Monday, April 25, 2016

A-Z Challenge: U is for Underground

The Metro is the common name for the Parisian subway.

For those who grew up in a major city and are accustomed to this type of transportation, you may find nothing particularly special about the Metro.

But as a junior in high school, this was my first subway experience, and I am always amazed how easy it is to navigate and  find my way around town.

When I returned to Paris in 2006, I stayed in an apartment in Montmartre. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Montmartre is located on the hill in Paris, so one must descend (and ascend) LOTS of steps to access the subway.

Every metro stop has large, easy-to-read maps to help you find the right train for your ultimate destination. You need to know just a few key points of information:

  • the subway line for your final stop
  • the name of the subway station you are currently at
  • which direction the train should be going to get to your next stop.

I LOVE that each train line is color coded. It easily identifies which station to exit to make the appropriate train connection.

All the trains are fast, relatively clean, and run on schedule. Each station has a clock that not only gives the time of day, but a countdown to the next train's arrival. I think the longest I have had to wait for a train is twenty minutes.

I felt comfortable riding one train from point A to point B. I was a little nervous changing trains by myself.

The first day I ventured out on my own, I had to exit at the Concorde station to catch another train. The map on the train helped me calculate how many more stations until I would need to disembark.

When we arrived at Concorde, I followed the passengers off the train, and began to wonder which direction to turn.

I heard faint music in the air and stopped to listen. Could it be?! They were playing the Chicken Dance. I broke into a smile and knew the rest of the day would be just fine.

Nearly every time I exited at Concorde, I heard the same music. On my last day in the city I asked the duo if I could take their picture. They kindly obliged.

The name of my station in Montmartre was Abbesses. As you can tell from the picture, the primary colors are yellow, white and blue.

What I really love about the Metro stations, however, is that each stop has its own distinct style and personality. While I don't remember which stop corresponds to each color theme, I thought I would share just a few images to illustrate the variety.


  1. It sounds a lot like the subway system I have to use sometimes, which is color coded as well. But it's definitely not always clean and on schedule. Recently a train left the station without a driver...I'm glad I wasn't on it!

    1. Oh my ... no driver?! That does not sound like optimal conditions...

  2. Oh, yes ... the subway one should avoid to travel with a trolley. I definitely prefer the backpack there because of all the stairs. But the stops are really stylish :-)


    1. I was glad I had a light backpack - especially returning home to Abbesses :)

  3. The Paris Metro was definitely handy! My U last year was Underground for the London Underground--that one's my favorite subway, I think! :-)

    1. I love the Tube as well ... "Mind the Gap" is a great expression!

  4. Well, then I have to ask: how do undergrounds work in Canada? The organization you described for Paris is the same I've found in all undergrounds I rode here in Europe, it's pretty standard. And yed, it's a pretty easy system to ride ;-)

    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

    1. I'm not sure how they work in Canada, but now that I've grown-up and visited more cities in the US, I discovered this is common for subways.

      But as a first time traveler to a big city - never experienced public transportation before - i was amazed at the Metro :)


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