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A sorry end to a wonderful trip

On Oct. 10, near the end of my two-week trip to Paris, I took the funicular up to the Cathedral on Montmartre. No problem. After a tour of the church, I took it down. There I was met with three female agents from RATP, which runs the Paris Metro system. They demanded that I produce my cancelled ticket. I had dropped it on the floor of the funicular, and asked for permission to pick it up. No such luck. Legally,. when you exit a RATP vehicle, you have to have a cancelled ticket in your possession.
They demanded that I pay a fine of 50 euros (about $65) on the spot, or I would be arrested. I couldn't escape their clutches, because when you exit the funicular, you are in a confined space with glass walls. I had to pay. This is clearly a shakedown. If they had tried this on a regular Metro train, the howls of indignation would have reached the Presidential Palace.
The claim was that there were turnstile jumpers at the top of the funicular, and this was a way to catch them. Look, I am 77 years old and could not jump over a piece of Camembert. There of course were no signs at the top of the hill telling people to hold on to their ticket. I have filed a complaint, but I doubt I will ever see the 50 euros again.

A second topic, if I may. The Roissy bus from Charles de Gaulle airport is good, although tangled in traffic. We took it on your advice. It ends at the Opera Garnier. I would advise your readers that, if they have heavy luggage and are not in their 20s, take a taxi from the Opera to your hotel, as opposed to using Metro. No Metro station in Paris is free from steep stairs. Carrying luggage up and down is not for the weak-hearted.

Posted by
6136 posts

Legally,. when you exit a RATP vehicle, you have to have a cancelled
ticket in your possession.

The rules are spelled out on the website (https://www.ratp.fr/index.php/en/visite-paris/english/our-kit-help-you-use-public-transport-real-parisian) where it states "you must keep your ticket with you until you exit the network....if you exit the RER network, you must validate your ticket again". So how is this "clearly a shakedown" versus an unfortunate mishap of misplacing the ticket you needed to produce for the agents upon exit? Seems like a simple case of public agents applying the legally prescribed penalty for breaking the law. Of course you won't see the 50 EUR again. My advice is just to "let it go", and don't waste an additional moment of mental energy on it. Don't let it sour an otherwise great trip.

Posted by
2433 posts

This is clearly a shakedown. If they had tried this on a regular
Metro train, the howls of indignation would have reached the
Presidential Palace.

Um,no. Just no. This rule, of having the current ticket in your possession until you have exited not just the ride vehicle, but the station exit, is a real thing. And it is not unique- there are similar rules for public transportation all over the world. Ignorance of the law, as they say, is no excuse. Nor is your age in any way relevant. And by the way, these fare inspectors DO check tickets in the Metro stations as well. Forget about the complaint- it holds no water. Learn from your experience and move on.

Posted by
960 posts

I learned to hold onto my ticket from reading this and other travel forums and I also read many posts, such as yours, confirming that the rules are enforced. Live and learn. I have also encountered the agents requesting tickets, and was easily able to show my ticket and waved through.

Posted by
9406 posts

Sorry that happened to you.

I agree wholeheartedly on using taxis! We do so now in every big city or even in a smaller place we are unsure of. It is no fun on any Metro or bus at rush hour with luggage! We like to save ourselves for the fun activities! We also refuse to stay anywhere where we have to go up more than one flight of stairs with luggage.

Posted by
20597 posts

Sorry this happened to you. But it is not shake down. I assume everyone was checked. If it was just you, then, of course, it was a shake down. BUT -- why are you adding to the litter by dropping your ticket on the floor?? I am sure you will keep your ticket in the future.

Posted by
2933 posts

I think that this is another reason to use the Navigo pass if you are in Paris for an extended period. Very easy to use and you won't be dropping it on the floor!

There are rules for every type of transport out there all around the world. It's our job to figure out what they are.

This was a very unfortunate situation for you since you had purchased a ticket, however, it was not a scam and they must treat everyone, even 77 year old ladies, the same.

