I would like to start this post with a disclaimer of sorts — I am enjoying Paris. The food, the architecture, the wine, the monuments, and so forth. It’s a good time. I’ve even enjoyed French class. However, the following needs to be said.
The Metro is a beast.
I say this based on the following evidence. (It’s a true story.)
I arrived in Paris on Sunday at Charles de Gaulle, having flown EasyJet from Edinburgh (which is a story of woe of itself). I have two suitcases with me in Paris, one heavy one primarily of books and one larger heavy one (18.4 kg) of clothes and three books only (a large French dictionary, Virgil’s Eclogues & Georgics and P K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?).
Having arrived late due to the afore-alluded woes of Edinburgh Airport, I walked through the airport to the Sheraton Hotel to meet up with Catherine. Then we descended to the train station to purchase tickets for the RER, the train into Paris. Seeing various people queueing at machines, we joined a queue — for a machine that took only coins (c’est vrai!). The next three machines (each of a different colour) were of the same ilk.
Then we beheld the ticket agent for the RER. So we joined that queue to be ignored but still succeed in acquiring tickets from a cashier who was carrying on a conversation with a co-worker all the while. Then we got onto the train.
Easy peasy thus far.
And trains are easy. You just get off at the right stop. So, having seen the less beautiful parts of the city, we alighted at Gare du Nord.
Here we lugged our luggage up an escalator, past a shop called ‘Jennyfer’, and through the gates to the Metro. Then down a long hallway. To stairs down. Then stairs up.
Then we rode the Metro. The hot, sweaty Metro. The Metro with a stop every one to five minutes. After life in Toronto, where the Subway stops far less frequently, this was a lot of stops to stand sweating over top of my luggage.
Then we alighted somewhere to change lines. I don’t know where.
We went up a flight of stairs. And another — a short one. Then down a long hallway. Then down some stairs. Only to go up again and arrive at the platform.
Along the way we had to stop and consult a map to figure out which direction we needed. The only clue as to the direction of travel for the train lines is the point of termination. At least in London they also give you a compass point. How hard is Sud-est, Paris? Eh?
Then we got onto a hot, sweaty train, having hauled heavy luggage around hot, sweaty metro stations. I can see that when the Zombie War stops, there will be trouble in Paris. It is a subterranean jungle of manmade tunnels.
Eventually, we alighted at Michel Bizot. Hot, sweaty, tired, and disoriented. We climbed stairs. We exited the Metro. We climbed more stairs.
Here’s a thought, Paris Metro: ESCALATORS.
I’ve seen a few since Sunday, I’ll give the Metro that. And at least at Cité there is even an elevator, since the Metro station is so far below ground — due to the necessity of passing beneath the Seine. Ours was out of order.
But they could add many escalators. Because when an escalator breaks down, it turns into stairs. They could replace some of the many, many staircases into escalators.
I say this as a person who has thus far twice had to carry luggage through the Paris Metro and who will have to do so again one more time at the end of this month.
Enough complaining. Paris is great, if only my Jennie were here!