Lyon metro secret: Paying it forward

I used to live in the Croix Rousse neighborhood in Lyon. It’s up on a hill, bordered by Lyon’s two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône. (It doesn’t look like they should rhyme, but they pretty much do.) Anyone who lives in Croix Rousse will tell you it’s the best neighborhood of Lyon – I’ve met longtime residents who didn’t refer to themselves at Lyonnais, but Croix Roussian.  It’s also known as the fourth arrondissement, but no one but the post office calls it that.

This one is the Saône, and the hill with all those little red roofs is la Croix Rousse.
This one is the Saône, and the hill with all those little red roofs is Croix Rousse.

Croix Rousse is like it’s own little village up on the hill over Lyon. It’s known for its silk-weaving history, les canuts. A lot of apartments in Croix Rousse have high ceilings and mezzanines because when all the silk weavers were weaving their silk up on the hill, they needed high ceilings. I’ve also heard that they are the reason behind Lyon’s famous traboules, which are essentially little tunnels through buildings. They ultimately became important during WWII, but the silk weavers just used them to stay out of the rain. Rain is bad for silk, apparently.

Croix Rousse

Anyway, Croix Rousse is cool for lots of reasons, and if you visit Lyon, you definitely need to hike up that hill (it’s really not that bad) and wander around. Or if you’re lazy, you could take the metro, and maybe you’ll benefit from this tip I’m about to share with you.

In Lyon, your metro ticket is valid for an hour. That means if you take the metro somewhere, go run an errand or what have you, and then want to get back on the metro less than an hour after you first validated the ticket, you can use the same ticket to board the metro the second time. (I don’t think it works this way in Paris, and that is disappointing.)

Since Lyon is not a huge city, it usually doesn’t take more than 20-30 minutes to get most places on public transport. In the Croix Rousse metro stop, people leave their still-useable tickets at the entrance when they leave the station. Then when the next person comes along, they can grab the ticket and use it to get on the metro. How’s that for collaborative consumption?

Ever since I discovered this, I always leave my metro ticket when I get off the train, unless I’m planning to go somewhere else in the next hour. You can leave a ticket or look for a ticket at any metro station – I just happen to frequent the Croix Rousse metro, and I haven’t noticed tickets up for grabs at other metro stops.

I’m a supporter of the sharing economy so I love this kind of stuff, but for me the best (okay, second best after the free metro tickets) is that this a little thing that people do for their community, just to be nice. There’s no immediate payoff – they’re paying it forward.

And as minor as it is, I like to do little things like this to pay it forward. It reminds me to be more generous and less stingy. We’ll start with used metro tickets and work up from there, okay?

10 thoughts on “Lyon metro secret: Paying it forward

  1. Hi – I have been enjoying your posts for several weeks now, and look forward to future ones. This post created enough reaction in me to post my own thoughts. I’m unsure of the proper blogging protocol as to whether I should have linked to your post, but I thought it best to state my opinion separately so as not to cause you discomfort. If I should have proceeded differently, I’m sure some experienced blogger will tell me, and I will learn from that.

    1. Hi Sammy! Thanks for reading my blog. I’m new at this (my little experiment!) and I always appreciate your comments. I read your post and I thought you did a lovely job of tactfully expressing an opposing opinion. I see where you’re coming from. I’m inclined to say that the scope of these leftover tickets is so minuscule that I can’t see it having an impact on the system as a whole, but I sense it’s more the principle of it that concerns you. I will say that I do still buy metro tickets, and that most people subscribe to a monthly pass, which is very affordable when you’re locally employed. But it is true that it’s important to recognize the scope of impact of our actions and choices and to consciously decide what is right based on that. Thanks for bringing it up!

      1. Thank you so much for your kind response, and I’m so happy to know that I didn’t offend you. I’m new at this, too, and use my blog to escape the controversies of the “real world” so that was part of my anxiety in even posting it. You’ve made me feel much better!

        You are so right – what I’d done on Lyon is minuscule and actually generous. I’m sure my reaction was both “principle” and being so alarmed at what is happening here in the states. We are moving inexorably closer to a social welfare state where the administration is making it all too easy for everyone to be on some type of government program which is always touted as “free” as if ordinary citizens like me aren’t paying for those bloated programs!

        Anyway, thank you again, and I’m very glad to move forward to wherever your lovely travels take me next 🙂

  2. So I know this post is forever old, but I read it when I first found out I’d be doing TAPIF near Lyon… anyway. I often see guys collecting people’s tickets with time still on them at Part Dieu. And they’re not just taking one and using it. They’re collecting handfuls. Any insight?? I’m so curious if they’re scalping them or what (that seems highly unlikely).

    Also, one of my proudest moments was when I validated my ticket at Part Dieu for my OFII appointment, got there and had the appointment, then made it to Perrache within the hour and reused the same ticket. 🙂

    1. They are probably collecting them to sell at a discount. There are some ladies at Hotel de Ville who always do that. Kind of takes away from the spirit of paying it forward!!!

      I am super impressed with your speed on public transport and also really impressed by the efficiency of OFII!!

      1. That’s so interesting. They’d have such a narrow window to turn it around and sell it. Definitely crushes some of my warm fuzzy feelings about the concept.

        I (unintentionally) found the OFII secret. Have your appointment on New Years Eve at 3pm when they all are dying to get out of there! Efficiency like you’ve never dreamed in France.

      2. I know, and I would rather just buy a new ticket personally than pay for a used one… but up in Croix Rousse and a lot of other places, no one scoops up donated tickets to sell that I’ve seen. So that’s good!

        Haha too funny about OFII employees speeding everything up to get home for New Years Eve!

  3. Reading through your older Lyon posts before I started reading your blog. This is good to know! It was this way in Marseille as well. No idea if it’s still the case now, but it was the last time I was there…. far too many years ago now unfortunately.

    1. I have the intention to blog more about Lyon (of course, I always have good intentions when it comes to blogging but…) I love that people share their metro tickets in Lyon. I don’t like it when people stand at the exit and take them all (to resell them for cheap, I think?) So not in the spirit of sharing!

      The first time I went back to Paris after I moved to Lyon, I forgot that you can’t reuse metro tickets within the hour there, and I smacked right into the turnstile. Oops.

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