A while back when I asked my husband what he liked best about our May visit to Paris, he replied, "Riding the buses."
Today, workers in Paris' public transport system are on strike. (Strikes usually last only 24 hours in France, another idea the French got right, in my opinion.)
Transit workers don't like Sarkozy's plans for reforming pensions. Who can blame them?
But this blog is not about politics.
Today it's about Paris buses. I agree with my husband. Although we've ventured down into the metro to buy carnets, we prefer the buses. If you are a newcomer to Paris, riding a bus helps you get your bearings. It orients you to the maze of streets. It sets your internal compass.
We took more than 52 bus rides on our last trip to Paris. Our favorites are the No. 69 and 63, which lumber across the center of Paris, but the photo above was taken from the No. 42, another favorite. (The light in that photo looks autumnal to me.) One of my favorite rides is also the No. 62, which cuts a tidy swath across the bottom of Paris.
I have found Paris bus drivers to be polite and courteous. For the most part, so are the passengers. I love the LED readouts that tell you how long it will take to get to the end of the line, and I like the recorded voice that indicates the next stop.
My little town long ago lost its bus service. When I moved to Madison, I lived downtown near a bus stop and often left my windows ajar so I could hear the big Grummans of the Madison Metro fleet belch and lurch their way across the isthmus.
I did my grocery shopping by bus, a wearisome task, let me tell you. Today I have a vehicle that does everything but take the bags from the cart and stash them away.
Still, I miss those buses. . .