Saturday, February 28, 2009

25 Things I Love About Paris: #16

16. The 63 bus

If you're a tourist in Paris, buying a two-day ticket on a hop on, hop off bus for 24 euros will orient you to the city's geography plus give you a front row seat on all its great sights. For much much less, you can ride the 63 bus from Gare de Lyon to Porte de la Muette and see a lot of the same stuff. Of course, there's no commentary in 27 different languages but the view: as the natives say, "oh la la!"

On its route west from Gare de Lyon, the 63 passes by Jardins des Plantes and the stunning modern Institut du Monde Arabe, winds its way through the Latin Quarter, into the heart of Saint Germain with the imposing Saint Sulpice, by Le Bon Marche in the 7th arrondissement, and then along the quai of the Seine from the Assemble Nationale (with views across the river to Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries) to the Pont de l'Alma. Traversing the Seine, the bus goes by the memorial to journalists above the spot where Princess Diana was killed and up Avenue President Wilson to Trocadero with its splendid views of the Eiffel Tower. Then it's down Avenue Georges Mandel and Henri Martin through the stately elegance of the 16th arrondissement, ending up at the entrance to the Bois de Boulogne.

For art lovers, the route takes you past multiple museums -- the Cluny, site of former Roman baths and home to an impressive collection of medieval art and artifacts, the city of Paris's Musee d'Art Moderne, Asian treasures at the Musee Guimet, and multiple venues at Palais de Chaillot including the recently renovated Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine and Musee de la Marine.

Buses can be intimidating for first-timers since the stops and routes aren't as obvious as metro stations. But they take the same tickets as the subway and transfers within an hour and a half are free. So buy a carnet (10 pack) of tickets and hop on and off with abandon. Or ride from one end of the line to the other. For 1.60 euro for a single ticket, it's a steal.


Starman said...

Ligne 63 is the one with which I encountered a strange phenomenon. An elderly couple was on the bus when I go on. When I got to my stop, I got off but they did not. Yet, there they were sitting there waiting for the same next bus as I. Very spooky

Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl said...

I love your site! Like so many, I dream of living in Paris and through your site I can do that for a while,

Ksam said...

I absolutely love taking the bus because of the great views - I only take the metro when I absolutely have to! (But then again, I'm lucky in the fact that I work from home, so I don't ever "need" to be anywhere in a hurry - buses *do* tend to be slower than the metro).

One note I wanted to make for readers is that you if you buy or use a ticket in a bus, you can only make transfers to other buses. It won't work if you try to put it in a metro terminal. You can however go from the metro to a bus - you just need to show the driver your ticket upon entering.

Anne said...

Cheryl: Welcome and enjoy!

Ksam: Thanks for pointing out the fact that you can't transfer from bus to metro on one ticket. I'm so spoiled with my Navigo integrale and enjoy hopping on and off with abandon.

Starman said...

Oh, one other thing you might mention. A lot of lines do not run on the weekend, so if you've got something planned, be sure to check the schedule. Also, you have to beware of manifs that may interrupt the service of your line.

Marc Thibault said...

Anne: Congratulations on your great fortune to be living in Paris. I know you cherish most days in the City of Light. Your story of the 63 Bus is a great example and prompts another story about the 63 - one of romance and beauty. First the romance. As you know, the Paris bus system has a very long and, for the most part, glorious history. My story begins in the 1930's when my parents were both young French language students at the Sorbonne, my Dad from outside Boston, and my Mom from NYC. One day in class, early in the term, my Dad became smitten with a beautiful Irish lass who walked in and took a seat. He struck up a conversation after class and soon was courting her. The 63 Bus was his "vehicle". Being truly chivalrous, he would escort her back to her apartment where she lived with a French family. Now the beauty. In those days, and into the 1960's and beyond, when I was a student at the then American College in Paris, the 63 had an open "porch" on the back like a small balcony, where the ticket taker stood before people climbed inside the bus to take a seat. It was big enough that 3 or 4 people would ride in the open air, an especially inviting perch if the weather was obliging. Imagine, one could watch, unobstructed, the glorious beauty of Paris unfold right before your eyes as the 63 coursed through the streets, passing along some of the most inspiring sights in the urban world. I mourn the loss of the "balcony" but revel in the continuation of the world’s love affair with Paris. Thank you for sharing your stories. I plan on reading regularly.
PS My parents married in NYC in 1940, raised 6 children over a 43 year marriage while both enjoyed long and successful careers as French teachers. As children, our first trip to Paris was in 1963, when my parents led a group of adult students to Paris to study at the Sorbonne for the summer. We were all smitten with the city. That feeling continues today for our children and grandchildren. As one great result, my three sisters all have had long careers as French teachers. Paris will always been an inspiration to ours and now your family. Keep up the story telling!

Anne said...

Marc: What an incredible story. Thanks so much for sharing it. I knew it was special; now it's even more so.

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