Taking the Metro anywhere, anytime, anyhow.
Being from New York originally, I've always had an affinity for subways. While the New York subway is colossal, magnificent, and tough. The Paris Metro system is calm, pleasant, and smells nice. The people watching is awesome and the trains run hyper-frequently.
It's odd that I would list something simple like taking the metro as a top moment in Paris, but thinking on it it makes perfect sense. Parisians take the metro everywhere, to work, cafes, museums, nightclubs, everywhere. As a visitor it's easy to fall right into the fold.
Like all major cities, Soviet Moscow excluded, the Paris metro has it's own unique set of beggars. American cities tend to have people asking for change straight out, in Paris everyone does something for the money. Singing, accordion, rapping and yes even an inter-station puppet show.
Every station has great vending machines with cheap chocolates, water, and orangina among other great snacks. The ads on the walls of the stations beckon with sales on scarves or vacations to the Mediterranean.
The metro seems to be a place where people think in Paris. There isn't much conversation to be heard. Watch out for pick-pockets, but be assured the metro is safe, and don't be surprised to see an occasional machine gun toting French soldier.
When visiting Paris opt for the metro over cabs or buses. They are faster and more relaxing. You can buy tickets in batches of ten or passes good for three, five, and seven days.
A few tips:
Interactive Map of Paris France:
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