Paris in a less romantic light

Travel Editor Amy Harris discusses her not-so-good experience in Paris

Amy Harris
18th March 2019
Image: Tbel Abuseridze

Whenever you search and read up on tips for travelling to Paris the one piece of advice that constantly pops up is about scammers and pickpockets loitering around popular attractions, but one thing I never read was “expect to be fined €100 if you have the wrong metro ticket".

When it came to leaving Paris to fly back to England, we had to get the metro and RER to Charles du Gaulle airport. We went to Gare de Cité Universitaire as we knew we could buy our tickets there and could also catch the RER B train to the airport. Throughout the trip we had used the ticket machines at the metro stations to purchase our tickets, so we knew that the machines were reliable and took card, as we had money but preferred to use our bank cards instead. Due to the fact we had purchased tickets when we arrived in Paris 5 days before we knew what tickets we needed to cover our journey through Paris and to the outskirts and thankfully the machine translated to English as well so it explained everything perfectly.

Accordingly, we went to one of the machines to buy our tickets, but then for some reason the machine (which was a card only machine) wouldn’t accept the bank card which we had been using all week and hadn’t had problems with. So, instead of trying again we joined the queue to get a ticket from the ticket office so I could speak to an actual member of staff.

When we joined the queue, this man approached me and asked if I needed any help. He had a lanyard on and a card with some credentials, he looked friendly but I was more comfortable getting a ticket from the kiosk so I could explain to them exactly where we were going. While I was waiting the man kept asking if I was okay and told me he could help me with my issue so, he took me back over to the machine and I went on to explain how it wasn’t taking our bank card and we needed tickets to get to the airport.

At first, he watched as we showed him that our card wasn’t being accepted and he then went on to offer buying the tickets for us using the card he had with him and we could just give him the money for the tickets. I responded that it was fine that I would buy my ticket from the kiosk, but he continued to ask where I needed to go and before I could say anything else, he had chosen the ticket, put his bank card in the machine and paid €35 for our RER train tickets. We had paid €35 for our train tickets when we came into Paris on the Saturday, so I didn’t see an issue giving him the money as when I looked to check the ticket it looked like the ticket we had used before. We thanked him and moved towards the metro gates. Obviously, the ticket let me through the gate as it was a legitimate ticket however I noticed as I looked back to the area he had been stood and the guy had left and was nowhere to be seen. However, I just carried on as we needed to get to the airport.

We got on the RER B train towards the airport which was going to be an hour-long journey and settled down. For the whole journey no ticket inspector came around and checked our tickets but just as we were about to come into the airport station at Charles du Gaulle the ticket inspector came around.

This is when the problem occurred. He looked at our tickets, shook his head and told us that we had the wrong tickets.

We tried explaining to him that we had asked for the ticket to take us to the airport and this is what the gentleman had given us, but he just replied that there was nothing he could do, that he would have to fine us as that was the procedure. So, the three of us were fined a €100 for having the wrong ticket and thankfully we had €100 on the bank card if not we would have had an even bigger issue to face. Therefore, whether the guy that gave us the ticket wasn’t even a member of staff or he just picked the wrong ticket I’m not sure, but I left Paris €100 out of pocket. From this experience one suggestion I would recommend to those travelling to Paris is be aware of who is around you, but also buy your tickets from a ticket office where you can speak to an actual member of staff and be given a ticket that won’t get you a €100 fine.


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