I was fortunate enough to spend several days in Paris recently, this was before all the disturbances began. This was not my first trip there and I felt reasonably comfortable trying to navigate leaving the airport and buying tickets for the subway system. A helpful gentleman working at the airport directed me to another type of ticket. This was good for 1 week and valid on subway, buses and trains throughout Paris. Would reasonably get me from the airport to our hotel and everywhere we wanted to tour.
So we happily purchased the tickets and proceeded to board the next train bound for the city center towards our hotel. About halfway there the train stopped and they announced something in French which I could not understand. Then required all of the passengers to disembark. That train left with a number of announcements happening. Another train sitting on the next track was beginning to fill up, so we thought with these great tickets let’s get on. A half hour later no movement and people starting to disembark. As a side note, it was raining the entire time but not cold enough to turn the rain to snow as it was when we landed.
We determined staying was not the best answer so we left the station to find a bus. It was going to take 2 buses, but that was OK since our passes covered it. Both buses were packed to the brim and standing room only with our luggage, but after a couple of hours we got there and checked in to the hotel.
Changed shoes, refreshed and no luggage to take along we set out. First stop was food and there were so many choices we just opted for the closest place. Cell phones are both a blessing and a curse and we used one to help navigate. Taking a subway to get to the Arc de Triomphe so we have a beautiful view of all of Paris. We again opted for a bus for a portion of the travel since we could see all the streets and decorations and the beautiful buildings.
Success. We arrive and see lots of people at the base of the Arc, then a band starts playing the French national anthem. We get to the base and see a very large military presence and lots of flowers by the eternal flame so something honoring or commemorating someone just happened. It is a lot to take in. Next the hike to the top, 11 flights of stairs. We see the Eiffel Tower all lit up with Christmas lights and the view is breathtaking.
Leaving we decide the subway is the best option and using our passes we go through the turn-style and towards our train. There are 3 people in street clothes asking to see everyone’s pass so we show them ours and the guy said where is your picture and takes it right out of my hand. I said what are you talking about, he said you needed to have a picture taken and put on the pass within 1 hour of purchase. First we were told about this. Upshot is he is looking for more than the purchase price of the ticket from each of us. I am getting louder and louder, this sounds like the biggest scam ever. I am not being friendly or polite or nice in any capacity. He is not convincing me. It takes all three of them non-stop talking , a French girl crying because she was grabbed also, me shouting about being robbed in front of everyone, they kept saying we will call the police and we said OK bring them here.
End of story we paid the outrageous fee. As I did curse their miserable lives to their faces, not good, and so out of character for me. Back at the hotel we go online and find out this is a common thing and has been going on for a while.
Next morning ignoring what they told us we ask the front desk about the picture and they direct us to a store nearby. Turns out the pictures are from a photo booth, but must be a very tiny size, so I now am the proud owner of 14 pictures I will never use. Whole situation really turned me off on going to France. Not a cheap transportation method, it will be a very long time before I go back, if ever. How sad.