Well, they are not really police, but that is what I call them–they are actually employees of the Paris Metro system, who go out to do random checks to make sure everyone is buying the correct tickets, when they use the subway/metro. I have seen many people (especially young people) who will slide in behind someone with a ticket or even hop over the stiles to avoid buying a ticket, so I understand their need to do these random checks.
My 1st week here in Paris I bought a book of 10 (not really a book–just 10 tickets, but that is what they call it), that were good for one ride including transfers anywhere WITHIN Paris (zones 1 & 2) on the metro or the RER (the RER is a metro train that is express–far less stops and moves faster–the team used the RER to get to the office every weekday, because it was MUCH faster than taking the metro!), PLUS coming and going from La Defense (in zone 3–which is where our hotel is located, but ONLY by metro. This worked out fine for my 1st week of exploring–we (there was another team mates with exploring with me during the 1st 2 weeks) just made sure we ONLY used the metro. The 2nd week, we decided to buy the 1 week pass which gave us the same privileges, except it also included the RER, but ONLY WITHIN Paris, except we could get on and off as often as we wanted–unlimited for the week. To save confusion, we continued to ONLY use the metro. Our husbands & the other team mates had purchased the 5 zone weekly pass in order to be able to get to the office which was on the other side of Paris, in the next zone, which gives them unlimited use in 5 zones all week. Sounds simple enough, right–just stay only on the metro!
After the other wife left, I decided I wouldn’t go out as much, so I just bought another set of 10 tickets–then for this weekend, Jon & I knew we wanted to go to some other areas together, and he wanted me to be able to use the RER, so we decided to buy a book of 10 that included the RER & La Defense, ASSUMING that would be for all 5 zones. Yesterday, we decided I would use my tickets to go join Jon at the office and we would go to Disney Paris for the evening–only going to the Downtown Disney part to enjoy some shopping and have dinner. I was to meet him at the Paul’s Bakery at the entrance/exit of the RER station called Noisey Le Grand, so I figured, that is easy enough to remember–just remember that I was the Noisey station, and Jon had told me to make sure the board overhead had the Noisey Le Grand station was lit up, because it only stops there on every other train. So, I check for the light and it is there, and & get onto the train–then I realize there are TWO Noisey stations (the next stop was Noisey Champs)–which one did he say? I decided he had probably said the 1st one, so I got off there.
When I got to the turn stiles I put my ticket back in (I remembered I would need it again to get out) and it didn’t work! I was confused, and turned around to look for someone to ask why my ticket didn’t work and was greeted by one of the metro police, who pointed me to another one (who was a woman). She looked at my ticket and said, “This ticket does not work for here–it is for La defense, not here, so you will have to pay a 3o euro penalty” – and she meant NOW! I complained to her that I did not know it didn’t work here, I thought it was for all zones on the RER, and her response was “It is the same for everyone!” I told her they should make it more clear, because I did not understand–could I just turn around and go back to the zones where it was good, and she said, “No, it is the same for everyone!” (This seemed to be one of the only sentences she knew in English…). I told her I did not have 30 euros in cash and she said, “Credit card!” I hesitated for a moment, because I was not happy about having to pay a “penalty” for something I did not understand–it was not like I was a person who had jumped the stiles, or squeezed in behind another person–I truly thought I had the correct ticket! She continued to wait for my credit card, so I pulled it out and handed it to her, but for some reason (still not sure why) my credit card would not work, and she said, “It did not work, I need another credit card”. I knew that my other card would probably not work either, because it was for my old account that I used when I was working and now only had about $20 in it, but she was persisting that I give her another card, so I did–and it didn’t work either, so she asked me for another card! I explained to her that I had no other cards, and I only had 5 euros in cash, so I didn’t know what to do. she asked for another card, & I repeated, “I don’t know what to do–I have no other cards, and I only have 5 euros cash! I was meeting my husband at this stop, so I didn’t think I would need any money.” She looks at me, shakes her head, and pulls out her receipt book and writes down a # (I think maybe the # on my “incorrect ticket”) and hands me my ticket back, and points to the stiles and says “Go!” WHEW! This lady had no sympathy for a foreigner who didn’t know what she was doing & I was beginning to wonder if she was going to haul me to jail, leaving my husband to wonder what had happened to me! And remember, I wasn’t even sure if I had the correct stop!
I go through the stiles and there right in front of me is Paul’s–OK, good, I THINK I have the correct stop, but still not positive! I wait a few minutes and then see 2 of Jon’s team mates–WHEW–I had the right stop! A few more minutes and their is my husband. I explain to him what just happened, and we decided that evidently the tickets did NOT cover all the zones–only INSIDE Paris and out to La Defense! We ended up having to purchase a ticket for me to get to Disney Paris and then a return ticket to get back to our hotel, for a total cost of about 15 euros–which when added to the cost of my ‘other’ tickets would have paid for the weekly pass for ALL zones (Jon’s pass worked to get him to Disney and back!), but at least it was only HALF of what the “penalty” would have cost. Lesson learned–don’t try to. save money and buy the tickets–just buy the pass! Besides, one plastic “Pass” is much easier to keep track of then a bunch of little tickets, and you can hop on, hop off, as much as you want–UNLIMITED!
We DID get to Disney and had Dinner and found some sale items for kids and grandkids birthdays, and we made sure they each said Disneyland PARIS on them! LOL