Adventures in the Paris Metro

Travelling by metro in Paris was an interesting and incredible experience. I didn’t realize how accustomed I’d become to the Moscow metro until now. The Paris metro is very shallow comparatively and every station seems a little bit different whereas things are pretty consistent throughout the Moscow Metropolitan.

The first thing to learn was how to read the signs. In Moscow there are nice little signs on the wall showing the direction of the train. All stops are posted so you can see where you need to go. Here, there was only a sign hanging from the ceiling with the direction posted on it. Basically you had to know what the last stop was on the line in order to determine your direction.

Then, once you’ve determined your direction and the train arrives, you have to get on the train. That sounds easier said than done. In every metro I’ve ever been on, the doors always open at every stop, regardless of people getting on or off. But here, people only open the doors when they want to get off. Hence, the latch on the door that you have to lift to open it when you want to get on or off.

After getting on, the seats are arranged in a quite different way. Instead of parallel lines of seats facing one another, the seats are arranged like those on a bus. Two rows of two seats, one on the right and one on the left. At first it seemed very inefficient space wise and also very strange to be sitting so close to and in such intimate contact with perfect strangers. There were also folding seats near the doors that flip down to make for extra seating.

While on the train, the metro stops aren’t always announced either. This was very disconcerting at first but I noticed on some trains, which seemed to be a bit more modern, the stop were announced and even displayed with lights on a screen.

Upon exiting the metro, I was surprised to see that there were lifts. Even though the metro isn’t very deep, it seemed as if every convenience was made to make exiting as easy as possible.

While changing lines, we walked through tunnels plastered with advertisements, saw the occasional musician and heard people singing and laughing. It all seemed so cheery, so happy, so different from Moscow. It reminded me very much of the London underground. It was so different but oh so interesting and kept me constantly on my toes.

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