While Paris is famous for the Louvre & the Eifel Tower, it also has a world-class metro system featuring 300 stations & 16 lines, covering 10×10km of central Paris. What is not accessible by metro, is serviced by bus or bicycle – including Paris’s Velib bike-sharing system, with 200,000 bicycles & 1800 docking stations. There is simply no reason to own a car in Paris... Despite the assumed freedom of the car, I prefer hoping on & off the bus, metro or train & continuing by foot or bicycle. Whatever I explore, it is entirely my own, based on my own two feet – the ultimate version of freedom. And, you never know what you will stumble upon… Public transport also has an entertainment factor. This includes buses & trams dressing themselves up for the holidays in Amsterdam; puppet show performances on the metro in Brussels, Barcelona or Paris; “No Pants Day” on the New York City subway – now 12 years running; or the opportunity to enjoy a draft beer on the train to Berlin or Geneva – never having to worry about a DD (designated driver) when taking the bus, train or metro.
My favorite feature of the metro/ subway station though, is the musical performances one can encounter: sometimes by professionals (such as world-famous violinist Joshua Bell who played for 45 minutes as part of a social experiment in the Washington DC metro), sometimes by amateurs, sometimes by a single musician or an entire orchestra. When I have time, I stop and listen… I don’t recall ever having a live band perform in any car in which I have ridden. This gypsy band in the Paris Metro was one of the best performances I have seen – and confirms my appreciation for the surprise encounters of public transport.