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Paris Travel Etiquette: The 12 Métro Commandments

Posted December 2, 2014 by

It's no secret that perceived rudeness, even unintentional, is not well-tolerated in Paris. But visitors aren't the only ones who need a gentle reminder, according to the Parisian public transport authority.

In a light-hearted but earnest attempt to curb the faux pas of Parisiens on the métro, the transit authority has condensed 2,000 suggestions from métro and bus users into a set of 12 commandments for métro riders: Manuel de savoir-vivre a l’usage du voyageur moderne (A guide to good manners for the modern traveler).

The guide is light-hearted, punctuated with playful illustrations and French puns. While the guidelines may seem trivial, they offer useful insight into French culture.

Rule #8 is a good example: Say hello to the driver, whether it's a man or a woman. In France, it is expected that you will greet staff and sales clerks with a bonjour, madame or bonjour, monsieur. Forgetting these respectful titles may leave you stranded at the service counter or on the receiving end of a brusque reply.

Read on for the English translation!

1) Be courteous: Understand that the enormous crossed out cigarette is not a work of contemporary art, but a no-smoking sign.

2) Be helpful: That means helping the guy in the Bermuda shirt with a subway map in one hand and his hair in the other.

3) Be polite: Using your phone makes you unbearable.

4) Be helpful: Hold the exit door for the person behind you. In life, never pass on the chance to come across a pretty glance.

5) Be polite: Use your handkerchief, and not just to wave goodbye on the platform.

6) Be helpful: That means taking an old lady's bag... and giving it back to her with a smile at the top of the stairs.

7) Have manners: Share your new musical tastes on your social networks. Today, you can express yourself in silence.

8) Be polite: Say hello to the driver, whether it's a man or a woman.

9) Be courteous: Don't stare at a female rider, even if she has piercing eyes.

10) Be courteous: Don't start a duel with the knight who accidentally steps on your foot.

11) Have manners: On the really hot days, play the penguin and keep your arms at your sides. Hold onto the bottom of the pole, not the top.

12) Have manners: Don't confuse the metro with the bathroom, even if both have tiles on the walls.

View the entire guide, including illustrations, at chervoyageurmoderne.fr.

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