Sicily's Aeolian Islands

Have you been to the Aeolian Islands? Have you even heard of the Aeolian Islands? I am going to let you in on an insider secret that more than 99.99% of travelers to Italy don’t know about. This island chain off the coast of Sicily is one of the most special and most spectacular places you will ever visit.

I have to confess I had never even heard of the Aeolian Islands until reading what has become one of my favorite books ever, (I have read it more times than I care to fess up to!) An Italian Affair  by Laura Fraser. In the book Laura makes her way to the Aeolians and travels around them telling stories of the wonderful characters she meets and the incredible sights she sees.

Once I found the Aeolian Islands on the map I had to find a way to get there.

stromboli

 

Where Are The Aeolian Islands?

The Aeolian Islands are a volcanic chain in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the north coast of Sicily. I find the compass points of Sicily too confusing, so imagine a line from Naples to Sicily. The island chain is off that coast, slightly above Messina, where the toe of Italy’s boot meets Sicily.

The seven islands, Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Alicudi and Filicudi explode up out of the bluest cobalt sea you have ever seen, with the kind of drama reserved for volcanos and Greek gods. In 2000 the Aeolians (named after the wind demigod Aeolus) and their history dating back to 4000 B.C. were granted UNESCO World Heritage Site Status.

One of the truly fantastic things about the Aeolian islands is that despite their beauty and their attraction as the perfect island getaway, there is not so much as a Hilton or a Marriot in sight. No condo complexes with a view, no major modern urbanization. These islands for millennia have been made up of fishing villages, beautiful, picturesque little fishing villages, all of which have been maintained architecturally but modernized with electrics and plumbing. You feel like you have arrived in heaven, and maybe you just have.

The Eastern Aeolian Islands

Vulcano

The first island in the chain, positioned close to the Sicilian beach town of Milazzo, is a live volcano aptly named Vulcano  by the Romans who thought it was the chimney of Vulcan, the God of fire. Although not sending out lava, Vulcano shoots steam from its fumaroles, offers therapeutic mud baths and a mud beach. We watched people slathering themselves with the warm, volcanic mud, lie out in the sun to let it dry and harden, then swim in off in the bay. I didn’t do it myself although with all the therapeutic benefits perhaps I should have!

vulcano sulfur mud baths

One of the big attractions of Vulcano (apart from the breathtaking views) is the black sand beach. This is a lovely beach for sunning and swimming and is one of the few sand beaches in the archipelago. The sunsets from here will bring you to tears, they are just so beautiful.

vulcano black sand beach

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Lipari

The largest of the islands, Lipari, is next in the chain and is the island I always stay on. All beauty and history aside, the heady fragrance of lemons and jasmine and honeysuckle will haunt you forever. On so many levels Lipari is a place you experience more than just visit.

lipari

Lipari is historically important, with treasures from settlements long before the arrival of the Greeks. (Think 4000-1000B.C) The archaeological museum is a must see with its displays of cargoes from ancient shipwrecks (think really ancient!) and also the world’s largest collection of mini Greek theater masks.

Lipari

Lipari

The town center is full of wonderful little streets to wander through, fabulous bars and restaurants, lovely little shops, and history every which way you turn.

Lipari

Further along the coast is the darling community of Canneto Beach, where I always stay. The beachfront town looks like the set from an old movie. No matter what time of day or night the light hits it with movie-like flair and majesty. It is completely visually stunning.

lipari at night

I found Canneto while looking for a place to stay with a terrace facing the island Stromboli, so that if it decided to show off with a fireworks display of erupting lava I would be in prime position to watch the show. Although Stromboli has erupted days after I have been in residence I have never been there to see it myself. Maybe next time?

Lipari

Someone was told me Lipari is a more down to earth version of Capri, but I beg to differ. It has its own perfect magic. Along the waterfront in Canneto you can still see some old run-down fisherman’s homes that make you think of Il Postino…

Lipari

Lipari

If you rent scooters or a car on the island you can head around to Aquacalda for lunch. While there lunching and simultaneously trying to wrap our brains around the staggering views of the neighboring island of Salina while flirting with the ridiculously handsome restaurant owner, we found out that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair comes here when he needs to getaway. Who Knew?

Salina

salina italy

Did you see the movie Il Postino? If not you need to see it! The story takes place on the island of Salina. This is the most verdant of the islands, its rich volcanic soil perfect for the more than 400 different types of plants that grow there. The mountain slopes are covered in ferns, chestnut trees and poplars, but Salina is most famous for having the best capers in the world and for its sweet, golden, Malvasia wine.

