In the last two weeks, I’ve come to possess the following items that make me feel a bit more like La Parisienne:
- A Navigo card. This is like the New York metro card or London Oyster. Though, here, you have to apply for it online and upload a little picture of yourself. Until now, I’d been paying-as-I-go each time I rode, but when I sat down to do the math, I realized that as much as I walk, I also take the metro. And, well, who doesn’t like to be cost-efficient? Plus, their pay-as-you-go system is trés wasteful. You can’t just load up a card with random euro amounts; rather you get actual paper tickets. For each ride. Which means, they end up in every pocket you own because you gotta hold onto them just in case the metro police are trailing the dirty underground tunnels lookin’ for turnstile jumpers. (More on that later.)
- A Velib membership. Now that the weather is getting warmer and I’ve familiarized myself with the arrondissements, I also plan to hop on a bike to get around via Paris’ bike-sharing program, Velib. It’s only €30 for the year. (And I thought New York’s CitiBike was a bargain at $140!) What’s more, you can connect an annual membership with your Navigo card, so it becomes an all-in-one transport swipe sitch with one less card to carry. Speaking of…
- “Fidelité” rewards cards. These are free, so getting them just required some courage and my being able to say, “How do you apply?” in French at the register of the supermarket/drugstore/cinema/department store. Now, just like at Food Emporium, Duane Reade, AMC and Bloomies back home, if there’s a touted discount on, say, fraises, I’m gonna get me a lot of juicy raspberries. Or two-for-one contact lens solutions, free sweet ‘n’ salty popcorn at the cinema and invites to pre-sale events for spring/summer collections.
- An email address with an “.fr” ending. They give you one when you sign up for internet/cable/phone, which in itself was a whole endeavor. I likely won’t use the address, though. For one, two email addresses are enough (personal + professional). But more importantly, because they spelled my last name wrong and I don’t have the patience to deal with fixing it. Did I mention it was an ENDEAVOR???
The only popular Paris membership that I know about and haven’t signed up for is the UGC/MK2 illimité film pass. For €20 a month, you can see as many movies as you want at any theater around town! But, you have to commit for a year. (As in, I think you pay €240 up front.) Since I’m all non-committal these days, I’d rather stick to monthly payments. Velib was an exception cause it was el cheapo.
Thankfully, Paris often hosts cool promotions like “Printemps Cinema” in which all movies in all theaters were €3.50 for three days. Monday I saw Big Eyes and Tuesday I saw Insurgent. The former was on my list, and while I liked Divergent, I can’t say I would’ve run to the theaters to see the sequel at a regular price. But it rained yesterday, plus I look at it like a language lesson since all the English films all have French subtitles.
You know what other cost-efficient event happened over the last few days? The metro was free! And get this: It was to minimize the amount of smog created from cars. The city wanted to encourage more people to take the metro to eliminate pollution so all train lines were free for four days. This would never happen in New York. They’d do the opposite, and just charge those coming in and out of Manhattan more money in tolls.
Of course, if I were still paying each time I used the metro, I’d have been thrilled about this free-for-all tactic. But since I now have the pre-paid monthly Navigo pass, I was all like, ‘Wait, I’m still paying for this!’ I applaud their effort, though.
I also felt super cool when, a day after the free rides ended and the metro police were roaming the cars checking tickets, I was able to whip out my Navigo rather than frantically search for which of the many tickets in my pockets was the one I had just used to show proof of payment. I’d heard about the random checks and wondered when I might get caught up in one. The thing is, people jump the turnstiles all the time here in Paris. It’s actually nutty how many people I see doing it. And yet, the workers behind the information desk—only two-feet away!—barely blink.
Not me, though.
Plus, despite these totally awesome new sneakers I just got from Printemps, I don’t think I’d be able to hoist myself over the bar even if I wanted to.