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Monday, June 15, 2009

Metro in Paris

Metro Le Louvre, Photographed June, 2009, in Paris.

I thought this picture of Paris Metro station photographed during an overcast day in Paris would be perfect for an overcast Monday in San Francisco ;)

When I lived in Paris, I used to have a love/hate relationship with the Metro.
I still do, but now with time passed, it's mostly love or is it nostalgia?

Love, because ...

The Metro takes you within walking distance of absolutely everything in Paris for a very small price, and fast. There is a train every few minutes, so just hop on and go. It takes on average 2 minutes to go from one metro station to another. In my opinion, the Metro is the fastest, most efficient transportation within Paris.

When I was younger and lived in Paris, I used to get on the Metro (subway) and get off some place I didn't know just because the name of the station looked pretty good and just walk around for a while, following the Metro line from above, until I was too tired to walk anymore, at which time I'd hop back on the subway and got home... Paris was much safer back then. Don't know if I would still do it today, but back then it was cheap fun and great exercise.

Eeach street, avenue or court has a name in Paris (as opposed to a number or a letter like in the States), and it's impossible to remember them all. Also, the little streets in Paris tend to wind around every which way for the most part (as opposed to the grid architecture seen in the States), so they're not always all that easy to find. So, when someone gives you directions, they will say "at [such or such] Metro station" because everybody can find a metro station.

Hate, because ...

The trip, during peak hours, when people are literally packed like sardines in the cars, is almost unbearable. Because the cars don't always show up when they're supposed to (the line is being worked on, there is a strike, whatever). Because to change line (correspondence) requires you to walk the longest tunnels (several hundred yards) and climb almost that many stairs (clearly the system was never designed for the elderly or the disabled). Because from time to time, you'll see rats cross the rails (ewww!). And finally, let's just say it, the underground *really, really* smells pretty bad.

Still, I can't imagine Paris without the Metro. It would be like a hamburger without a bun. A baseball player without a bat. A car without gas. Or a White House without a President.

The Metro was built in 1900 in Paris, just a few years after the New York subway. While some stations were renovated more recently and look a bit different, there are still many, many Art Nouveau stations like the one on the photograph above, in Paris.

I will update this post with more pictures of the Metro later on.

More information about the Metro at Wikipedia

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Blogger Madame K said...

Yep, Je suis d'accord. I heart the Paris Metro inspite of the fact that just 3 weeks ago I had a near death by body odor experience on line 4. Seriously, my eyes watered.

Frankly I could overlook the rats if they could find a way to chill-out that lovely Paris metro "aroma".

Oh la la!

2:50 AM  
Anonymous from cali said...

Now I need to check to see what similar looking Paris Metro I photographed.

You said it all about the likes and dislikes! Yin and Yang for everything, isn't there?

11:59 AM  
Blogger AphotoAday said...

Loved your description of how the streets go every-which-way... I pulled up Paris on Google's Panoramio.com (I don't have the GoogleEarth plug-in but this works just fine) and looked at the interesting pattern around Place de la Bastille...   Interesting how many pie-shaped blocks there are...

Interesting Art Nouveau work on the Metro station entrance...

1:41 PM  
Blogger Patty said...

I'm sure I would still get lost, I can do that very easy.

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonyme ~ V said...

The Paris Metro...

Not quite the Muni, non? Lol

12:58 PM  
Blogger Otir said...

I love Paris with all my heart. I used to know any Metro station and could tell which line, where to change to get there if necessary, and on certain lines which car to get into in order to be near the exit or the correspondance. I don't think I could do that anymore, because it's been so long ago now or it feels.

But when I grew older, I used to avoid more and more being underground and started to develop the same knowledge with the bus lines (and there are some lines you have double-cars so that might challenge you to know which one to sit on if you want to catch another bus for a "correspondance"!).

Ah Paris! thanks for the lovely minute of nostalgia.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Madame K: Hello! Yes, I know exactly what you mean. At least, the rats go away but the odor ...

From Cali: You photographed the Metro? Cool. You should blog!

APhotoADay: If you like walking, you'd really enjoy it over there. I think the average tourist in Paris walks a good 6 or 7 miles a day, just walking through the streets and main areas.

Patty: I get lost, and I used to live there! But they have color coded lines and it's easy enough to find your way back eventually.

Anonyme V: Not quite. I don't have any love for MUNI (well, with the exception of the Market St. street cars, of course).

Otir! Long time! I recognize the true Parisian in your comment. Yes, I did too know exactly where to wait for the train, but I never learned to like the buses. At the time, they were just too slow, too few and far between. The bus system's performance has really improved since Delanoe (mayor of Paris) has created bus-only lanes. Of course, that doesn't help the cars. ;)

4:01 PM  
Blogger grego said...

bonjour, on ne se connait pas mais je pars à San Francisco le 25 et j'ai besoin d'aide pour une chose précise... Si jamais vous avez deux minutes pour me répondre, je suis à Paris et mon mail est le suivant

Merci beaucoup


2:39 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

C'est quoi la chose precise, Greg?

9:13 AM  
Blogger tonton_flaneur said...

Ahhh..tomate..what a GREAT post!! Unfortunately I think all big cities are more dangerous than they were when we were kids, but I don't think Paris is more dangerous than some big American cities. I have walked great distances in Paris very late at night[more like early in the morning]and only felt threatened by the drivers..LOL!! I grew up in Boston which is home to the oldest American subway system[1897]and I can remember when people could actually smoke on the cars when they were riding on the rails as a LRV[light rail vehicle]..funny! I actually like the smell of the Paris subway[I know I'm sick..]but when I first get to Paris I associate that smell with being back in Paris and then after a few days it's..."P--Ewww"..

9:45 PM  
Anonymous from cali said...

"You should blog!" That won't stop me from commenting here! ;)

9:58 AM  
Blogger Petrea said...

Hi Tomate--
A photo of Paris is appropriate any day. Merci.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Tonton Flaneur: I didn't know you were from Boston! First subway in the world, uh? You should be proud! ;) I know it's hard to believe but some areas of Paris are far more dangerous than they look.

Petra: Thank you for your visit and comment! I think I will post a few more about Paris in the near future.

2:05 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

"from cali said...
"You should blog!" That won't stop me from commenting here! ;"

Feel free! All visits and comments are very much appreciated!

10:59 AM  
Blogger Louis la Vache said...

You are certainly right about the smell....something of a combination of cigarette smoke, garlilc and burning rubber...

6:39 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Great comments and wonderful photo. Lucky you to have lived in Paris, and I imagine that you miss it!

6:04 AM  

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