Posted by
2357 posts

To us, a taxi when carrying luggage is an affordable luxury.

Posted by
6099 posts

Since you're 77, you should know better than to litter anywhere.

That is an unnecessarily mean-spirited comment to make.

I think the typical US mindset is " I showed my ticket when I got on , why do I need it to get off"?

Would you expect to be required to show your ticket when getting off an airplane?

I realize different countries can make their own rules, but to the exclusion of common sense?

Posted by
15573 posts

Yes, this is mis-posted under scams. It is legal law enforcement.

Now whether it is fair can be debated. I don't know how the RATP operates its fare enforcement. Do they have "commissioned" officers? Do they get a cut of the fines? Or do the enforcement officers have quotas? If so then I can definitely see them staking out places where there are lots of uninformed tourists and the pickings will be easy.

Traffic cops in the US may operate on the same principal. I remember being told to be extra careful driving at the end of the month, when the cops need to show their bosses that they are doing their jobs. There is a small town between Green Bay and Madison where the speed limit goes from 55 to 25 as you enter, and speeding tickets are a material portion of the town budget. You can even buy T-shirts at the gas station in town that say "I came to Rosendale and all I got was this speeding ticket".

Posted by
20597 posts

...I think the typical US mindset is " I showed my ticket when I got on , why do I need it to get off"?.... That is only if you have no experience with transit in the US or elsewhere. I would say ALL but there are exceptions so I will say the vast majority of transit systems in the US have a similar requirement. Lots of experience with New York, Chicago, and Denver. You better have your ticket the entire time. If you standing in a station waiting area for the train in Denver you are required to have a valid ticket. And I have seen them sweep the station area. The same situation is true in New York and Chicago although the boarding areas are behind gates requiring a ticket to get through. However, I have seen the metro police in New York come through checking everyone's tickets. So the France situation is not uncommon. You have a responsibility to know how the local system works. And if you don't know, ASK !!

Posted by
1905 posts
  1. I'm sorry you had this experience on the funicular. I think your reaction is very normal and indeed is mirrored in other posts on the forum written by people with a similar experience on the Metro. Unfortunately, turn-style jumping has become a problem in Paris, and the decision has been made to monitor payment with random checks on tickets at exits. That's not intuitive for many US tourists, but well-known as the rule in Paris and published in various forms by the transport authority. You can imagine that letting someone off because they didn't know about the rule due to being a tourist would soon result in every turn-style jumper saying, "I didn't know. I'm a tourist." So, tourists don't get a pass. It kind of makes sense if you think about it? I agree with those above who have encouraged you not to let a single incident soil an otherwise great trip. One of the joys of independent travel is the occasional travel misadventure. For me, it's more productive to chuckle at them (and think, "What a goofball am I") than to get mad.

  2. I agree that a taxi is a good idea if carrying a lot of luggage. Heck, I often get one after a transatlantic flight with just a carry-on because I'm not in a good state of mind to figure out transportation after arriving on an overnight flight.

Posted by
6136 posts

I realize different countries can make their own rules, but to the
exclusion of common sense?

Every transit system in the world has its own way of dealing with fare evasion or the "free rider" problem. They are "common sense" for that particular system; otherwise, they wouldn't have implemented them in the first place. It's up to each tourist to research and familiarize themselves with foreign rules instead of falling back on the Average Joe interpretation of "common sense".

Posted by
5817 posts

Similar posts to this crop up quite regularly on this forum.

Sorry but whilst I have some sympathy it is pretty limited. You made a mistake and got caught out. Instead of accepting your error and moving on, lesson learnt, accusations of "scam" and "shakedown" start flying around.
You broke the rules and they were doing their job, nothing more, nothing less.
Why should tourists who don't follow the rules get special treatment?

The lesson from this, and other similar posts, is simply don't throw your tickets away. Keep them safe in a pocket until the end of the day when you can have a clear out, and certainly don't drop them in the floor. Would you do that at home?