 

Panarea

Panarea

The smallest of the 7 islands Panarea is also the most chic and the most exclusive. Home owners include the Bulgari’s, the Borghese’s and the Visconti’s. Although this is the playground of the uber rich, uber jetset, you won’t find wild nightclubs here, that would be too crass. Princess Caroline of Monaco and Giorgio Armani bring their yachts to Panarea – did I mention it is madly chic?

Panarea

If you are dropping in for a visit chances are you won’t stumble upon the island’s bronze age ruins, but you will see whitewashed buildings surrounded by an explosion of brightly colored flowers, offset by the bluest sea you can possibly imagine.

Panarea

An absolute must when visiting Panarea is to swim from a boat off her coast. First you will notice it is hard to comprehend how blue the water is. Second you will find that this is the softest seawater you have ever experienced anywhere in the world. Or at least it is the softest seawater I have experienced anywhere in all of my travels.

Panarea

Some of the views will seem oddly familiar. This is because of all the Dolce and Gabbana fragrance ad campaigns that have been shot here.

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Stromboli

The next island along the route is the delightfully menacing live volcano, Stromboli. From the smoke plumes rising up to the heavens to the lava stream rolling down the back side of the island you are always aware that you are on a volcano. It’s actually pretty fantastic.

Stromboli is unique in that it has been continuously or persistently active throughout recorded history, some 2000-3000 years! It has small, explosive “Strombolian” eruptions every 30 minutes or so, larger explosions 2 to 5 times per year. Hikers climb the mountain every day to watch the action from the edge of the crater, and then walk back down in the dark. Other people (like me) prefer to take a boat around to the back of the island after the sun has gone down and watch the lava roll down the side of the mountain, fast moving and vibrant in the dark. No matter how many times you see it, it is still just awe inspiring and miraculous.

stromboli

Stromboli smoking away in the background

Stromboli is a fabulous island to spend time on. Not as picturesque as neighboring Panarea and Lipari, it still has its own magic. Juxtaposed with the perfect buildings and endlessly chic people on Panarea, just a stone’s throw away, Stromboli is like another world. The buildings are a little shabby, the foliage a little more untamed, the locals a little more hippy-esque. Okay, a lot.

The residential neighborhoods have wide walking streets with wonderful old houses, including the house where Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini lived during the filming of the movie Stromboli.

Stromboli

The piazza in front of the church at the top of Stromboli town can be a hive of activity. One time we watched a fabulous young man teaching a tango lab to a gathering of old couples, young couples, gay couples, lesbian couples, kid couples, punk rock looking couples and friend couples who just wanted to join in. His old school tango music rang out across the bay, and the combination of the breathtaking views, the old buildings, the violence rumbling around underground, the music and the dancing made for a heady, surreal experience, one of the great travel memories I absolutely treasure.

stromboli wine

Red wine from Salina and a view from Stromboli

Next to the piazza is Bar Ingrid, named after Bergman. This is the perfect place to end your day with a glass of local wine, and a basket of snacks from the restaurant, whiling away the time on their giant terrace looking out over the ocean, waiting for the sun to go down. The views will take your breath away.

The Western Aeolian Islands.

I haven’t yet been to the two western islands in the chain. They are a little more remote and depending on your starting point slightly more difficult to reach. Both islands are exquisitely beautiful, with Caribbean looking beaches, the bluest water, no cars, hardly any year round population, and the wildest, craziest stories ever.

aeolian islands map

Filicudi

Heading west 24 nautical miles from Lipari is the tiny and remote island of Filicudi. Settled at some point in the Neolithic age (3000 B.C). The village of Capo Graziano has the remains of a Bronze Age village (2000 B.C). After centuries of lying uninhabited Filicudi was then settled by the Greeks, the Romans and the Byzantines.

The island’s distance from the mainland and from the main shipping channels, as well as the migration flow (much of which went to Australia) has resulted in it being mostly unchanged in the last century. As with the other islands in the chain Filicudi is merely the rocky tip of an underwater volcano, this one only 774 meters above sea level at its highest point.

