Sunday, December 6, 2015

Etiquette of French Railways, 1902

The following hints on points of railway customs and etiquette in connection with which trouble often ensues, may not, perhaps, be superfluous. 

French Railway Customs 
A Seat May Be Held By Leaving a Coat in It

It is to be feared that many English and American travelers in France expect to find the same laws and regulations obtaining on French railways as they are accustomed to at home: and when they find that they are very different they are apt to resent it—an attitude which occasionally results in collision with the officials. The following hints on points of railway customs and etiquette in connection with which trouble often ensues, may not, perhaps, be superfluous. 

Claims to a seat —The right to a seat, which has been engaged by placing upon it a coat or some other article, has actually been legalized by a recent test case in the French law courts, while the right in England depends, of course, solely upon custom, and cannot be enforced. Not only this, but in France each passenger is legally entitled to the use of that portion of the rack and floor imemdiately above or below his seat.

Control of windows—English travelers often complain of the tendency of French travelers to keep the windows closed unnecessarily. It is the best policy to put up with this annoyance, as an appeal to the guard will not as a rule be successful. His sympathies are likely to be with his compatriots, who regard the love of English people for open windows as a foolish fad, and one, too, which is dangerous to health. 

Smoking carriages—The rule for smoking on French railways is the reverse of that which obtains in England. Though carriages for fumeurs are provided, smoking is permitted in any carriage with the consent of the occupant, and in practice almost every compartment except those labeled dames seules is a smoking one. 

Tips to porters—English travelers are apt to inveigh against the greed and rapacity of French porters, especially at Paris stations. This is probabiy due to ignorance of the fact that at Paris termini the facteur who fetches a cab from outside the station—and this is usually necessary—is entitled to a gratuity. And in Paris one franc is customary. This being the case, the traveler who presents him with a few coppers (which would be civilly accepted at a London station) must not be surprised if he is confronted with black looks. 

Customs examination —At Calais, Boulogne or Dieppe the traveler should be on i his guard against accepting the services of a man in semi-uniform (not a porter), who will offer to see the traveler's luggage through the customs. His services will cost you a fee of 2s. 6d. —London Travel, 1902

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