Living in a large European city teaches you many different things such as: get used to that 15 minute walk with heavy groceries, or, don't make eye contact with that scraggly looking group of youth, or even, be friends with your butcher.
The one thing I still haven't mastered since my year and a half in Lyon is What To Do On the Métro.
Public transportation is inevitable, even if I wanted to avoid the bus or the underground subway line I couldn't! You see, even with the fabulous bike share system and the potential to walk anywhere with my two feet- the métro is juste faster and easier.
Or is it?
In Lyon there are 4 lines of the underground Métro system, 2 lines of forniculars, 4 lines of over-ground tramway system, a multitude of electric buses and and ever more selection of bus lines. All information is available from the TCL Website.
Today's focus will be: The Underground Métro:
Line A, or the RED LINE goes from Perrache in the center to Vaulx-en-Valin la Soie (or whatever on the spelling) out on the East side of Lyon. This line utilizes the typical system, a dude sitting and driving it. However, this also causes some issues in regards to timing. The driver will sometimes wait at a stop, more than necessarily, probably picking his French teeth or laughing his French laugh. This wait makes us all uncomfortable, and everyone begins to be aware of time passing- watches are checked ever 20 seconds, feet start tapping with impatience...
Line B, or the BLUE LINE goes from Stade de Gerland to Charpennes. Basically a great line to avoid unless being transferred to the Centre Commercial de la Part-Dieu which is necessary when taking a train, doing Christmas shopping.. or even going to a Football Match (Stade de Gerland).
Line C, or the ORANGE LINE (really looks yellow, but I'm not picky) goes from Hôtel de Ville to La Croix Rousse. It's a really odd métro line, why do I say this? Because it resembles a sort of fornicular or cable car. Everything is in a sort of slanted angle, when on the métro you have to do a sort off lean forward in order to not fall on your neighbor. La Croix Rousse is up on a hill, so logic tells you the Métro is basically climbing a hill. Same as the RED LINE, the ORANGE LINE has a manual driver which switches every end stop, and takes at least 7 minutes to start up. But, a lot easier to take the métro than walk up the giant hills of the Croix Rousse.
Line D, or the GREEN LINE, goes from Gare de Vaise to Gare de Vénissieux. Neither of the Gares is a nice place to be, so at my advice I use the Green line to get closer to Ikea (in St. Priest), get to Vieux Lyon... and that's about it. Oh, word to the wise: This line is a-u-t-o-m-a-t-e-d! This means there is like a 5 minute passing period, if it's at the stop... RUN! Once the beeping starts, you better jump into the train otherwise you will be waiting an efficient 3 minutes for the next one.
What to Do On the Métro, and What NOT To Do
Getting on the métro can be a terrible experience for those unprepared. Between 4PM and 6PM every day there is a sudden flux of individuals all pressing to get home for dinner. Baguettes stick people in the bum, bags are shoved into your chest, and with the métros having a limit of people- well that disappears. If you want to catch a métro you must go in elbows first. Don't be afraid to push and jump into the craziness! So:
Rule #1: Elbows First.
Then you're on the métro, you have some posters glued along the side panels, lovely flourescent lights lining the ceiling. Most likely a smelly homeless man shoved away in the corner, smelling grotesquely like an ogre. There will probably be a group of hoodlums hanging in the corner and shouting to each other. Now the question is, where to go? If you have enough room to elbow through to a safe spot... In this case:
Rule #2: Find the Grandma.
So you've successfully gotten into the métro, situated yourself next to Grandma. One thing is clear from this moment,
Rule #3: Look Anywhere but Other People's Eyes, AKA Avoid Eye Contact
Look any where else, that poster you've read a million times, your iPhone game, your hang nails. Many French people will occupy themselves by chewing on their nails- if you want to avoid a terrible habit simple count the lines in the ceiling. It is difficult to find things to do on the métro, but everyone is in the same position.
Looking around, you'll notice how hard everyone is trying to look anywhere but in someone's eyes. On the métro, even though you're practically in your neighbor, it's as if we don't really exist in the same place.
Now, your stop is arriving...
Rule #4: Elbows Out to Exit the Métro
Don't let them French people get you stuck, just shout clearly, "excusez-MOI!" and elbow them.
Or you could always just get a year pass to Velo'V and bike it!