How To Use The Paris Metro
Paris is (still) one of the biggest touristic destinations in the world, despite the recent threat of terrorist attacks. While visiting the City of Love, you’ll have to face the underground subway (or tube) known as the “métro” in French.
Paris’ metro means encountering stressful people; lots of tourists means pickpockets, and the size of Paris itself means LOTS of potential to getting lost. But don’t panic! I’m going to give you the best tricks to surviving metro after taking it in Paris for the first time. (Be warned: I might exaggerate a tiny bit, though!)
Try to find your way BEFORE getting into the Métro.
Take a look at your map or the guidance apps on your phone a little aside from the crowd. A distracted tourist is the easiest target for pickpockets, so be sure to keep your positions backed against the wall. Once you’re sure which station you have to reach, go to your closest metro station and check the list of stops for each side so you don’t end up traveling in the wrong direction. Trust me, by not having to deal with the summer heat AND the body warmth of everyone being clumped together, you’ll thank yourself for making your way in the métro as efficient as possible.
Get the Parisian behavior.
In other words: don’t look like a tourist too much.
The typical Parisian is always in a hurry, they walk quickly and they know where they’re going. They don’t smile and don’t care about tourists. They often look concerned and busy. The typical Parisian listens to music with their headphones and doesn’t look at the people around them.
But not everyone is the typical Parisian in the Métro. The thing is that the Métro is kind of the mirror of French society. Everyone takes it, so you never know who you’re with. Musicians and panhandlers are here to break the silence and sometimes guys think that it is the perfect place to hit on you (hint: it’s not).
You don’t know how a smile or a look will be interpreted, so we’ve found that the best way to travel the Métro is to be indifferent. However, if a pregnant woman or elderly person is standing, don’t hesitate to be polite and offer them your seat. But, to get back to the-avoid-embarrassment-and-pickpocket’s strategy, I don’t really like the headphones thing, because I like to hear what’s going on around me. So, I just fake reading a little book. The trick is basically to seem focused on something.
Of course, if you’re with someone you know, everything gets easier as you can just talk. Also, it depends on where you’re taking the Métro. Some areas are better attended than others. You may think that I’m a little paranoid, and maybe I am. As a teenage girl who goes to Paris to visit friends and family, I just find it a bit awkward when I take it by myself.
Besides, don’t forget not to put anything important in your jeans’ pocket and in the front pocket of your bag. An Australian friend of mine had his phone stolen from the pocket of his shorts. Honestly, I wasn’t even surprised. Paris is full of wonders, but you better be careful anyway!
I wish you a safe and not-too-awkward ride into the Métro!