How To Be French: Ride ze Metro

Clancy Tripp
November 8, 2013

Mastering the metro has been one of my proudest accomplishments during my time in Paris thus far. Not only do you get to experience the majesty of the Eiffel Tower on the above ground metro and the outrageously blatant sexism in the below-ground metro ads (“There’s no such thing as an ugly woman, there are just women who don’t try hard enough.”) you also get the opportunity to sample the unique bouquet that is Parisian body odor. Personally, I use the metro as an opportunity to spy on the Parisians in the hopes of emulating them. Like a chubby brace-clad middle-schooler I eye my fellow metro occupants up and down, “AHA! That is what the cool kids are doing these days.” The metro taught me how to wear my hair, which boots to buy, and -most importantly – how to roll my eyes at tourists with pizzazz.

Rule #1: Subway Etiquette

ze Parisian metro, a place to make friends

Maintain a face completely devoid of human emotion and interest. Do not break said passive visage for anyone or anything. Say, for example, you see a young woman carrying a Chanel bag with “BABY MOMMA” bedazzled on it in purple crystals or, perhaps, a bride and groom in full regalia taking the metro to their own wedding (both are sights I have actually witnessed…), just stare blankly ahead like La Jocande [Mona Lisa] after three Botox injections. All in a day’s work.

 Rule #2: Pardon vs. Excusez-moi

These two phrases may seem interchangeable, but let me tell you after many a sweaty trip through Paris on line 4 I believe I have mastered the intricacies of their applications. “Pardon” means something along the lines of “move now before I mash your toes by trodding over them like King Kong in an Irish river dancing competition” while “Excusez-moi” roughly translates to “I feel a little bit bad about the way I just maimed you for life in my haste to get out of the subway car, but not badly enough to pay for your impending hospital bills or offer you the use of my shirt as a makeshift tourniquet.” Recap: pardon = move now. Excusez-moi = sorry for using your copious body fat to brace myself against the metro jolts.

Also, if it wasn’t already clear from the graphic foot violence depicted above, definitely don’t wear flip flips on the metro.

 Rule #3: Don’t electrocute yourself

This rule seems intuitive, but based on the vast number of warnings present it seems more than a few people have failed to heed this warning.

do the stanky leg!

This sign does not mean “caution: Zeus will grant you the power of dane” it means “what are you, stupid? don’t touch this.” Similarly, do not go onto the train tracks. I know they must seem inviting, what with their tendency to be repeatedly smashed by metric tons of bone-crushing steel, but take my word for it, stay on the platform.

Rule #4: Enjoy the Music

There is music everywhere in the metro, from one lone man with his purple kazoo to a ten piece orchestra with vocal accompaniment Paris just can’t get enough. Strangely enough, said orchestra seems to always be playing very aggressive, stressful music when I’m sprinting down the stairs late for class. Music in the station is fine, but God help you should you get stuck in a metro car with a musician. I have been the victim of two accordion attacks – as I like to call them. I just want to take these poor performers aside and tell them that the real way to make money is to get people to pay them NOT to play, because I would have paid at least 15 euro for this accordion guy to stop playing that damned Amélie song.

Rule #5: The Last Metro on Earth

Paris, despite being a major metropolitan city with many modern conveniences, shuts down its metro at 12:30 on weekdays and 1:30 on weekends. As such, at approximately 12:27 (or 1:27) one can witness the mad sprint to the last metro by all of Paris’ partiers. At this point in the night, human kindness no longer exists and anarchy prevails as dozens of drunken Parisians clamor for a spot on the metro to end all metros.  I believe it’s something like running with the bulls, except instead of getting gored by an animal you get trampled to death by a fellow sentient being. To each his own I guess.

Of course, if you miss the last metro you can always take the night bus which is super fun, but only if your idea of fun includes the vague possibility of brutal murder.

- Clancy T.

Clancy Tripp

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Clancy Tripp is a junior at Claremont McKenna double-majoring in Literature and Film Studies with a minor in Gender Studies. In the past few years she has lived in Indiana, California, Washington D.C., and Chicago studying and working in arts and literacy education. Good luck keeping her in the same place for more than a year. True to form, she will be spending the Fall semester in Paris, France where she will spend as much time as possible with local French children, explore every arrondissement, and sample every pain au chocolat available!</span></p>

2013 Fall
Home University:
Claremont McKenna College
Film Studies
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