Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Word to the Wise

I'm assuming that all you readers out there in Internetland are scrupulously honest and would never jump a turnstile or push in behind someone on the Paris métro. But those darn little white tickets do have a way of getting lost once you get in the system.

For the most part, you don't need the ticket to get out but hang onto those suckers until you exit. Because you never know when you'll turn the corner and there will be half a dozen green blazered RATP agents ready to make sure you're completely legit. There's a hefty fine if you don't have a ticket and they'll make you pay on the spot too. They always work in teams so there's no escaping, unless you turn around and head back the way you came from. (And believe me, I've seen people doing that.)

Controls on suburban trains (whether RER or the SNCF's Transilien) seem less frequent and my guess there are plenty of freeloaders since many of these trains can be boarded without going through a turnstile first. The same goes for the so-called Grand Lignes (intercity rail service); on our late October trip to the southwest, we were four hours into a five hour ride before anyone checked our tickets. I'm sure there are folks who get a thrill from beating the man; personally I'd rather ride the rails with a clear conscience.

A contrôleuse checking tickets for passengers leaving Gare St. Lazare headed to La Defense and points west.


Anonymous said...

I was in Paris in Sept and I got fined at a checkpoint at the Bastille station, 25 Euro. I had dropped my ticket after going through the turnstyle and didn't go back for it. Apparently the fine would have been larger but I had three unused tickets in my purse. Just didn't have the one I came in with. If I had known what the uniformed people were doing I probably would have headed another way.

debbie in toronto said...

those silly little white tickets were the bane of my stay in Paris..they usually never worked and I never could figure out if it was insert facing up or facing down..once and for all what is it?
up or down?

Shelli and Gene said...

I never realized that my husband used to toss them into the nearest trashbag once through the entry, until one day we were stopped. No amount of arguing would help and he had to fork over 25E right then and there. It would have been more except that he had the rest of his carnet on him to prove he wasn't a habitual criminal.

That was not an appropriate time to tell him I thought everyone knew you had to hold on to them until out of the system. Apparently not everyone, so good idea to warn your readers.

Thank goodness for the Passe Navigo.

Starman said...

In all my years in Paris, I've only once ever had my ticket checked and that was on Tram Ligne 3. I had a monthly pass at the time. But there were many time the pass would not work and I pushed in behind someone else. More often than not, they would hold the gate open for me to get through.

Eli said...

was in a metro once when the inspectors got on - at the time I had a habit of just throwing the ticket into my (rather large!) bag - I think it was 20 'nons' before I found the right one. I know put it into my pocket and bin it after I leave.

Found that its best not to keep a carnet too close to the mobile as that seems to stop them working (same with the London passes!).

In Switzerland not one train or metro ticket was checked and no automatic barriers whilst in Belgium every train has an inspector on it!

Adam said...

You don't have to pay immediately as you cannot be expected to have the money available and you also have the right to contest the fine. The problem is that if you don't pay immediately the fine goes from €25 to €35.

For tourists though, it is theoretically possible to not pay the fine and say you want to contest, then escape from the country without paying anything. Of course, you may have problems the next time you come back!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I guarded my little white ticket..whilst over Paris a few months ago.

I also had an added bonus of it working for longer than the 5 days...don't know why, but it last me my whole trip of nearly 3 weeks :-)

Jeannie said...

I guess I was luckier than most who have posted. One late evening in May, my beloved and I were stopped at l'Etoile, and asked for our tickets. Mine was bent and wouldn't read. I was getting the lecture from the inspector about bent tickets, and at the same time a lecture from my beloved, which made me really mad. The inspector took mercy on me and let us continue on to our connection. We also had the experience earlier that evening of a couple of tickets that didn't work. It seems you must always have a few more tickets on hand than you anticipate needing.

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