiple automated sales terminals in many larger Métro stations. All the terminals are marked with pictographs and writing as to what they do and sell and what they accept for payment (some now take euro bills). You can select from French, German, English and Spanish at most terminals; some are even more multilingual. 

You can buy single-ride tickets and day tickets as well as weekly, monthly and year-long passes. Anyone can purchase and recharge weekly, monthly or yearly RATP Navigo passes. You need a passport-sized photo for the initial purchase. You purchase your initial Passe Navigo at any manned RATP or Transilien booth in Paris or the suburbs or at the Orly or CDG airport. We recharged our Navigo passes that we got in 2010. 

There are private sales points for tickets and passes as well. These can be found on the RATP website. There are two cards in the pass that comes in a plastic holder; one is a wireless chip card and the other has your photo, name and card ID number.

A Passe Navigo “semaine” is for seven days, and a “mois” is for a calendar month. They come in different zone combos. A 7-day, Zone 1-5 pass costs 34.40 (near $45). You can’t buy a 7-day pass after the Wednesday of a week. It gets busy at the sales points on the first day of the month and on Mondays.

If you plan to take the RER B line from Paris to the CDG Airport, be aware that there may be planned track work occurring after 11:30 p.m. on weeknights or occasionally all day Saturday and Sunday. The RER B to the airport will terminate somewhere on the north end of the line. Free shuttle buses provide transport the rest of the way to/from the airport.

Information is available on the French RATP website and may be posted in French at the entrances to the escalators down to the RER B line tracks. Information is also available from the manned RATP and RER service windows. I have found that more and more RATP and RER personnel can converse in some English (if you try your poor French first).

If you can’t read French, use the Google Chrome browser and go to www.ratp.fr and let the browser translate the pages for you. You can find information about construction interruptions for your travel dates as well as other service information.


Easton, PA