Under the Paris Sky: My Trip to France - Part 2 Toilets and Metro (CORRECTED)

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Jul 5, 2015 23:04
Continued from Part 1
When exploring in Paris, one of the things I had to keep in mind was a toilet. In Paris, you’d better use it whenever there is one, even if there is a queue. (And there is usually a queue.)

This is particularly important for Japanese, who are accustomed to decent restrooms at every railroad and metro station. You could even rush into the nearest convenience store, in case of emergency. There is always one that customers can use.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but in general, Paris didn’t seem generous in terms of toilets. In my observation, restrooms were scarce in the museums relative to the number of visitors and it seemed like they were in a "hidden" place.

Instead, Paris provides public restrooms on the streets. Fortunately or unfortunately, I never had a chance to use one of these box-shaped public toilets situated in the middle of the street.

I’m not sure if Paris is a particularly tourist-friendly city. I mean, some metro stations didn’t have an elevator, and I often saw people (not many though) smoking on the train platforms or streets. I’m not complaining. Rather, I think Paris shouldn't do anything for the sake of convenience for tourists from all over the world if it has to compromise its charm.

The metro was indispensable for exploring the city. In the end, I never got very good at using the metro route map while I was there. I guess nowadays many tourists use smartphones to find the route. My tools were a traditional metro route map made of paper, plus a guidebook. I always had trouble finding the station on the map and figuring out at which stations to change the lines. Maybe my route map was too small. (If you know an effective way to find a route quickly, I appreciate your suggestions.) Still, riding on a metro among locals was thrilling and even liberating. I felt myself being like a quasi-Parisienne.

In some metro stations, there were street performers playing the violin or other instruments. Some were amazing musicians, but apparently not all of them were. At one station, a woman carrying something like a CD player got on my car. As soon as she stepped in, she played on the CD player, grasped the microphone, and began singing “Bésame Mucho.” It was very loud. The passengers in the car didn’t seem to appreciate this karaoke-madame. Being ignored, she got out after a few stations. I was relieved when she got off, but part of me thought that it is people like her who give the city its unique flavor. Anyway, that was another memorable snapshot for me.

The “bluntness” of the Paris metro was also impressive. Except for a few lines, no announcements were made for the next stop. You may wonder why this is worth noting, unless you know what the metros are like in Japan. Parisians would freak out at how loud, frequent and instructive the announcements are in metros in Tokyo.

I liked the way Paris did it. At every station, the doors bluntly shut with just one buzzer. No music, no instructions, no announcements were given. This is how it should be. I felt like I was treated as an adult.

To be continued in Part 3:http://lang-8.com/997612/journals/181499598106925612007463160717424197781
This entry has been corrected and revised accordingly. Thank you for your correction.
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Original before correction:
Continued from Part 1
When exploring in Paris, one of the things I should keep in mind was a toilet. In Paris, you’d better use it wherever there is one, even if there is a queue. (And there is usually a queue.)

This is particularly important for Japanese who are accustomed to decent restrooms at every railroad and metro station. You could even rush into the nearest convenience store, in case of emergency. There is always one that customers can use.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but in general, Paris didn’t seem generous in terms of toilets. In my observation, restrooms were scarce in the museums relative to the number of visitors and it seemed like they were in a "hidden" place.

Instead, Paris provides public restrooms on the streets. Fortunately or unfortunately, I never had a chance to use this box-shaped public toilet situated in the middle of the street.

I’m not sure if Paris is a particularly tourist-friendly city. I mean some metro stations didn’t have an elevator and I often saw people (not many though) smoking on the train platforms or streets. I’m not complaining. Rather, I think Paris shouldn't do anything for the sake of convenience for tourists from all over the world if it has to compromise its charm.

Metro was indispensable to explore the city. In the end, I was unable to be good at using the metro route map while I was there. I wonder nowadays if tourists use the smartphone to find the route. My tool was a traditional metro route map made of paper, plus a guidebook. I always had trouble finding the station on the map and figuring out which stations to change the lines. Maybe my route map was too small. (If you know an effective way to find the route quickly, I appreciate your suggestions.) Still, riding on a metro among locals was thrilling and even liberating. I felt myself being a quasi-Parisienne.

