The metro and the parisian cultural life

It is in the metro that Amélie meets Nino Quincampoix, in the famous movie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. In cinema, the metro is so important that a station in Paris is used only for filming.

The metro is a matter of cinema, but more broadly a matter of culture. During the 2015 Poets’ Spring, Victor Hugo’s lines decorated the trains:

Ceux qui vivent, ce sont ceux qui luttent ; ce sont

Ceux dont un dessein ferme emplit l’âme et le front.

Ceux qui d’un haut destin gravissent l’âpre cime.

Ceux qui marchent pensifs, épris d’un but sublime.

Ayant devant les yeux sans cesse, nuit et jour,

Ou quelque saint labeur ou quelque grand amour.

Which means:

Those who live are those who struggle; they are

Those whose soul and forehead are filled with a firm purpose.

Those who climb the bitter summit of a high destiny.

Those who walk pensively, in love with a sublime goal.

Having before their eyes unceasingly, night and day,

Or some holy labour or some great love.


This one, among others. For to begin one’s day in the subway is sometimes to begin it in poetry, in culture.

And you who are reading this, traveler of the B, of the 13, or whatever: have you never experienced an encounter, a discussion, a crazy story between these four walls, something worthy of a poem?

So, of course, life in the metro is not absolutely poetic. It is sometimes full of the darkest aspects of human shortcomings, taking advantage of anonymity almost as violently as on some websites. Angry emotions, unsolicited help, and sometimes more serious events occur in large numbers.

But you have to want it to not find the huge pile of culture of all kinds that is on the trains in the Ile-de-France. To you who take the metro, the RER, remember the best anecdote that happened to you there!

An anecdote

“An unprecedented anecdote happened to me on the subway. In January 2015, just after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

After a day filled with, among other things, thoughts related to these tragic events, I sat down at a square on line 13. In front of me, or almost, on the right, a woman. But a special woman: Florence Aubenas, former journalist at Libération, once, in my childhood, hostage for five months in Iraq. The woman whose human qualities impress almost more than her career.

After catching my breath I admitted to her that I recognized her, and began to ask her a few questions, about the situation, about what to do. Very quickly, Mrs. Aubenas resumed her position as a journalist, and began to ask me questions, as if my opinion mattered. After a few words exchanged, we both recognize that we don’t have much of an idea of what to do, me out of ignorance and her out of humility.

That in a place like the subway I could find myself the equal of a woman with such a stature, when I was barely fifteen years old.”

To discover another anecdote, Les voyages en train suggest you follow this link to a testimony:

Letter to the woman on the RER B who gave me back my faith in humanity