One interesting place to put on your itinerary is the Bue Marino (sea ox), a spectacular blue grotto style cave with shockingly crystalline depth and beauty that takes its name from the haunting noises similar to the bellows of an ox produced when the waves crash against the rocks.

filicudi grotto del bue marino

There is a fantastic story about Filcudi, the Mafia and a bunch of Australians. In 1971 Italy banished its worst mafia members to the tiny island of Filicudi. In some weird concept of punishment instead of being locked up in prisons they were free to enjoy life in paradise. They wandered around in the sunshine, lay on the beaches, slept in king sized beds instead of jail cells. They ate for free at the local taverns where they dined on gourmet foods the locals could never afford to eat.

They even were allowed to take a lover, although the local girls would rather die than get involved with them.

These were Mafiosi such as Godfather-like John Bonventre, the FBI wanted man who controlled the South America – United States – Sicily cocaine chain and Tano Badalamenti, the “farmer boss” who was known for killing enemy gangs, infiltrating public offices and running drug trade.

filicudi view

view from this vacation rental villa on Filicudi

The locals loathed them and didn’t want them on their island. Most of the locals had relatives who had migrated to Australia. Both the Aussie connection and the locals were scared the cash rich mafia would use their blood money to buy up the island, their homes and their donkeys, so they hatched a brilliant plan. A plan that became the country’s first anti-mafia war.

With the support of the other Aeolian Islands and the Aussie connection’s financing, the locals ran away from / abandoned Filicudi. They left the island empty while they hid out on the other islands, leaving the mafia with nowhere to shop or eat. For several days the island turned into a ghost town. All the windows were shuttered, the shops and taverns closed, the fields empty, the farmers and fishermen all gone. The only people left on the island were the mafia dons. Genius, no?

I don’t know how long it lasted but in the end the government had to move the Mafiosi to an uninhabited island near Sardinia, with only wild donkeys for company.

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Alicudi

alicudi vacation rental

View from vacation rental apartment on Alicudi

The final and westernmost island in the Aeolian Archipelago is Alicudi. Home to a mere 120 people this little circular island occupies only 5.2 square kms or 2 square miles. The island is 150,000 years old but archeologists date its first inhabitants to 1700 B.C. Roman ceramics have also been found (500 B.C – 350 A.D). For centuries the defenseless little island was the target of pirates so for safety the people of Alicudi were forced to build little houses on high terraces. Agriculture and the cultivation of peaches funded the island’s small economy.

There are no roads on Alicudi, and only one restaurant. This is a place to be alone, so is popular with writers, artists, hikers and adventurers.

Alicudi also has a particularly fantastically crazy story. This one earned it the moniker “LSD Island”, and it centers around a cozy pink resort called Casa Mulina, formerly the island’s grain mill. The mill from which the view is and was of crystal clear blue water making a picturesque little harbor, fishermen and their boats, and brightly painted buildings, innocence and beauty.

Alicudi Casa Mulino

image of Casa Mulino by Silvia Marchetti for CNN Travel

The same mill that for centuries, since the settlers arrived in the 1600s and up until the 1950s, was the source of hallucinogenic bread, baked daily by the local housewives. The bread was contaminated with a brain-bending rye fungus called ergot, the base element of LSD.

The island’s sultry climate was the perfect “natural lab” for the fungus.

Generations of villagers consumed “crazy rye” or “horned rye” (named after the fungus produced black pointed ends that look like devil horns on the rye ears) every day of their lives! The psychedelic fungus wreaked havoc on the locals for centuries.

Every morning the local women would feed their husbands and children LSD bread. Everyone on the island was getting high and tripping every day without knowing it! Long term ergot poisoning can cause mania and psychosis.

Quoted from a CNN Traveler article about LSD Island: “The first harvests were scarce and food was precious so nothing was thrown away, even rotten bread and pasta covered in mold were eaten.

“Scarcity of other alternative food sources and humidity produced this nasty fungus that when ingested caused mass hallucinations, hysteria, hypnosis and autosuggestion.”

Part of their trippy, LSD induced visions included seeing flying women, or witches.

Legend has it that at night the local women would rub ointment on themselves and turn into witches, then fly to Palermo on shopping trips, coming back to the poverty ridden island with sacks full of delicious foods.

The legend also says that cruel witches would cast evil-eye spells on their enemies and sink boats, while other witches could heal babies of stomach worms.

The women of the island worked all day in the fields under the scorching sun, the island was so isolated that they felt caged, desperate and mentally imprisoned, and many had despotic husbands, all of which created another layer of madness, making the concept of flying at night a source of mental freedom. Some women fell off their balconies trying to fly.

Not all the current islanders believe in the LSD bread. Some believe the island really was magic. Stories of talking hemp sacks, defecating ghosts and men turning into donkeys and pigs and cows are also part of the folk lore.

