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Taking the Metro in Paris

I've always liked the metro.

I remember riding the L train in Chicago to Cubs games at age five, already trying to figure out where we would need to change trains. I recall being fascinated by the complex New York City subway system while visiting as a teenager, an intriguing alternative to the jam-packed streets of The Big City. I liked to think of it as a game. How do I get from Point A, this random place in the city, to Point B, my destination, as quickly as possible? I enjoyed the thought that I could be dropped off anywhere in the city and be able to find my way back home.

Now, as I'm studying abroad in Paris, I like taking the metro on a daily basis as my primary means of transportation in Paris. I purchased a Navigo Pass, which I renew monthly, that allows me to take the Paris metro an unlimited number of times. The metro is extremely convenient, making every inch of the city accessible through a metro ride and a short walk. The trains are clean and they are consistently on time. That's huge in terms of reliability and appeal as a mode of transport.

 Inside the metro

The metro is great because it allows me to just explore the city at will. I can hop on the metro and go to a new part of town, or I can wander around whatever part of town I'm in, knowing that I'll be able to find a metro station just a few minutes away. It's as if the whole city is our campus. It's also nice to have a relatively stress-free commute, where I can sit down and put on your headphones and think, rather than worry about traffic.

There are, of course, times when it is jam-packed, and those instances are less enjoyable. Still, for public transportation, it's hard to complain. The metro runs from 5:30 AM to 12:45 AM, except on Friday and Saturday nights, when it runs until 1:45 AM. It is common to take a taxi or use Uber if you are out past the last train.

 An oncoming metro train

Walking is also a big part of getting around in Paris. At a minimum, you have to walk to and from the metro stop, but I find that walking longer distances is a good way to get to know the city. We have been graced with fantastic weather thus far, which has allowed me to take some of these longer treks. It's one thing to see where places are on a map, but it's another to be able to see them and make the connections as to where each landmark is in relation to others.

Buses and bikes are two other common means of transportation for students. The Navigo Pass also works to use the buses, which take different routes than the metro. The bike system in Paris is very practical as well. You can rent a bike from one of the stations, ride it, and drop it off at a different station across the city.

While there are different ways to get around in Paris, I prefer the metro. It's convenient, reliable, clean, and useful. I know I'll miss it when I'm gone.

Riley Duncan is the Fall 2014 MOJO in Paris, France. He is currently a junior at the University of Tennessee.


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