Old Paris

Sad news for lovers of Old Paris: the rectangular cardboard tickets that have been used on the Métro since it opened in 1900 are set to go the way of the city’s travelling knife grinders, into the history books.

If you’ve visited Paris numerous times in your life, chances are you’ve come across tickets fluttering out from old books or nestled deep into winter-coat pockets long after they were first used.

In a way it’s surprising that such an old-school ticketing system — based on a magnetic strip known to not infrequently fail — has stuck around so long in this digital world. But Parisians are nothing if not nostalgic, and these simple tickets are perhaps emblematic of a slower time, evocative of another world.

In Paris Echo, author Sebastian Faulks writes about the Parisian passengers during the World War II times who littered the ground with tickets folded into a V for victory — a sneaky symbol of resistance that drove the Nazi occupiers crazy.

And many of us have our own stories: about being stung for a hefty fine by a lurking inspector, after having absentmindedly thrown out a ticket instead of folding it safely away as future proof of purchase.

Paper tickets will still be sold throughout 2020, so make a note to buy yourself un carnet (a set of ten) as a souvenir the next time you’re in town.

While you’re there, order a Navigo Easy, a rechargeable plastic card that has been designed for tourists and other occasional users. It costs 2€ upfront, then 1.90€ for a single trip, or 14.90€ for ten rides.

Although plastic, the Navigo Easy is ultimately more sustainable than its predecessor; these paper tickets — of which 550 million are printed annually — take a good year to decompose.

The Navigo Easy will eventually cover all public transport in the Île-de-France region.

Also good to know: children aged under 11 now travel free on the Paris Métro, as well as buses.

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