Posted by
2933 posts

Also , this issue is hardly confined to Paris , it is commonplace throughout Europe . As an example , when exiting the tram in Padova about two weeks ago , a pair of inspectors were waiting at the door when the tram pulled into the train station . This is fairly routine procedure in most countries . EDIT - my wife just reminded me , we were also checked on the narrow gauge train last week traveling from Oberbozen to Klobenstein in the South Tyrol .

Posted by
30929 posts

hinhaber,

Sorry to hear about your misfortune, but the rule about retaining tickets is well known on this forum and others, and in the RS guidebooks. FWIW, even Rick was fined in the Paris Metro last year, so it can happen to anybody.

I very much doubt that an appeal will be successful, and it will probably be a frustrating effort to even try to get your money back. Technically you were at fault, and there were three agents to act as witnesses. My suggestion would be to just chalk it up to an unfortunate travel lesson, and try to focus on the good memories of your trip.

BTW, if you ever travel in Italy, there are also some potentially expensive caveats to be aware of when using trains, buses and other public transit there.

Posted by
2933 posts

If you ride the light rail system in Seattle, make sure you are also prepared to show your ticket to transit inspectors.......

Posted by
3352 posts

Having your ticket is a requirement on trains, buses and other forms of transportation, including a metro. The funicular uses the same tickets as the metro, so same rules apply. I have been on the various modes of transportation (in Europe and USA) and had my ticket checked my inspectors. There was no scam, targeting people.

Otherwise, I hope you really enjoyed your trip to beautiful Paris!

Posted by
1959 posts

Since you're 77, you should know better than to litter anywhere.
"That is an unnecessarily mean-spirited comment to make.
I think the typical US mindset is " I showed my ticket when I got on , why do I need it to get off"?
Would you expect to be required to show your ticket when getting off an airplane?
I realize different countries can make their own rules, but to the exclusion of common sense?"

I don't think my comment was mean-spirited - it was in fact honest. I threw my ticket on the floor, and then I got busted. The OP brought up his/her age, and it's not that much ahead of my own. When someone behaves disrespectfully by tossing a ticket on the floor - too special to look for a waste basket - then s/he gets busted for not having a ticket - boo effin hoo. Sometimes Lady Karma is mean-sprited.

Posted by
11480 posts

Very sorry this happened to you but as spelled out on the RATP website (this page as well as well as another linked previously):

https://www.ratp.fr/index.php/en/visite-paris/english/safety-recommendations-worry-free-travel

"Keep your ticket with you for the duration of your trip until you exit the network: if you lose your ticket or throw it away before leaving by the exit gates, you risk being fined."

So no, it's no "shakedown" but the rules of taking public transit in Paris. And yes, you will be fined for throwing away your ticket before exiting a Metro station if an authority decides to check. Yelling won't accomplish anything, and it's up to the visitor to do their homework in advance and not expect that there will be signage spelling out the rules.

Similar rules apply to public transit in other European cites we've visited, like Rome, plus some American cities as well. Roissy Bus: we've taken that one as well and you are correct that the Opera metro station - as well as others - involves stairs. Other than a cab, buses are the best alternative for getting around Paris if stairs are an issue.

Very glad that the rest of your trip was wonderful, though!

Posted by
4685 posts

I think the typical US mindset is " I showed my ticket when I got on , why do I need it to get off"?

US public transit systems have similar rules. When I got off the MAX train at the Portland airport a couple of weeks ago, our tickets were inspected. I assume people without them were fined - just like in Paris.

Would you expect to be required to show your ticket when getting off an airplane?

No, because that isn't how air travel works, anywhere, to my knowledge. People know that they must show a boarding pass to board a plane and that's it.

Posted by
6027 posts

Would you expect to be required to show your ticket when getting off an airplane?

No comparison. Air travel is definitely not the same as ground transport. The reason they check for tickets as you exit, or during the ride, is because too many people manage to get on without a ticket; that's not likely to happen on a plane - good luck sneaking on one of them without a ticket. The checking and fining for not having a ticket is not directed at tourists and is not done as a method of scamming $$ from them; it's directed at fare jumpers who try to get away with traveling for free. Some metro stations are notorious for this so they are maybe a bit stricter at those locations.

