Because I live at least an hour’s train ride away from my school, transportation is something that I had to consider. The last time I was here, I had something called a Passe NaviGO “Imagin’R” (pronounced ee-mah-shee-nair). It was a discount metro pass for students, and I paid approximately $300 for one year for unlimited travel within the main parts of Paris.
The Paris metro is separated into price zones. It goes from 1-6, with zones 1-2 being the major parts of Paris. Anything out into zone 3-6 becomes more and more expensive. Because my school is located in zone 6, I knew I would be paying a lot of money to get back and forth. (Quelle chance!)
A one-way ticket from Paris to Mantes la Ville costs 7,55€. Doing that twice per day, it would be 15,10€, or the equivalent of $22.15. Four times a week, that would be $88.60 a week. Approximately $354 per month. So instead I was going to get a Passe NaviGO and recharge it each month, which would cost me closer to $180/month. That makes a big difference!
But when I went to the SNCF office at Gare Saint-Lazare, the closest train station, the Monsieur at the desk told me that it would save me money if I bought the year pass instead of the monthly pass. He then explained in great detail, talking very quietly (I could barely hear him, and not hearing = no chance of understanding), about the advantages an “Intégrale” (year pass) would offer me. It would save me quite a bit of money, especially for traveling within zones 1-6, he told me.
The only thing was that I needed my RIB (relevé d’identité bancaire), or bank account transfer numbers, to set up an Intégrale. That means the first payment could be made in cash, and subsequent payments would be taken directly out of my French bank account. He told me that I could go get that information, and that when I came back, I would not have to wait in line again to see him; that he take me right away after finishing up with whichever other customer was at his desk.
I left the office, and then…for some reason, I cracked. I panicked. At first I was a little skeptical, and thought he was just trying to sell me on a year pass when I was only going to be here for 9-10 months. It was even worse when I didn’t understand him, and the tired exasperation began to set in, the kind that gets exacerbated when you go into a situation thinking you know what you want and what you’re doing, only to find out there is a different way to do it, and it’s confusing.
I hadn’t understood the gross majority of what he said, or at least they were taking a while to sink in, and it honestly took some rehashing in English with Peter before I was able to calm down and think it through. I felt like a complete idiot for getting frustrated enough to cry over something so unimportant. I blame it on the jet-lag.
But I thought about it, and his explanations did make sense, the more I thought about them. So I went back to my apartment and got my RIB information, and went back down to the station.
In the end, I got my card. Starting on today, I will be able to travel within ALL Paris! I guess that’s a good thing, even though I probably won’t go outside of zones 1-2 very often.
I wonder, will it get me to IKEA? To CDG airport?