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Getting around Paris

A foot and bicycle path along the middle of a street in Paris.

I chose my hotel to be in the heart of tourist areas. I prefer to travel to new places this way. I find it helpful to walk around and get to know a place on foot first. There were several tourist attractions within a short walk: Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, l’Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. It made it easy to just walk around and check things out casually.

The Parisian metro

I used the metro, or subway, several times. It wasn’t difficult. Thankfully, reading French isn’t difficult for me. It’s only hearing it and speaking it that I still have quite a learning curve left. I managed to get day tickets every time I used the metro, so I didn’t have to worry about specific hours for traveling. Usually, I used the metro enough times to justify the purchase, but I think the last day or two, I could have probably just bought tickets for a few hours.

The Parisian metro is fully automated. There are no drivers on the trains. They just arrive at a stop, open doors, hold doors, close doors and travel to the next stop. There are also two sets of doors, the set on the platform and the set on the train, for each train entrance (or exit). At one stop during one of my days, a woman frantically ran toward the doors. She timed it just right to get stuck between platform doors and the train doors. A tall, strong man grabbed the doors, shoved them open and let the woman board the train. Whew!

The train and platform doors at a metro station.

On a couple of other rides on the metro, buskers boarded with portable music players and harassertained people. Obviously, we were all stuck on the train, so there wasn’t much we could do about the buskers. It seemed mildly interesting, and I saw this once while on the S Bahn in Berlin. However, there was one time a couple of guys with a mobile stereo played music and danced “at a woman”, so to speak. It felt awkward. She clearly expressed a mix of flattery and anxiety, with a nervous smile but defensive pose. It seemed like other riders didn’t know what to do but try to ignore the men.

Vendors along the Seine river

Walking around Paris, I saw many vendors. Of course, since I was in the heart of the tourist area, it was no surprise. When I walked along the Seine, I saw many mounted locked boxes early in the morning or late at night. During the day, vendors unlocked the sizable boxes that transformed into displays of different goods: artsy paintings, vintage magazines, trinkets, simple jewelry and a host of other tourist teasers. Also, some vendors stood along highly traveled sidewalks selling bottled water at fairly high prices.

Architecture in center of Paris

A metro station entrance on the far left with a typical yet majestic Paris building standing along the street.

The tourist area of Paris had a very urban feel, but the architecture maintained a timeless, historical presence. It’s the kind of thing I enjoy and get upset about developers here in the U.S. whose only goal is to make big money from tearing everything down. Tourism certainly has its place, and I can speak from experience how nice it is to have some preserved buildings to view.

Expenses in Paris versus Berlin

Paris was expensive compared to Berlin. It was nearly twice as much for some things, like food. Of course, I ate in touristy areas and went to what appeared to be nicer restaurants in Paris, whereas in Berlin, I had guidance from my friend most of the time. Yet, even the postal mail was more expensive in Paris than in Berlin. What euros I saved in Berlin I spent in Paris. Well, not quite. I did come back with some euro still in my pocket, but I definitely spent more in Paris.

One of the metro stations, its decorative lights and ceiling.

A busker on the street offers some amusement to tourists or others who stop to watch.

The side of a tour boat that takes people along the Seine river that runs through Paris.

The Pont des Arts is where people have locked their love onto the wiry sides. One of the characters in the movie “Now You See Me” mentions it.

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