It is all just too fantastic for words! I would go visit Alicudi just to see the paintings of the flying women and to walk in the footsteps of centuries of LSD crazed islanders but for the fact that time on Alicudi reportedly involves scaling 4444 rough steps from the marina to the houses.

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How To Get To The Aeolian Islands

You can get to the Aeolian Islands by hydrofoil and by ferry from Milazzo and by ferry from Palermo on Mainland Sicily. From June through September there are daily overnight ferries from Naples to the islands, and weekly ferries during the rest of the year.

** The overnight ferry to and from Naples is a tremendous way to travel. Naples is best approached and departed by sea. From the deck of a boat watching the sun set over Naples as you move out through the Bay of Naples is breathtakingly beautiful. Equally stunning is arriving into the Bay of Naples with the morning sun. The ferry from Naples arrives in the early morning with stops at Stromboli, Panarea, Lipari and Vulcano before making its way to Milazzo, doing the reverse on the way back at night.

If you want to take the ferry to Naples and there are none running through the Aeolian Islands, you can take the ferry in and out of Palermo and the train from Palermo to Milazzo.

If you are flying to Sicily the closest airport is Catania.


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Sicily's Aeolian Islands

 

Are you looking for a fabulous day trip from Barcelona? Would you like to find a quaint little Catalan town to stay in for a few days or forever? I want to tell you about Girona, an exquisitely beautiful little walled city with a history that dates back to 79 B.C

Girona is incredibly lovely. Situated 99km northeast of Barcelona in the heart of Catalunya, Girona is the perfect place to escape to for a day trip, but also would make a gorgeous home-base for your entire Catalan vacation. While I was walking around soaking up the beauty of this darling town I kept thinking I would like to run away here for a couple of weeks, or even longer.

10 Things You Must Do In Girona

1. Game of Thrones Tour

Girona Game of Thrones

Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Parts of season 6 were filmed in Girona. I haven’t seen season 6 but apparently it was a big deal. Game of Thrones fans can take a walking tour of the filming locations.

Girona Game of Thrones

Apparently the guides even have iPads to show you clips from the show to help you identify the places you are seeing. I haven’t taken the tour but have been told that Viator runs them.

2. Cross the Eiffel Bridge

Eiffel Bridge Girona

 

Two years before he built his famous tower Gustav Eiffel built a bridge in Girona. In December it was covered in yellow ribbons.

Eiffel Bridge Girona Spain

Just seeing the Eiffel Bridge juxtaposed against the prettily colored buildings across the Onyar river is a little surreal, but fittingly magnificent.

Eiffel Bridge Girona Spain

3. Climb the Cathedral Steps

I couldn’t figure out why the cathedral seemed off kilter until I realized it only has one tower! The steps of the Girona cathedral are not only never ending, but also very popular. (If you want a good photo you need to get there first thing in the morning, otherwise you will have stair-climbers in your pictures.)

Girona Cathedral

For those of you who enjoy burning quads and lungs and do make it up to the top, see if you can spot the witch. Legend has it that a witch used to hide up there and throw stones. As punishment she was turned into a gargoyle and now spits rainwater instead of curses. Look for her amongst the gargoyles – she really is up there!

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4. Visit the Arab Baths

I was so disappointed that by the time I actually found the Arab Baths they had closed for the day. I was there in December when they closed at 2 pm. Built in the 12th century in the Romanesque style with Saracen accents, the baths were in use until the end of the 14th century, and then were restored in the 20th century. Famous for their beauty and for the play of light and dark these baths are a must see on your trip to Girona. Just don’t be like me and miss them – go early!

5. Walk the Medieval Walls

Passeig de la Muralla Girona

The Passieg de la Muralla, or the walkway that spans the length of the wall on the eastern border of the old town of Girona give you the advantage of being up high to take in the sweeping views of this beautiful city. The walls don’t circle the city anymore, but you can still have an extended walk. I was advised to go up in the late afternoon after the sun has peaked and is beginning to soften. It made for really beautiful views but not such great photos for an entirely novice photographer. It was however one of my favorite activities while I was there!

Medieval Wall Girona Spain

Of course I got lost and went up from the direction they advise you to go down, but we spent a good hour just exploring the ramparts and soaking up the history before eventually getting to the wall. Along the way we met other people who were equally lost, so I did feel somewhat vindicated!

Girona Spain

View of Girona from the Passeig de la Muralla

 

Medieval wall Girona

I wonder how many arrows were fired through here by soldiers up on the wall, protecting Girona?