In some metro stations, there were street performers playing the violin or other instruments. Some were amazing musicians, but apparently not all of them were. At one station, a woman carrying something like a CD player got on my car. She turned on the player and started singing with a microphone, and it was loud. The passengers in the car didn’t seem to appreciate this karaoke-madam. Being ignored, she got out after a few stations. I was relieved when she got off but a part of me thought that people like her may serve as spice of the city. Anyway, that was another memorable snapshot for me.

The “bluntness” of Paris metro was also impressive. Except a few lines, no announcements were made for the next stop. You may wonder why this is worth noting, unless you know what the metros are like in Japan. Parisians would freak out how loud, frequent and instructive the announcements are in metros in Tokyo.

I liked the way Paris did. At every station, the doors bluntly shut with just one buzzer. No music, no instructions, no announcements were given. This is how it should be. I felt like I was treated as an adult.

To be continued in Part 3:
パリの空の下 ― フランス旅行記 パート2
パート1からの続き
パリの街を散策する際に頭に入れておくべきことのひとつはトイレである。パリでトイレを見かけたら必ず入っておいた方がいい。たとえ行列ができていても(そして大抵の場合は行列ができている)。

このことは特に、鉄道・地下鉄のすべての駅にまずまずのトイレがあることに慣れている日本人にとっては重要だ。日本では、緊急の場合は近くのコンビニに駆け込むことだってできる。そこには必ずお客のためのトイレが設置されている。

間違っていたら訂正して頂きたいのだが、概してパリはトイレに関しては気前が良くないように見える。私の見たところでは、美術館などのお手洗いは訪問者の数に比較して非常に少ない上、「隠れた」場所にあるようだ。

その代りに路上に公衆トイレが設置されている。幸運というべきか、不運というべきか、私は歩道の真ん中に設置されているこの箱型の公衆トイレを使う機会は一度もなかった。

パリがとりたてて観光客に親切な街どうかは私にはわからない。つまり、メトロの一部の駅ではエレベーターがないし、そう多くはないものの、鉄道のプラットホームや歩道では、タバコを吸っている人もよく見かけた。不平を言っているのではない。むしろ私は、パリは世界中からやって来る観光客の利便性のためにその魅力を犠牲にするようなことは、すべきではないと思っている。

パリの街を見て回る上でメトロは欠かせない。結局、滞在中最後までメトロ路線図を上手く使えるようにはならなかった。昨今の観光客はスマホでルートを調べるのだろうか。私のツールは昔ながらの紙でできた路線図とガイドブックだった。地図上で駅を見つけ、乗換駅を調べるのには毎回苦労した。私の路線図が小さすぎたのかも知れない。(ルートを素早く調べることができる効果的な方法を知っている人がいたら教えて欲しい。)それでも、地元の人たちに交じってメトロに乗るのはわくわくし、開放感すら感じた。まるで「エセ」パリジャンヌになったような気分を味わえた。

メトロの駅構内では、バイオリンなどの楽器を演奏しているストリート・パフォーマーを見かけることもあった。素晴らしい音色を奏でる演奏家もいる一方、すべてがそうだというわけではなかった。ある駅で、一人の女性がCDプレーヤーのようなものを持って私の乗っている車輛に乗り込んできた。乗り込むと同時にその女性は、プレーヤーのボタンを押しマイクを持って「Bésame mucho」を歌い始めた。大音量だった。周囲の乗客たちはこのカラオケ・マダムを歓迎してはいなかった。無視された形になり、その女性は2,3駅のった後に降りて行った。下車してくれてほっとした反面、彼女のような人は街のスパイスの役割を果たしているのかもしれない、とちょっと思った。とにかく、私にとっては思い出に残る一コマとなった。

パリのメトロの「無愛想さ」も印象的だった。一部の路線を除き次の駅のアナウンスはない。どうしてそんなことをわざわざ書くのかと思うかもしれない。日本の地下鉄を知らない人であれば。パリに住む人が、東京の地下鉄の、騒々しくおせっかいで何度も繰り返されるアナウンスを聞いたら、仰天するに違いない。

私はパリ式が気に入った。どの駅でも短いブザーが鳴った途端にドアはピシャリと閉じられる。音楽もおせっかいな指示もアナウンスもない。これこそあるべき姿だ。パリのメトロでは大人として扱われる。

パート3に続く:http://lang-8.com/997612/journals/181499598106925612007463160717424197781