Ticket Chic No More Posted by Tim Hildreth on Jul 24, 2018 in Culture, History
From its rubber tires to its station signs and art deco entrance-ways, the Paris Metro is one of the oldest, one of the busiest, and perhaps one of the most recognized public transportation systems in the world. In a city of so many iconic sights, it might seem strange that one of the most iconic is one that keeps you mostly underground!*
Last week John told us about how the RATP, the group responsable for the Métro, decided to honor France’s World Cup win by renaming a number of stations. In doing a little research for this week’s post, I learned that this isn’t the first time that certain stations adopted new identities. Back in 2016, pour le 1er avril (April 1st), the RATP updated 13 stations as well (enjoy them for yourself to the strains of Jacques Dutronc’s Le petit jardin/The little garden).**
Ticket chic, ticket choc
Another famously iconic element of the Paris Metro system, at least for now, is also one of the smallest. Almost since the beginning (in 1900), Parisian commuters on their way to work*** and foreign tourists exploring the city would gain access to the Métro using a small rectangular ticket de métro (metro ticket) that at their height (like during the 1980’s when I first lived in France) achieved near-cult pop culture status (just look at the video below!). Often purchased in un carnet de 10 (a block of 10 tickets, un carnet cost less then buying 10 individual tickets), the Paris ticket de métro was a bit of a tourist souvenir in its own right, but also ended up on clothing, mugs, key chains and more.
Sadly now – maybe not for daily commuters, but certainly for those of us who look at the ticket with nostalgia – the RATP has announced plans to phase out the famous carton (cardboard/stiff paper) metro ticket in favor of a more modern electronic ticketing system like that found in major metropolitan centers around the world. By 2021 the system should be updated across the réseau (network) to no longer require this charming little reminder of days (soon) past.
* There are a few spots where Paris’s famous rames de métro (metro trains) run above ground. Lines 1, 2, 5 and most notably 6 offer views of the city when they rise from the depths to travers sections of open air.
** Some of the more amusing station name changes include #Tweet (for Télégraphe), Apéro (for Opéra), Chatiment (for Crimée … a play on the French title of Crime and Punishment), and the name of the station Anvers … à l’inverse (upside down, since Anvers sounds like inverse).
*** The (in)famous expression Métro, boulot, dodo (Metro, work, sleep) sums up life for many a working Frenchman (and French woman!) in la Région parisienne (the Paris region).
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Image Credits: Tim Hildreth