Paris Travelling - Contents of life

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For a person, who comes from a city like Pune, any kind of public transportation is good, if not fantastic or superb. Pune, is a place where you do not see a bus if you wait less than one hour at bus stop, a place where you spend more on autorickshaw than on any intercity travel like Pune-Bombay, a place where shared rickshaw means trying to share a 4 person vehicle among minimum 10 if you are lucky, a place where you might faint if ought to spend half an hour on railway platform. Pune is a place where people prefer personal vehicle to travel from corner to corner of city and avoid public vehicles for above said reasons. It has the maximum number of vehicles 25 lakhs (including 2 and wheelers), not just in India but in whole of Asia, or may be in the world.
So, for a person, who come out after receiving such a rigorous training and has attained such expertise in travelling in adverse condition and carry lot of patience to wait to transportation, anything even slightly better is great. I have actually left using these public transports so many years back that if a situation arise where I am compelled to use it, I prefer to walk or start thinking of a friend’s home nearby whose vehicle I can borrow. If such a public transport phobic person arrives at a place like Paris which is known to have not good but very good public transportation, imagine his situation.
When I came to Paris, in not time I was introduced to public transportation. The Paris airport Charles de Gaulle is quite far from the Paris city. There are two ways to reach your destination from airport. First, if somebody comes to pick you up. This normally doesn’t happen. The people here are very smart. They very well know that airport is very far away and it makes one spend lot of Euros from their pocket. So they sophisticatedly plan to move out of city for just that one day and make you get introduced to public transport. Well, I don’t blame them because even I realised that it is a bit heavy burden on pocket as well as time. Just to share with you, I learnt this lesson quickly and in fact implemented on it when one of my friend Mr. V was arriving in Paris a month later. So, just a tip, don’t get surprised, if your host from Paris has to coincidentally move out of city the same day you arrive.
Anyway, coming back to the topic, I had to take train to reach the place where I stay. Although my host had given me all the instructions, still you get apprehensive when in a new land with no knowledge of language. But I must say, it went down rather smoothly with me taking right train to reach the destination without asking a single person a single question.

The trains which commute in the city and the outskirts are known as RER (RĂ©seau Express RĂ©gional, meaning Regional Express Network).

Now, from my experience, do not try to ask about RER with your English pronunciation. R here is pronounced in way different manner and it might take as good as 5 minutes for a Frenchman to realise that you are asking about RER station. You might end up leaving 2 trains in the mean time. So, either learn French or search yourself. I use both the methods as per my calibre.

I found RER a rather convenient option because of its frequency and its coverage area. It offers you a good option to reach from one corner to another of Paris in least possible time. Most of time, it’s not crowded, and so you get good seat and chance to get quick nap. This makes you freshen up by the time you reach destination.

Moreover RER stations are very well connected to other transportation facilities that make commutation even better. Having praised RER so much, I must point out one negative aspect of it. To my surprise, I was introduced to strikes in different unions in RER within the first week of arrival. Yes, RER strikes are quite common and people here are very much used to it. But, Unlike Indian strikers, these people do care about passengers at the same time and in spite of strike you see RER running on rail. In such situations the frequency decreases, crowd increases and then it sometimes remind me the very old days I spent in Pune bus.

But thanks to these strikes, I was introduced to another powerful transportation medium that is bus. Bus transportation is equally good and help many people commute daily. The buses are well maintained with air conditioning facilities. The bus stops are normally small in size. One of the walls would have the daily timing for all the buses stopping there, the maps that these buses follow and a digital clock showing real time and the timing of next expected bus. I was surprised when I saw a bus arriving at the bus stop at sharp time. Till then, I had a feeling that following timing might be a case for trains, but for bus, impossible. I saw it happening here.

Other than this, Paris also has a web of metro trains which run with in the city. There is a very complex web including RERs and metro. One might get totally lost realizing its vastness, but thanks to the information available at every corner that even a newbie with no French language base can roam around easily.

I am not yet done because still one more mode of transport is left to talk about. They are the Trams. One must take Tram at least once in Paris. I found Trams as the most sophisticated mode of transport among all four talked about above. I do not want to compare this Tram with the one running in Kolkota. I can think of only similarity in two and that is the name “ Tram”.
Having said that all these transportation modes are very well interconnected, one questions arises, “how are the modes to use these modes are maintained?”. Even that is very smooth. You can either buy one ticket that you can use on all these modes, or on selected ones. Or you can buy a monthly Novigo pass to move around anywhere, anyway, any number of times. Just want to share, the protocol I was thinking about to exist Pune buses to reduce arguments between conductor and passengers on money matters, I actually see it here existing. So, I wasn’t thinking impossible.

With all these transportation facilities, I doubt anybody would think or need private taxis for their service. But just for information, they do exist here, but hardly seen running on the streets.

It’s getting too long, but I cannot end the post without the mention of TGV, Eurostar and the internal cycle system in Paris. To mention in one liner, TGV is intercity mode of transport that has engine running fastest in the world.

You can take Eurostar to travel to Belgium or to England via undersea Eurotunnel.

You can take bicycle parked on the streets with the help of Novigo pass and ride around for very cheap.
I am not writing much about them since I haven’t used them yet.
Now I am left in awe when I see people here sometimes complaining about the bad status of transportation and compare it with one in Germany. This on one side makes me anxious to visit Germany to experience one the best transportations in world but it also makes me nervous when I realise that I finally have to travel on the old roots of my hometown.
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