16 Feb 2010

Thinking of Paris And How To Get Around

There is public transport and then there is public transport. I would be untruthful if I told you I was a fan of the London tube or the New York subway but I am absolutely telling the ‘cross my fingers, swear on the lives of the children’ truth when I say I love the Parisian metro. It is quick, it is efficient and often the decorative nature of the stations are interesting to look at. The escalators take you deep down and the winding tunnels lead you to the colour coded platforms. Often buskers will serenade you with some jazzy tune or other. Ok, the Metro is underground and most transport systems below the earth’s surface leave a lot to be desired but this one works; it is a little shabby in parts but nothing that the people watching can’t make up for. A couple of euros and you can ride from one side of Paris to the other; buy a carnet of ten at the ticket booth and you can have days of fun for a reasonable price.

The other way to mosey around Paris is by bike.  The Velib is a public bicycle rental system where for a small subscription per day you can hire a velib at any of the bicycle bays throughout the centre of Paris. The idea is you hop on, cycle to your destination, drop off the bike and then collect another to continue on your way or return back to base. It is simple, inexpensive, efficient and very popular.

If you like riding bikes, taking on the Parisian drivers and being exposed to the elements then the velib is for you. If, like me, you prefer to sit and watch the world go by then try the Metro or better still if you have the time….walk.

Walking is by far the best way to see any city especially one as beautiful as Paris… xv

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Semi Expat

Am a big fan of the transport system in Melbourne and also love the trams… my husband (Mr SE) braved the velibs a few weeks back when he went to Paris on business… I wrote about it on my blog…(Jan 23rd and Jan 22nd posts if you would like to see more)…


Love this post, remind me of when I used to live in Paris and people watch in the Metro, and the unspoken rules of getting on and off especially at pick hours. But what stays with me, is the smell of Gitanes, they probably do not smell like that anymore, no smoking in public places!!! Thanks for sharing. Happy blogging.

Bonjour Madame

I loved the metro so much! I thought it was so beautiful in some parts with the tiles and art and the musicians were fantastic. But the best part was how easy it was to figure out and how fast you could get way across town.

Jeanne-Aelia Desparmet-Hart

I completely agree with you that the metro is a fantastic system in Paris. But the velib? well that's a different story. For having ridden a bike (mine) to work some years ago and stopping a few weeks later to avoid being maimed or killed(merci les automobilistes et les taxis!!) I shudder everytime I see a rider on a velib. 1%, if that, wear a helmet! in Paris! The idea is GREAT! the risk is ENORMOUS! the injured and the killed ( yes, there have been some)are kept very much a secret… LOVE your great great blog non the less. merci.


Dear Vicki,
I think that the bike idea is great and, we can do the same in London.
I haven't experienced the Metro in Paris…we usually walk and, I'm sure that it's a nicer experience than the tube but, did you know that the tiled walls at the stations of the tube are done in different colours and pictures because, in Victorian times, many people couldn't read and only knew where to get off by the tiled pictures and colours at each station….many of them still exist. Just a little bit of English history that you might not know !! XXXX


lol, it's true Vicki, I have never had any trouble getting around Paris by metro and we enjoy all the buskers both on the platforms and on the trains. "My Way" sung in French just puts you in a very good mood for the day :-). I will have to try the bicycle one time though. Kathy.


Bonjour Vicky,
I agree the Metro is a good way to get around. The velibs have become popular but I don't think I'd survive navigating through the traffic, I'm a terrible bike rider (but that's another story).
Have a fabulous week!


I agree 100% with you about the Paris metro. It is amazing! I wish other counties would join the club! It is so easy to get around Paris. Even for a novice!!


oh! I miss the metro! Is the metro stop pictured Assemblée Nationale on the m12? That was "my" stop in paris during my visit last january. i love how you can criss-cross paris in the span of a day, only for a few euros!

La Petite Gallery

First trip to Paris, came from Ireland, train to Gare St Lazare. Put my luggage in a locker,walked to three different hotels and booked a room on Amsterdam Blvd Antique shops everywhere…Dinner at 94 rue D'Amsterdam. Thought I died and went to Heaven.It was called MONSEIGNEUR.I couldn't get over the show it was all so elegant.I sat at the JFK table. I walked Clichy Blvd, to Montmarte. Spent my days there. Met some lovely French people.Of course I made the mistake of walking alone to Moulin Rouge. Was harrassed by Africans in robes I threated them with my fist. "The" Man at Moulin Rouge came to my rescue and gave me a wonderful seat.WALKING IS BEST!!!Not blvd. de Clichy@ nite.


