Paris releases new rule book on Metro manners

Ben McPartland
Ben McPartland - [email protected]
Paris releases new rule book on Metro manners
Keep your armpits to yourself, say Paris transport authorities in their new rule book on etiquette on the Metro. Screengrab: RATP

Do you regularly complain about how impolite Parisians are on the Metro? Well authorities have heard your gripes and responded by publishing 12 commandments on Metro etiquette including one rule that sweaty commuters should keep their armpits to themselves.


“They push on”, “nobody smiles” and “people smell” – these are all common complaints from regular travellers on the notoriously uncivil Paris Metro.

But transport authorities in the capital are determined, it seems, to try and civilize the capital’s commuters and teach them some old-fashioned Metro manners.

RATP, the company that runs the Metro system, has published a rule book this week containing 12 instructions on how passengers should act in order to bring a little bit of "savoir-vivre" to the carriages.

“Civility in public transport is an issue more topical than ever and deserves the attention of all of us, every day,” reads the introduction to the manual.

The book, entitled “An etiquette manual for the modern traveller”, was based on complaints by members of the public. A reading committee managed to whittle down 2,000 suggestions from the passengers to 12 solid commandments, by which we should all abide.

The rules are broken up into four categories: “courtesy”, “helpfulness”, “manners” and “politeness” and include directives, written in a tongue-in-cheek style, on everything from making sure body odour is kept in check to helping old ladies and confused tourists.

“Offer help to the person standing there in Bermuda shorts holding a metro map in one hand and his head in the other,” reads rule number two, and tells Parisians that’s it’s worth giving over two minutes of your time to help tourists, just to hear them try and pronounce the names of some of the more tongue-twisting Paris Metro stations.

And rule number 3, one that may strike a chord with many who have squeezed onto packed Metro carriages during the summer months, reads: “On really hot days, even an emperor penguin needs to keep his arms close to his body so grab the bottom of the post and not the very top.”

Other rules are more obvious, with one telling commuters that the Metro is a not a place to share music by playing it so loud that everyone else can hear it, and another reminding Parisians that the no smoking signs are “not art installations”, they are in fact “no smoking signs”.

There are also rules for not staring at people and not causing a rumpus if someone accidentally stands on your toe.

Authorities also want us to help out elderly ladies by carrying their shopping bags up the steps and use a handkerchief, not to wave goodbye, but to “keep our germs to ourself”.

And anyone who has been whacked in the face by an exit door at a station will be pleased to see rule number 4, telling people to hold the doors open for the person behind you.

The rule book, which is available online, is just the latest effort by RATP to improve civility on the Metro. In June last year they launched a poster-campaign aimed at ‘educating’ Metro users on how to behave.

To view the full rule book in French click on the image below.

The posters depicted the most typically impolite Paris Metro users as animals, whose typical selfish act leaves other passengers shocked. (see below).

In December last year, France’s rail company SNCF announced it was deploying 3,000 inspectors, who were dubbed the “politeness police” to eradicate bad train etiquette, which included spitting, insulting staff and putting your feet on the seats.

At the time SNCF boss Guillaume Pepy said a "line had been crossed" in "uncouth behaviour and delinquency".

"Impolite behaviour generates a feeling of anxiety and discomfort," he added.

In September this year Metro chiefs also announced plans to clean up the grimey network through a whopping €350million investment.

But will the new rule book help put an end to rudeness on the Paris Metro? What’s the worst experience you have had on the Metro?



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