“Let’s stay civil …”

I complain a good bit about the Paris Métro: despite its art nouveau charm, it’s often a crowded, noisy, and filthy experience. I usually don’t give the RATP (the company that operates the transit system) much credit either, but I have to tip my hat to the recently launched third generation of its “civility” campaign, “Restons civils sur toute la ligne” (“Let’s stay civil on the whole line”). Like earlier “seasons,” the campaign uses clever little “proverbs” and animal characters to remind passengers how to conduct themselves in the Métro … and the subtle nod to the fables of La Fontaine is so, so apropos for a French audience. The ads also integrate graphics representing transit lines into the proverbs. Only time will tell if the campaign will have any real impact on the daily transit experience, but until it does, we can at least enjoy the ads …

My favorite from the current campaign: the tortoise …

“He who travels with a load on his back removes his backpack to bother less.” © RATP

Another ad from this season: the “inseparable” lovebirds …

“He who coos in the middle of the passage necessarily blocks the way.” © RATP

You can see more images from the first and second seasons of the campaign in the gallery below:
To open the gallery, simply click on one of the photos below (or on a white space if nothing appears). You will then be able then scroll through all of the photos in a larger format.

In addition to the big ads you see on the Métro billboards, there are also smaller announcements that appear inside the trains and in other venues:

"Two 'good days' make a good day."
“Two ‘good days’ (hellos) make a good day.” © RATP
"He who phones discretely makes more than one passenger happy."
“He who phones discretely makes more than one passenger happy.” © RATP

Not surprisingly, this clever campaign has engendered a hilarious satirical response, which you can check out here: “Restons débiles sur toute la ligne” (“Let’s stay stupid on the whole line”). Here’s a little sample for you:

"When it's 8 inches away, the trip is a lot more 'rustic.'"
“When it’s 8 inches away, the trip is a lot more ‘rustic.'” © 2011 les Demoiselles de Paris

Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy the ride …

© 2013 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

4 thoughts on ““Let’s stay civil …”

  1. I find this campaign necessary, and very clever. it is a proven fact that Parisians have a high opinion of themselves and would prefer to be treated as “intelligent” human beings, than just told what to do… Most will relate to these, and will be entertained by them, at least for a while. Yet, I wonder if the people targeted by the campaign will actually give a turtle’s derrière about the message… Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. It’s an infinitely clever campaign: the witty messages, the graphics, the allusion to La Fontaine’s fables. Unfortunately, I suspect you’re right about the practical effect. As in many situations, the offending parties in public transportation often don’t give a turtle’s derrière (I love that!) about what they’re doing wrong, either because they’re generally oblivious or because they affirmatively don’t care about the mess they’re making. Let’s hope the campaign raises awareness and increases peer pressure at the same time!

    2. Oh, and I forgot to mention that RATP has initiated a campaign in the schools (6e and 5e, that’s about 6th and 7th grade in the US, I believe) on the importance of civility in public transportation. It’s discussed in detail on the RATP site. Once again, a tip of the hat for that!

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