‘Unkind Paris Metro inspectors ruined our family trip to France’

Ticket inspections are a regular occurrence on the Paris Metro, as the city attempts to crack down on fare dodging - but are staff too heavy handed? One Canadian family who fell foul of the law certainly thinks so.

'Unkind Paris Metro inspectors ruined our family trip to France'
RATP conducts regular ticket inspections in an attempt to crack down on fare dodging. Photo: AFP

The Paris Metro system is renowned for rampant fare dodging. If you regularly travel on the Metro the chances are someone has sneaked in behind you to avoid paying.

It is estimated that regular fare dodgers make up to seven percent of regular passengers, and one crackdown in 2016 snared a whopping 1,500 fare dodgers in just three hours.

To counter this problem Paris transport chiefs employ teams of ticket inspectors who tend to lurk as a mob around corners in the underground walkways or at the top of escalators. 

They tend to catch scores of people at at time, unsurprisingly, but they also have a reputation for being draconian.

Last year a pregnant woman was fined for walking the wrong way at the Concorde Metro station, while two Austrian tourists also fell foul of system by accidentally entering a 'no entry' passageway at Bastille station.

This week The Local was contacted by a distraught Canadian tourist who had misunderstood the Metro system, and ended up having to pay a €175 fine.

Krista Gosselin, from Vancouver, said: “I brought my children to France to learn about their heritage, as well as about the French culture. We have spent seven days here, immersing ourselves in the history, as well as creating life long memories. 


(The Gosselin family say their trip to Paris was soured by their experience on the Metro. Photo: Krista Gosselin)

“We have mastered the Metro system without any help from the employees.  

“On our last full day in Paris, we took our children to Disneyland.

“We purchased the required metro/RER tickets to get us there and back.

“On the way back, we stopped near the Gare du Lyon station for something to eat.

“Since we have never received any help from transit officials during our stay, we expected that if our ticket was no longer valid, the machines would not accept them. But we did not encounter any issues (with all five tickets), and continued our trip to Saint Lazare.

“We were switching lines when we encountered a ticket check. We were informed that our tickets were not valid, and that if we chose to argue, the police would be contacted, and we would be fined.

'The French would never be treated like this in Canada'

“So, even though we had moved through the two other stations, without being stopped with invalid tickets, and were only two stops from our hotel, we had to pay €35 each to finish our journey!

“Why couldn’t there have been even one moment of kindness given to a family of Canadian tourists, on their last night here, after having spent thousands of Euros in France?

READ ALSO The strange rules of the Paris Metro you should probably know about

“We begged for understanding and to just be allowed to purchase five more metro tickets, to go those two last stops. But no, we ended up paying €175 euros for those two stops. That or risk having the police called, and a stiffer fine given.

“Where were these transit officials when we needed help to understand the Metro system, or even last Saturday, when we were on a train, and advised we had to get off early, as the remaining stations were closed due to protesters?  

“Considering how many tourists rely on the Metro, the French government should increase the level of service and have the “Information” officers actually provide useful information.

“The French would never be treated this way in Canada.”

It's not an uncommon story, and The Local has heard from several people who have fallen foul of the system, from tourists who have made a genuine mistake with the system to locals fined when they were unable to produce the correct day's ticket.

But are the inspectors really heavy-handed or is it a normal response to the issue of fare-dodgers? And what else could Paris do to fix the problem?

What do you think? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below. 



Member comments

  1. I was stopped in the Wagram station with Navigo I had updated incorrectly at the machine. I explained I was American and did not understand the machine. Ah, but you need not be American to misunderstand the machines, they said waving me along. Ask the agent, they called after me.

  2. I have twice found myself in a position of irregularity but have explained and been told to go on my way, I have never had a fine. I think that your response makes the difference; first admit that you were wrong, then apologize, and then explain, and then apologize again. The key is not to argue. You are in the wrong. Period. Own it and THEN give your excuse. There is an abundance of help and explanation for travelers: maps and signs on the walls, but also a person in a booth who I have always found to be helpful when asked. There is also a RATP phone app and very clearly explained websites. When you go to any strange city, do your research. Having used the French metro and the New York City subway, I can emphatically say that the NYC subway is hopelessly difficult to understand or use! The fares in Paris are so low that it makes me very angry to see the fare jumpers – they are in effect stealing from everyone who pays a fare. And there are so many discounts and even free transport for those who need it! The fare jumpers jeopardize that. I have no sympathy for them.

  3. I agree with Alisa. I visit for 3 weeks every year for the past 5 years. I have never had an issue. The Metro is cheap and fast for the most part. Ever ridden the New York City Subway? Like Alisa said, just ask someone. I have never had any trouble asking a question. And the iPhone Metro apps are fantastic!!

  4. As for fare dodgers, and I’ve witnessed a few in the Paris Metro, how about a more regular watch by the officials?

    There’s nothing, then one day all of a sudden there are a bunch of agents in one spot.

    Spread those agents out and have them just watch the turnstiles–pretty obvious when the jumpers cheat.

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For members


The Paris transport works that could disrupt your summer

Every year, major engineering works take place on the capital's public transport network in July and August, when Parisians flee the city for their summer holidays. Here’s the lines affected this year.

The Paris transport works that could disrupt your summer
Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP.


The most significant changes to Metro lines will take place on line 6. The line will be closed between Montparnasse-Bienvenüe and Trocadéro throughout July and August, and the Nationale station will remain closed until the end of August. Replacement bus services will be available but will add time to your journey.

The Mairie des Lilas stop will also be inaccessible from June 26th, so line 11 line will end at Porte des Lilas until August 29th.

There will also be disruption on line 14, with no trains running between Gare de Lyon and Olympiades from July 25th until August 22nd, as work takes place to extend the line to Paris Orly Airport.


Services on the RER A line will be suspended between Auber and the Université, Cergy and Poissy stations from June 26th until August 29th, every day from 9pm and all day on weekends.

From August 9th to 13th, and August 16th to 20th,  services will be suspended all day between Auber and La Défense, and no trains will be running to or from Poissy.

Frequent work is planned on RER B, which will affect journeys between the city centre and Charles de Gaulle and orly airports. There will be no services between Aulnay-sous-Bois and Charles de Gaulle 2 Airport on the weekend of June 26th-27th, or any day after 11pm from July 1st until August 27th. There will however be a replacement bus.

Services between Charles de Gaulle terminals 1 and 2 will also be suspended on July 3rd and 4th. Likewise for journeys between Gare du Nord and Charles de Gaulle 2 on August 14th and 15th.

Improvements take place during the summer, when public transport is less crowded. Photo: Aurore MESENGE / AFP.

The Luxembourg stop meanwhile will be closed throughout the whole of July. As will the Fontaine-Michalon station to the south of Paris from June 28th to July 23rd, and Denfert-Rochereau every weekend from July 24th until August 22nd.

The RER C will also see its share of engineering works, with no trains running between Pontoise and Avenue Henri Martin on weekdays after 9:30pm, from July 1st until July 13th.

There is greater disruption to come on weekends from July 15th to August 21st. Services will be suspended between Musée d’Orsay and Pontoise, Saint-Quentin en Yvelines and Versailles Château Rive Gauche, and Massy – Palaiseau and Pont de Rungis Aéroport d’Orly.


Most tramlines will be unaffected by works, but there will still be interruptions in certain areas. Notably, the stretch of the T3b line from Porte de Vincennes to Delphine Seyrig will be blocked between July 3rd and 9th.

Full details of the disruption can be found on the RATP website.