Friday, March 09, 2007


Back when I lived in Boston, one of my French friends at the Alliance Francaise used to love to spout comedienne Sylvie Joly's sketches. One of my favorite lines was her portraying a very aristo-bourgeoise Parisienne, saying, "Ma chere, mon Jag-u-ar est en panne, figure toi. Donc j'ai pris le metro. Tu connais?"

Translation: "Well, my dear, my Jag is in the shop. Sooo, I had to take the subway to get here. Ever heard of it?"

Unlike Sylvie Joly's character, I frequent Paris public transportation, with delight. It is not only a favorite but also a source of constant awe and inspiration. Paris RATP rides run the gamut from fast and efficient to majestic and noteworthy. I like them all, for the most part. But what I really adore is the adrenaline rush that one can get in various circumstances. I have a bit o' the ADD in me and we attention-deficit types rely on adrenaline rushes where chemical ones have been shunned.

Here are my favorite rides to date in Paris:

1. Metro # 14 The newest line. Get on the front car and sit where there would normally be a driver (machiniste) and watch through the windshield as the train rockets through the tunnels. Better than Space Mountain.

2. Ride the #69 bus as it enters the impossibly tight arch under the Louvre between rue de Rivoli and the courtyard of the Louvre. Every time I'm convinced that the bus just won't fit. Every time it squeezes through. Wild.

3. On the # 10 line to Boulogne, at the Mirabeau station there is a wonderful out-of-body experience. As the westbound train track rises up as you leave the station, you feel as though you are floating above yourself and looking down upon the passengers waiting at the opposite platform below.

4. The absolute adrenaline rush of hearing the blaring of the bells sounding the imminent closing of the doors of the metro -- any line -- and clackclackclack running through the station and jumping inside the car just as the doors are closing. Life just doesn't get much more thrilling. Of course, I never was one for roller coaster rides. So maybe i don't know the true meaning of thrill. This does it for me.

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