Paris Métro Etiquette

The Paris RATP has just published a wonderfully illustrated 32-page etiquette guide, the Manuel de savoir-vivre à l’usage du voyageur moderne (Manual of Good Manners for the Modern Traveler), about how to behave on the city’s metros because of the perception the French are rude — a hotly contested subject. This online guide, consisting of twelve rules, is presented in a whimsical and compelling manner. And yes, if people actually adopt them, it will make metro riding in the City of Light more pleasant. The book is a compilation of questions generated from the public and covers four categories: Helpfulness, courtesy, manners and politeness.

Here are its main points. But, please understand, some of the puns may be lost in translation.

What to do on the platform:
• Be courteous: Recognize that the huge sign of the large crossed out cigarette isn’t pop art. Rather, it means no smoking.
• Be helpful: Help tourists wearing Burmuda shorts who are holding a metro map and pulling at their hair.
• Be polite: Don’t talk on cell phones since it’s annoying and makes you unbearable.
• Be helpful: Hold the exit door for the person behind you. In life, never pass on the chance to come across a pretty glance.
• Be polite: Use your handkerchief and not just to wave goodbye on the platform.
• Be helpful: Take an old lady’s bag…and return it to her with a smile when you reach the top of the stairs.

On board:
• Have manners: Share your new musical tastes on your social networks. Today, you can express yourself in silence.
• Be polite: Say hello to the driver, whether it’s a man or a woman.
• Be courteous: Don’t stare at a female rider even if she has piercing eyes.
• Be courteous: Don’t start a duel with the knight who accidentally steps on your foot.
• Have manners: On the really hot days, play penguin and keep your arms at your sides. Hold onto the bottom of the pole and not the top.
• Have manners: Don’t confuse the metro with the bathroom even if they both have tiles on the walls.

All of these suggestions may seem self-evident, but apparently they’re not. The real question is whether or not they’ll work, or if this is a PR attempt at improving the city’s image. After all, this guide is only in French so it’s not targeting visitors, many of whom could profit from a refresher course in manners.


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