Medieval Wall Girona

However you get there and whichever end you start at, go walk the medieval wall.

6. Wander The Jewish Quarter

Girona Spain

The Jewish Quarter, known as El Call, is one of the best preserved in Europe. In the 12th century Girona was home to one of the most important Kabbalistic schools in all of Europe. The Jewish community flourished here from the late 10th century until 1492 when the Catholic Church outlawed Judaism, forcing everyone to either convert or go into exile.

More than 500 years later the maze-like winding alleyways and cobblestoned lanes of El Call are still intact, and wonderful to explore.

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7. Look Along The Onyar

Girona Spain

From any of the many bridges crossing the Onyar the views are just so incredibly pretty. At first glance it reminds me of Florence, but once that semblance passes, this view is the heart of Girona.

 

8. Enjoy A Long, Slow Lunch on La Rambla de la Llibertat

La Rambla Girona

 

We walked all over the old town before stopping for lunch at La Tasca on La Rambla de la Llibertat. La Rambla de la Llibertat was originally a wide market street but now is lined with restaurants and cafes all with tables outside on the pavement under an arbor of trees. It is gorgeous.

Lunch in Girona Spain

It may have been that it was low tourist season, but everywhere we looked it was mostly locals at all the restaurants, which is always a good sign! All were enjoying a long, slow, Catalan lunch, so we did the same.

We were there on my birthday, so in it’s own way it was extra special. To me anyway.

Corinna B in Girona

Catalan food

We had Iberian ham and cheeses, local bread from the bakery across the street, Catalan escargots and a spicy bowl of patates bravas, along with a really incredible local wine and some coffee.

Lunch Girona Spain

It was a Sunday afternoon and a local band was playing Catalan folk music at the far end of La Rambla with the town’s old folks all dancing. It actually felt as though we were extras in a movie. Definitely block off time to enjoy a long lunch in Girona!

9. Kiss The Lion’s Bum

Much like rubbing the Cinghiale’s nose guarantees you will come back to Florence, Girona has its own statue that promises you a return trip. This time instead of a nose rub you need to do some butt kissing.

Girona Lion

“Qui besa el cul de la lleona retorna a Girona”

“Whoever kisses the ass of the lion will return to Girona”

Lion Girona

First you have to find the statue of the lioness in the Placa de Sant Feliu. It could be argued that she is scampering up the pole to get away from tourist lips, but legend has it that if you climb the specially placed steps and plant a big smooch on her derriere you are guaranteed to come back to Girona.

Lions Butt Girona

This town is so completely lovely I just had to kiss the lion’s bum!

The original Romanesque pole and lion were erected in the 12th century. As time passed and legend was created the lion became a lioness. The original statue is in Girona’s Museum of Art, the current statue being erected in 1986.

10. Drink Cava in Plaça Indepencia

My original plan had been to stay at least one night in Girona, but I had to cut the trip short, so ended up just making a day trip. In my overnight plan I was going to end the day in Plaça Indepencia, sipping cava as the sun went down, and maybe starting the next day back there for coffee.

Placa Independencia Girona

This plaça is so pretty with a slightly shabby old world charm. We did manage to end the day in Girona sitting at an outdoor café (next to a heat lamp – it was freezing out!) with a crisp, bubbly glass of local cava. It was one of those glorious travel experiences that becomes a defining travel memory. The view was so lovely, the atmosphere was perfect.

Placa Independencia Girona

It was December so the center of the Plaça was full of Christmas market stalls and local families wandering and stopping for a late afternoon coffee or glass of wine.

Placa Independencia Girona

I really hope that you will take the time to visit Girona, if not for a few days then at least for a day trip from Barcelona.

You can get to Girona by train from the Barcelona Sants station. The regular train takes 54 minutes and the fast train takes 38 minutes. There are 24 trains per day from Barcelona to Girona.

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Are you planning a trip to Paris this year? Have you ever used the Paris Metro? I normally walk everywhere in Paris, or at least walk as much as possible, but sometimes that just isn’t feasible, as half of my day would be spent just getting from point A to point B. My two modes of transport in Paris are Uber and the Metro.

Ubers are everywhere in Paris. I have never had anything less than a 5 star experience with any of my Uber rides, but the cost of uber-ing everywhere adds up. If I have to choose between riding all over Paris in Ubers or buying a new pair of shoes, the Metro and the shoes will win every time!

