As the saying goes… ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do’ so as we arrived at Gare du nord on the Eurostar we thought we would do as the Parisians do and find our way to the hotel using the metro.
As Londoners who use the tube frequently we thought it would be a pretty easy journey but our first hurdle came when we used the self service ticket machine, even with the option to use it in English we couldn’t understand how to purchase the ticket required and had to queue up to buy it from the ticket office. I suddenly felt empathy for all the people that use the tube and don’t speak English.
Although there are really confusing maps everywhere that we didn’t understand (must attempt to learn French) the metro system is pretty easy to navigate. Each line has a colour and a number which makes it easier than having to remember the name of the line like the London underground. We started on line four and had to change over to line one, the whole journey was around 25 minutes and cost around 7 euros for a travel card in zones 1 and 2 which was much cheaper than it would have been if we took a taxi.
I was really impressed with the screens on the carriage that tell you how many minutes until the next stop and how many minutes until the end of the line. Each stop is around two minutes so I think the stations are slightly closer together than they are in London. The trains themselves were a little worse for wear and as you can see from the picture many of the stations such as Gare du nord could do with a lick of paint, unlike the station at the louvre which looked like a museum itself!
What was strange was when we were trying to find a hole to put our ticket through on the way out but there didn’t seem to be any, then we noticed that people were just pushing their way through the barriers that make you feel like you’re taking part in some sort of assault course.
Seeing all the vending machines at the stations brought back some memories. Who remembers the old Cadbury machines with the square shaped chocolate bars that were on all the platforms in London? I wonder what happened to those!
If you are planning a trip to Paris and want to explore different areas I would definitely recommend the metro, for time and value its a good option.