I was lucky enough to enjoy an (almost) all-expenses paid trip to Paris last week and so I spent the weekend traipsing around the sites. Needless to say my feet got pretty tired and so I resorted to taking the Paris version of the tube – the Métro.
Admittedly I was using it during the weekend and (once on Wednesday lunchtime) but I was shocked to see an absence of books on the trains. There wasn’t even a newspaper to be seen! Now the weekends are relatively book-light in London as well, something to do with the reduced volume of commuters I suspect, but there are always one or two dotted around the carriages. And failing that there is always a forgotten copy of the Metro (newspaper in this context!) or the Evening Standard which make an appearance. But there was none of this across the channel.
I did see two books being consumed on my travels but one of these was English and I have reason to believe that it’s reader was heading for Gare du Nord and possibly the London Underground.
So what’s going on? Why do the Parisians not feel the need to distract themselves from their subterranean travels in the same way as us Brits? Part of the Metro is outside it’s true; line 6 is especially exciting as the section that crosses the Seine is actually on a double-decker bridge (Pont de Bir-Hakem), but still the majority of travel is in the dark.
Some other differences between the tube and the Métro:
- Vending machines on platforms! Although it’s probably for the best that there aren’t any on London platforms, I’d only spend a fortune.
- The price. A single trip in the Paris area costs 1.70€ (£1.35) compared to an equivalent trip in London which is £4.30 (5.40€)
- And finally, the quality of the trains. Actually there’s not much difference here, it seems to vary by line on both sides of the channel but I think London trains are very slightly nicer. Also the seats are arranged better in London, no awkward sets of four taking up all the space. Well London had to win something didn’t it?!