How to use the paris metro

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When you are in Paris the Metro is not only a quick and easy way to get everywhere, it is also the gateway to exploring the city outside of the tourist areas. A Metro ride out to the 15th or the 20th arrondissements could completely change your view of this exquisite city, stripping away the tourists and letting you wander the streets with the local Parisians.

When I am sitting at a café or bistro I would far rather be people watching Parisians going about their lives than having the view blocked with round after round of tour groups, so for me the Paris Metro is an essential part of every trip to the City of Light.

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If you live in a city with an underground train system, like New York or London, then you already know how to do this. But if you live somewhere that doesn’t have a public transit rail system the thought of using the metro can be a little daunting.

 

HOW TO BUY TICKETS FOR THE PARIS METRO

There are a few different types of tickets you can purchase. A one way ticket within Zone 1, which is for the most part the zone you will be buzzing around in, costs €1.90. You can also buy a book of 10 tickets, called a carnet (pronounced car-nay) which costs €14.50.

Paris Metro Tickets

I personally think that buying a carnet is a great idea if you plan to use the metro often, or a single ticket for a one-time jaunt. There are other passes such as the Paris Visite pass which you can buy for 1,2,3, or 5 consecutive days, but they are not always as cost effective.  A one day Paris Visite pass costs €12.30 so for it to be cost effective you would need to take 6.5 metro rides. For a 5 day Paris Visite pass to be worth the €39.30 cost you would need to take 21 metro rides during that time.

You can buy tickets in the station at the ticket machine or if there is someone working, at the kiosk. Your best bet is to use cash because not all foreign transaction credit and debit cards always work in the machines.

Trains come every few minutes so you don’t need to panic about getting your ticket and making it to the platform on time.

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HOW TO PLAN YOUR METRO ROUTE

Paris Metro

I’m all about making it easy, so I start by googling the closest metro stop to the place I want to go. There are 14 metro lines, each one color coded and numbered.

If I wanted to go to the Louvre I would have the choice of 2 metro stops, either Louvre Rivoli or Palais Royal Musee du Louvre. Both of these stops are on the (yellow) number 1 line.

Inside the station there will be 2 platforms for each line. Assuming I wasn’t changing lines, and was starting my trip on the yellow line, I would just look at the board on the wall next to the entry to each platform. If I was starting my journey at Hotel de Ville I would see on one the board a list of stations ending at la Defense and on the other the list of stations ending at Chateau de Vincennes.

These are the two final stops at either end of the yellow line. Each board will have (in this example) Hotel de Ville as the station we are starting from. I want to go to Palais Royale/Musee du Louvre, so I would see that it was 2 metro stops away on the train going towards la Defense. Easy!

 

If I was at the Louvre and wanted to go to Canal St Martin (my latest favorite neighborhood in Paris) I would see that my closest destination station would be Republique, which is on the brown number 11 line. This means I would need to change trains from the yellow line to the brown line.

 

On the metro map, which is on the wall at every metro station, (you can also pick up a small pocket sized metro map) you can see the yellow (1) line intersects with the brown (11) line at Hotel de Ville. I would get on the metro at the Palais Royale/Musee du Louvre station and take the train that was going toward Chateau de Vincennes, getting off the train at the second stop, Hotel de Ville, and change to the brown (11) train heading towards Mairie. The metro ride from the Louvre to Republique would take about 10 minutes.

If you are changing lines you will see that everything is very clearly marked, and will have arrows pointing

Inside most but not all trains there will be a horizontal metro map for that line over the inside door. You can use this to help you count off the metro stops.

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GET THE APP

I swear there is an app for everything! You can download the Paris Metro app to your smartphone, which not only has the Paris metro map but also has a fantastic route planner feature. You just type in your start point and your destination, and the app does everything else for you! The app works both online and offline too, so you don’t need to worry about being out of a wifi zone.

You can even set it to give you alerts and notifications.

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SAFETY

Any place where there are crowds of people there will be or can be pickpockets and people who want to separate you from your money.

Ideally have the cash for your ticket in your pocket so that you’re not standing around rifling through your open handbag or wallet.

Keep your hand on your handbag at all times, and make sure your handbag is zippered closed. I like to travel with a cross body bag, and in any crowded situation, anywhere that I am traveling, I keep my hand on my bag and my bag held against my body.

I hope you will take a trip to Paris sometime soon and that you will ride the Metro at least once while you are there, not only because it is quick, efficient and inexpensive, but also because it is part of the quintessential Parisian experience!


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