Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mastering the Paris Metro

David's Never-Get-Lost Sheet
David hates to get lost, so, short of hiring a guide to accompany us--something a Tightwad Traveler seldom considers--he does the next best thing.  His approach is free and effective.  We haven't gotten lost yet!
He spends a little time before our trip mapping out the Metro stops we will use to get to the destinations on our itinerary.  Using a website like this one, plus guidebooks, eliminates the guesswork.

Remember that Paris's sixteen Metro lines are numbered, color-coded and named according to the destinations at either end of the line. It may seem daunting at first, but it's easy to get the hang of the subway with a little practice.  It's one of those skills that sounds much more difficult to master than it is.

First decide the direction you are going and then locate your destination on a Metro map.  Note the names of the line which are the termination points, because that is the name you will follow. Look for this name on signs as you walk through the underground tunnels to find your platform.  Board your train and check the map mounted on the wall to count the number of stops to your station.  You will also see the name prominently displayed on the station wall as you roll to a stop.  If in doubt, simply ask someone if this is your stop, "Ce _____?" (pronounced SAY______)

For example, we will take the Bobigny-Place d'Italie line number five, so named because the line travels from Bobigny to Place d'Italie.  We'll ride 'til the very end.  At Place d'Italie we will transfer to line 6 (We'll stay in the subway area so we'll be able to transfer for no additional charge.), which goes from Nation to Charles de Gaulle/Etoile, and get off at the Bir-Haleim station to walk a short way to the gardens.  Note that this line has 28 stations but we will only need to find the one we need, the Bir-Haleim.

So, do a little preliminary planning, jot down the names of the lines you need either before you go or after studying the map when you get to Paris, and you'll soon be navigating the Metro like a native.

Practicalities -

Remember that a carnet (book) of tickets is a less expensive option than individually purchased tickets.  One ticket costs €1.70 but a carnet of ten is €13.70.  

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