A €9,25 «Bienvenue à Paris!» gift

Upon arriving at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, the options for getting into the city range from cheap to ridiculous. My preference is for the cheap route, which is why I take the RER train. I also loathe sitting in traffic, and that’s pretty easy to avoid when you’re rushing by the suburbs of Paris. At €9,25 each way, it’s way cheaper than a taxi (€50 and up – oh là là!) and you arrive at a number of convenient places, including Gare du Nord.

Much to our surprise, when my friend and I alighted the stairs and headed for the ticket machines, everything was dark and a helpful RATP staffer in an awesome red hat explained there was an electrical problem and we wouldn’t have to buy tickets.

Magnifique! Feeling pretty great about saving €9,25, we headed into the city and got ready to leave Gare du Nord.

Plot twist

You see, the trick with RER trains is that you need your ticket to enter and exit the train. Having no ticket, our challenge would be explaining this high-larious turn of events to another RATP staffer so we could get out of the station. I was completely expecting a French farcical interaction with wild gestures and everyone wearing berets. In the end, though, the guy listened to our explanation and directed us to the gate. After a few tries, we were out of the train station, on the Métro, and off to the boulangerie to consume and many croissants and cafés consumed to stave off jetlag.

In short, I’d like to thank RATP for the unexpected welcome gift. Not only was it greatly appreciated, I want to assure Parisian tourism officials that the €9,25 got spent elsewhere in a matter of minutes.

Ridin’ the rails, for free, that one time…
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