Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Our Morning Commute

Tag along with us during our morning commute to school. View these short clips and you will see how well the girls have mastered this routine.

I am still working on getting over my insecurities about being the only metro passenger wearing the official California-mom-dropping-her-kids-off-at-school uniform. Sweats or workout clothes, hair in a ponytail, no make-up. It seems like I am the only one heading to the gym after drop-off. How very Bay Area of me.

First, we begin our commute right outside our building's entry door by heading into the Sully-Morland Metro station:

Two stops and five minutes later, we transfer at the Chatalet metro station which is a small city unto itself. It is always crowded here. And hot. And smelly. One of us usually gets stepped on or bumped into, but never on purpose. There are always a handful of performers and beggars here hoping to receive a handout (more on that in a future post). The girls are always eager to open the door by pushing the button that triggers the door to open. Oftentimes, they do this and then hop off while the train is still moving. Sounds dangerous, but it really is not:

The line we tranfer to at Chatalet is line 11. Chatalet is the starting point for this line so there is always a train waiting for us to board. Above the platform is a clock counting down the minutes until the train's departure. Ideally, we try to walk to the very front of the train as that puts us closest to the exit at our destination station. We don't always succeed, however, as  you'll see in this next clip. You'll  hear me say, "Get on," because I see that the clock is showing "00:00" which means that at any second, the doors will be closing. So we settle for mid-train today.

Three stops later, we arrive at the Arts et Metiers metro station. It is unlike any other station in that it reminds us of a submarine. I like the metallic burnt sienna colored walls. They hide the visible dirt and scum easily seen on the walls and ceilings at other stations.

Upon exiting this station, you will see Nola tossing her metro ticket into the trash can. She rides with a ticket as opposed to the pre-paid NaviGo card. This is because the NaviGo does not offer a child discount (9 and under) so it is cheaper for her to have the discounted tickets instead of the NaviGo. She is finally over her disappointment at not having a NaviGo like the rest of us. The reason that Nola throws her ticket away at our destination station is because we never know if, mid-route, we will run into Metro officials checking to make sure passengers have paid tickets or NaviGo cards. If caught without one, they fine you twenty euros. This happened to Soren two years ago after he had naively tossed his ticket after entering the station. Soren acted like the "dumb American" he was at the time and they let him off easy.

 The girls, fearing embarrassment,  made me promise that I would stop filming and put the camera away prior to reaching their school. In this next clip, you can see Nola's impatient look since we are one block away from school and I am still filming. But I just had to capture the crossing guards in action. Today, we happened upon them during a mellow moment. Usually, they are risking their lives for us and other pedestrians by stepping out into speeding oncoming traffic. The drivers do not slow down or stop until the last minute. And motorcycles, if they can squeeze by, will do so even if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk. So, even with their protection, we still proceed with great caution. And, it is with gratitude that each and every day I say a heartfelt, "Merci!" to these guys for braving the onslaught of crazy French drivers.

Thanks for coming along to school with us today. Now, off to the gym I go.  I may be the only one in sweats, but at least after my workout my B.O. will fit in nicely on the Metro.


  1. This is a great clip on how Parisian kids "commute" to school. It is so easy here to have "mom" take them door to door. Great experience for you all! Loved the pictures in the metro.

  2. Wow I love these videos. It is amazing to see what you guys have to do each day just to get to school! I think I'd have to home school the kids. That metro is packed. Don't people have cars over there?! The Europeans have no concept of personal space, yikes. But on a positive note, your girls look lovely and I am sure you do in your cute sweats! And I am going to be more appreciative of my slow crawl to work on the 405 since at least I am in my own, cozy, sweet smelling car ALONE. :)