“You can’t understand a city without using its public transportation system.”
The Paris Metro is almost as famous as the Eiffel Tower, and today we gave both a whirl. We decided to wimp out and forego walking to the Eiffel, a mere 3.7 miles away, and to let the Metro take us there.
Mike did his homework, and last night, on a reconnaissance mission, we located the Cardinal Lemoine station, a couple blocks from chez nous. Our first challenge was the purchase of a carnet (ten-pack) of tickets. We’d read that French vending machine didn’t like chip-challenged American credit cards. As expected, the machine spit our card back at us, so we went to the information counter. There, we stood behind an American couple who had a zillion questions for the attendant, and Mike and I exchanged smug glances as they bumbled through the process. Didn’t they read their Fodors or Rick Steves? Hadn’t they studied their Plan de Paris?
Deciding to forego jumping over the turn style like a young man in front of us, we obediently put our ticket into the slot. We were on our way. Those white tiles that are all the rage on episodes of House Hunters? Yep, the subway has subway tiles. In addition, the blue and white tiled “Cardinal Lemoine” and the gold tiled frame around the advertisements give the bowels of the Metro charm, if a subway can be charming.
We rode the gold line, transferred to purple, and needed to make no u-turns. We climbed the stairs to exit, and there she was, looming above in all her glory — the Eiffel Tower.
To get home, we shook it up, and chose the green-back-to-gold route. Simple enough for a child to figure out, or a couple of American suburbanites, used to zipping around expressways, not subways.