Monday, May 07, 2012

Zone cards - the laid-back approach

Paris on the metro by PhylB
Paris on the metro, a photo by PhylB on Flickr.
I was in Paris last month. Given I was out in the suburbs but wanted to show the kids round all my old haunts when Thomas was at work, I decided to find out about zone cards.

I asked at the local station - Noisy-Champs, a name Léon loved to pronounce in English, - whether they had family cards, or books of tickets or the likes and they advised zone cards were best for stays of more than five days. I asked them to explain their zone cards - everyone 4 or over needed a zone card at approx 30 Euros and we'd be able to use them on all trains, métros, buses etc. Given that meant me and four of my five kids, I gulped. The woman behind the counter asked their ages. I said me, 14, 12, 6, 4 and 2. She gulped back and then told me that she didn't know of a single bus driver who wouldn't wave Anna and Léon on if three of us were already showing a valid zone card on entry to the bus, and as for trains and métros - I could simply lift them over the turnstiles. I was sceptical. Surely I will get fined if I am caught, I asked. The woman on the counter told me I could easily lie that Anna was 3 so that only left Léon and if the driver didn't believe he was 3 too(!) I could pay for the odd ticket for him in buses and again, she guaranteed I wouldn't meet an inspector on the métro or RER! I figured given how insistent she was on me lying and cheating, she'd be appalled if I was to buy Anna and Léon a zone card so I decided to try it for a day and see what happened. A week later I had been on at least 2 buses, 2 RER and 4 métro a day and she was completely correct. Bus drivers even helped me on with my buggy while waving Léón and Anna past. It really was a breath of fresh air compared to the job's worth mentality I would have encountered here, had I been trying to ferry my family around Glasgow, ticket-free!

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