What You Can and Cannot Look at While Riding the Paris Metro

There are very strict social rules when you ride the metro in Paris.

It is your responsibility to know and follow them. The rules are not posted anywhere. I’m not sure where they came from. Maybe just decades of social peer pressure. LOL!

After riding the metro in Paris to and from work every day for two weeks, I have observed (as an outsider) that there are rules of social etiquette that govern what you can and cannot look at while in a carriage.

Following is a list of what you CAN look at while riding the metro in Paris (or probably any large metropolis, for that matter)

The insides of your eyelids: It is acceptable to sleep or doze off. Presumably, we all stayed up way too late drinking with friends the night before, so any extra shut-eye is a welcome relief. Jarring stops will awake you anyway.

Your book or magazine: Literature is the third great pastime is Paris (after smoking and drinking); use your time wisely to catch up on the latest literary tomes. Parisians take their books very seriously.

Your phone: Especially amongst millennials, staring at your phone is a given. messaging your friends, keeping up on the latest gossip, etc. No one goes anywhere or does anything without their mobile.

The map of metro stops: Ok, this one will peg you as a tourist, but it is acceptable to look at the map of the metro stops posted inside each carriage.

Now, what you CANNOT look at…

Under no circumstances should you ever look someone in the eye for more than two seconds!

… Big no no! I haven’t tried it but I’m sure something horrible will immediately happen to anyone who does. I’m really not even sure how I how this, but I do. Everyone does. It is innate.

Your Turn: What strange social habits have you observed as an outsider in your non-native environment? Share your comments on the blog! I would love to hear from you.

Au Revoir!


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