When one is travelling on a budget, it means you have to plan your journey and destination. When I was in Paris, one of the form of common transport was the Metro. Well, I did travel around by Bus but at the end of the day, the Metro seem like a more convenient way to go. Cab was a no-no affair as the cost was an exorbitant charge for me.
What I would like to talk about to you would be things to look out for while taking the Metro. Basically, in Paris or other parts of Europe if you cant French well you gotta know how to get help in certain things. I just feel that coming to Paris for the second time, the Parisians are now more understanding and tend to be able to communicate in english a little better than my first trip here 3 years back.
At the Metro station, take note to only ask for help from the officers at the ticket stations. There may be people who wear badges (with the word Paris or some kind of tourist pass) and they will approach you to help you to buy your tickets from the machine. BEWARE! they are not legal, they are not supposed to do that and we do not know what kind of scam they are playing. Simply put, it could be a trap where they wanna know where you keep your wallet or they wanna receive a cut from the tickets or something like that.
Personally, I encountered such experience twice. A metro ride for one trip cost 1.70 Euros per person (regardless the distance within Paris city centre and zone). One guy approached both me and my friend who seem “touristy” enough and offered to buy the tickets from the machine for us, he chose the french language option and after a few clicks here and there on the screen the total came up to 16 Euros. I m like “wow! that escalated quickly”.
Without a bat of my eyelids, we proceed to the ticket office which was in fact just beside the machine, and said we needed tickets so he came out, shoo-ed the other guys (as in literally shoo-ed them) and went through the process of getting the Metro tickets for us on the same machine. That is where we learned that it will only cost us 1.70 Euros
Well, when doing test we need to do it more than twice right. So, from another station, we were approached by another lady and a guy who asked where we are going, after telling them the destination they clicked some details and BAM! my ticket will cost more than 30 Euros. Well woh and behold, I have seen enough so we just bought our 1.70 Euros ticket say thanks and made our way into the Metro.
Do beware of any group of people hanging around at the Metro and approaching you to offer “help”. Even if they have a badge which looks kind of official, if they do not have any uniform on, then please do not try your luck. It is easy to get proper help around: tourist office, ticket office, bus office, even the police station, if need be. If there is one thing that I learned from Paris, offering their help is never in their priority but if you approach the right people for help, they will be kind enough to do so. Thus never take those who come to you as “blessing” as it does not really work over there. Its better to take action to approach then to be approached.
Out of many instances where they may be syndicates to con you of your money, pick-pockets I would say this would really depend on your luck. However, we can always do our part to be more vigilant and not complacent especially when you are on a holiday.
As a special note, always remember to buy travel insurance to cover yourself and your items, I mean…you never know.