And I agree with the other posters that picked up on the OP's statement that he/she had dropped the ticket on the floor of the funicular. If he/she accidentally dropped it they should have picked it up and if they wanted to discard it they should have found a proper receptacle for that purpose. Old enough to know better than to litter. Lord knows there's enough of that on the Paris metro already, lets not add to it.

Posted by
5280 posts

OK, be careful if you travel to San Francisco and use public transit -- BART requires that you use the ticket to enter AND exit, Muni can ask for proof of payment at any time (on the bus/train or at the exit) As a local, I have been asked to show my ticket many times.

Posted by
6408 posts

You learned something. So I got a 50 euro fine in 2002 in Rome metro for not validating and 35 dollar fine in 2008 requiring a court appearance for moving from car to car while the CTA L or metro train in Chicago was moving. And another citation for drinking beer on the CTA train after the Cubs won the World Series. Y'all read the rules before taking public trans anywhere

Posted by
2019 posts

I always find it fascinating when a first-time poster can suddenly find this board to complain about something that SHOULD have been common knowledge, but cannot have found this board earlier where they easily would have learned how to avoid their mistake.

Posted by
2347 posts

And another citation for drinking beer on the CTA train after the Cubs won the World Series.

I hope you framed this and hung it next to the front page of the Tribune!

Posted by
15573 posts

Well, you won't have to worry about getting that citation this year.

Posted by
2 posts

I notice that not one of my esteemed correspondents said, "I got off the Paris Metro train at (Bastille, Concorde, Etoile, Hotel de Ville, etc.), was asked for a cancelled ticket by Metro agents, showed it to them and was let go". That's because it never happens. Trying to catch and fine a hundred violators of the rule that are getting off a train at the same time is impossible. As I stated before, the Metro agents were able to perform their shakedown - and that is what it was - because when a few funicular passengers depart the car, they are trapped in a confined space with only one small exit.

Posted by
2019 posts

We have been requested to show our valid tickets exiting the system in Paris. And Budapest. And we have been asked to show properly validated tickets while in transit in Budapest and Copenhagen, among others. Not once did we ever fail to do so. Nor have we ever considered this check a “shakedown”.

Of course, we have always researched in advance the requirements of the transit system of the cities we have visited.

Better not try riding the Dutch trains, or the DC Metro. You can’t open the exit turnstiles without your otherwise now-useless ticket.

Posted by
991 posts

I live in an area with extremely limited public transportation options. The first time I visited D.C. and rode the Metro, I only knew to have my Metro card ready at the exit because I'd been reading a guide book for the area. Otherwise, I would not have known that was even an option.

I also live in an area without toll roads. I had previously been on toll roads with cash booths, but the first time I was in the greater Miami area, I discovered that some of the roads did not have a cash option or a warning that there was no cash option available. Again, this was something I didn't even know to ask before I'd traveled there, because I rarely think about traveling about the US the same way I do when I travel abroad.

When we were in Germany, I read up on the country ahead of time. I read that I had to validate my ticket prior to boarding. Even then, I almost didn't find the little machine because it didn't look the way I'd expected it to look. Before we rode the train in England then, I made sure to check if we validated the ticket in a machine before we boarded.

My point here is that when I travel, I learn a lot of things that might seem obvious to others. I am always finding out things that I wouldn't have thought to even ask, based on my previously limited experience. I know more now. I ask better questions before I travel. But I am still finding out new things. I still remember how shocked I was to learn that just because I'd purchased a specific seat on a flight, that didn't mean that I was guaranteed to have that seat on the plane. And I can understand how frustrating it would feel to learn something the hard, expensive way.