I never had the chance to take the subway when I was in Paris, as we took the Batobus for a scenic river view instead and walked everywhere else… but I loved all the decorative signage out front of each stop! Next time…


Oh, I SO agree!!
During my first trip to Paris, a friend and I were struggling with the coins and the entry…
a lovely woman came up to us and deposited her own coins and with a flourish of her hands, waved us through. I can still see her beautiful smile these many years later. It made the ride even better!


I so agree with you, Vicki! The Paris Metro is spectacular…But of course it is Paris, how could it not be. I am not quite sure how I would feel on a bicycle with those French drivers though!
Have a lovely day,

A Gift Wrapped Life

You bring back memories with this post Vicki. My husband is fascinated by subways and we always have to go on them in every city….yes, Paris metro included. I think it brings back our early married student days in Toronto. I was fine with the Paris system, not so much with London (unless it has had a redo since). Now the cycling in Paris….I'm up for it if you are! XO


I had the pleasure of living in London during the 80's and absolutely fell in love with the ease and convenience of the Tube. Being a gal from California, it was amazing to be able to move around a major city with such ease. Unfortunately, when I returned with my family 20 years later, I found it to be a crowded disaster. I almost lost my seven year old son at a stop because he was wedged in a corner and couldn't get out in a timely manner. We leave for Paris in one month and look forward to riding the Metro. I've heard from friends that it's very safe but it's great to hear from a local that it really is as great as people say!


Oh my dream is to do the bike thing in beautiful Paris… one day. I'm saving up all your posts… believing that one day… reality! A-M xx

Verandah house

Once we worked out how hard it was to catch a taxi we used the metro and never looked back, I just loved watching the French people its an entire experience we loved it. x

Linda Carswell

I couldn't agree more…I too dislike the London & New York systems, but adore the Paris Metro. We usually start out the day by walking and when we are too tired to walk any more we get the Metro back….to easy!

Linda x


Wonderful post, Vicki…I would love to try all of the types of transportation in Paris – that would be fabulous! :)

for the love of a house

I thought it was just us who loved the Paris metro!! Glad to know we are not alone! I always feel like I am part of the city when riding the metro!
And although we have many times, we swore the last time we won't take it to Marche aux Puces/Saint-Ouen again- that was just too scary!


Oh I absolutley loved the Paris Metro system. I agree wholeheartedly with you about using the Metro and walking to see Paris. We also rode the TGV between cities too. It was very nice also.

Have a wonderful week.

Dumbwit Tellher

I have only been to Paris twice but always enjoyed the metro. Was so pleased to know about renting bikes there & how easy it is. That is certainly something we would be interested in doing. Thank you for sharing such useful information.

Hope your week is going well Vicki?
x deb


I would definitely need to have MOTH with me on the Metro Vicki. Much to the kids total embarrassment, he always, always talks to his fellow passengers on public transport. They start off as strangers & by the next station, he's generally got the whole carriage laughing & telling him their life stories!!
Millie ^_^


Another great thing about the metro at this time of the year is that it is warm, I would thaw out there and then we'd walk another mile or ten.
We spent 10 days in Paris last year in Feb and only used the metro or walked the whole time, the walking is great to burn off all the macarons. Yum!


There's an energy in the Paris metro that I miss. A smell too and a temperature that reminds me of 'home.' Don't miss the strikes though or the packed carriages in rush hour. But oooh – when I remember all those years with fondness – the rush of the metro comes high in my mind.

Living in Germany

Yes, I thought it very easy to get around Paris with the Metro system even with five kids in tow. Loved the system in Vienna even better as far as efficiency, but agree with you that the Metro in Paris has a culture all its own ~ at least that's what I think you said here :-) Love your blog!!


We were in Paris last week and took the Metro to St. Ouen. I loved the market! I like the Metro too! It makes getting around Paris easy and the Metro tiles are really cool ~ a nice twist on the 'usual' subway tiles.

I'm gonna have to bring a moving truck next time! There is too much cool stuff at the market that I want to take home!

Love your blog!

Anne in Oxfordshire

Hi Vicki.. I agree with you. I have been to Paris twice in the last year, (my first time ever) and I love the Paris Metro. I zipped about like I had been there forever,and people watching was amazing. The metros are something ..you have to keep an eye out for the wonderful decorations .


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