Paris Metro stations

Metro or subway stations across the world are all the same, right?  Stations consist of a dirty tunnel (defaced with graffiti), a horde of hungry rats, and if you're lucky, some seats that are barely clean enough to sit upon!  Well, anyone who has been to Moscow can tell you that not all subway stations are created equal.  And now, without further adieu, your "Set of Drifters" would like to also throw Paris's beret into the ring for having some of the nicest Metro stations in the world!  Depending on what arrondissement you are visiting, the aesthetic of the stations may appear quite modern or classically Parisienne in design.  A typical journey may begin with a walk past a Pantone-inspired wall design (Nation) and end with a trek up a staircase adorned in traditional Art Nouveau motifs (Denfert-Rocheau).

The network of subterranean Metro avenues are further augmented by five regional "RER" lines that connect the city with its surrounding suburbs, making the Paris metropolitan area one of the densest in the world in terms of subway transportation, and with so many different renovation projects over the years, Paris' 300+ Metro stations are really a mixed bag.

Paris Metro totems are just as varied; some of the most evocative seem to be located in the Pigalle/ Montmartre area, with their Art Nouveau fonts and curving archways courtesy of architect Hector Guimard.

The lesson in all of this is to be on the lookout at all times!  Sure, the Metro is a utilitarian device to get you from point A to point B, but that does not mean that it cannot be an interesting aspect of your vacation in and of itself.  When on holiday, it is time to explore and soak it all in!  Why not engage in an impromptu photo shoot while waiting for the train in a station accompanied by OpArt benches?  This is our world... so get out and relish every little bit of it!

Set of Drifters tip:  The 2002 film Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain certainly shows off a bunch of the city's more "classic" Metro stations.  Just don't be disappointed when you see them in person; in real life the stations are not drenched in director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's syrupy chartreuse hues!  For more information about what goes on underground Paris, check out the February 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine.  The cover story article features some really neat diagrams which show how the Metro and RER lines pass just above and below the city's old quarries (like the Paris Catacombs mentioned in "sights").

Métro de Paris -

"How rude!"

Come on now, we have all heard it before.  The French people are rude - plain and simple!  If we had a dime for every time someone told us that we would be very rich men, and trust us we are not. 

The secret to getting beyond the local Parisians' somewhat brusque manner is actually quite simple, but it does require a small commitment prior to departure.  Just pick up a French language book!  Read it on the plane if you are too busy to study at home before hand, but make sure you are comfortable enough to at least engage the locals with a "hello," "thank you" and "I would like a glass of red wine" (in French!)  Even if you cannot count to ten, or pronounce the name of the current president, you are going to have to at least prove that you tried!