Posted by
2433 posts

I notice that not one of my esteemed correspondents said, "I got off
the Paris Metro train at (Bastille, Concorde, Etoile, Hotel de Ville,
etc.), was asked for a cancelled ticket by Metro agents, showed it to
them and was let go". That's because it never happens.

a. Sorry, I didn't see anywhere in your earlier post where you wanted testimonials from previous Metro users as to the presence of ticket inspectors.

b. Regarding the second sentence quoted: Bollocks. I've ridden the Metro dozens of times over several trips and have been stopped at least 3-4 times to show my ticket or pass. Since it was always in my pocket it took 2 seconds and I was on my way.

Posted by
6740 posts

hinhaber You are batting a thousand in showing you don’t know what you are talking about. I’ve been riding the RATP system regularly since 1973 and I’ve had to show on a regular basis my ticket or my Carte Orange or my Navigo at Metro exits, on buses, in the connecting hallways of metro lines, and even when going through the exit doors. Once I even had to pay a little fine of a few francs. Of course they don't stand next to a Metro car as that would impede the flow of traffic. They are at the exits, as you were, or in the tunnels.
Sorry you got all heated up over a fine when in fact you were simply ignorant. At least you didn’t call the US Embassy the way the one man did when he was stopped for his ticket leaving th metro. The Embassy didn’t send in the Marines.

Posted by
7123 posts

Exactly what C Jean and Bets said. My first reaction to your last post was that I did not know you were waiting for testimonials. I’ve been riding the Paris mêtro since 1960, but my memory for being stopped and asked to show my valid ticket starts from 1975 up to now. Been asked many times, most recently in June this year at a station not popular with tourists. There were 4 agents, all polite and respectful, asking everyone to show their validated ticket at the exit turnstiles. They were not turnstiles that needed a ticket to exit. So yes, agents can, and do, ask everyone leaving a particular mêtro station to show their validated ticket.

It was not a shakedown. Your self-righteous indignation is misplaced and inappropriate. You were in the wrong, end of story.

Posted by
180 posts

Would you expect to be required to show your ticket when getting off an airplane?

In 2015, when making a connection in Toronto from Denver, immigration asked for my boarding pass from the Denver flight. Since I hadn't expected to need it again, I wasn't sure where I had stashed it and had to search my pockets and personal item to find it. I did find it, so don't know what would have happened if I had not found it. Since then I keep the used boarding pass accessible. I assume if I had used a phone boarding pass they would have accepted that.

Posted by
23365 posts

As others have said, I didn't know you wanted stories from folks who had been stopped in busy places or I would have given you one. Or three.

I've used the RATP both above ground and below for many years.

I have no idea how many times I've been checked - most of them I simply forget about. It happens, I pull out the ticket or Navigo or Mobilis ticket, they check it and move on.

Among other times I can remember recently being checked on a bus approaching Gare du Nord (or it may have been Gare de l'Est - same bus), at Montparnasse station in one of the many side corridors, on a bus in the 20th arr., and leaving a RER near Notre Dame.

It happens. Not a lot, but just enough.

I've never been checked on the Funicolare.

Posted by
3216 posts

Why were you in such a hurry to get rid of your ticket? You couldn't hold on to it until you at least reached a trash can? If I was one of their inspectors, I wouldn't believe that story either. I'm sure they hear exactly that story at least a hundred times a day and probably most of the people telling them that never bought a ticket in the first place.

Like it or not, you broke the law. Plain and simple. You were not singled out because you were a tourist. You were not picked on because you were older. It is not a shakedown. It is not a scam. It happens on all of the public transportation options in Paris with no howling involved.

Posted by
16727 posts

I had been in Poland less than 90 minutes when my bus ticket was checked. I've been checked more than once on the U-Bahn/S-Bahn in Berlin. And other than subways, I don't take much intra-city transportation. I'm still not used to feeding an inter-city train ticket into a turnstile to exit a UK rail station; I always have to fumble around for the ticket.

Posted by
850 posts

I have been asked to produce a ticket/pass in a Paris metro tunnel at least twice. Not a scam.

Posted by
7639 posts

In Frankfurt you are required to have a ticket if you are down in the platform area. I have seen them ask for tickets when people get off trains on a number of occasions.