Well, for those that live in Paris anways. I am certain that some of you have heard of the book “French Women Don’t Get Fat” written by Mireille Guiliano. And for those of you who have read it (myself included) it does make some sense: enjoy and savour your food, make smart choices and the like. I have even tried some of the suggestions. I have to admit…a breakfast of bread, brie cheese and yogurt with grapes is induglent and tasty, not to mention filling. However, when arrving in Paris and using their transit system, primarily the metro (subway) and rail systems, the real reason came to light: It’s stairs! Yes, stairs and lots of ’em. When I say “lots of ’em” I really mean that.
So, I had decided a few weeks before leaving that I was going to climb all 710 stairs of the Eiffel Tower on my 40th birthday. I prepared myself for this mentally. Physically this was going to be a milestone for me as I had lost 27 lbs prior to my trip (I have been on a weight loss/healthy self journey). What I wasn’t expecting was the amount of stairs in the transit system!! This was something we became intimate with on our day of arrival, when had decided to use public transit. The route to our hotel included 2 rail stops and a metro stop. Little did we know that it really only required 2 rail stops. Anyways. Our trek from the airport with our luggage was interesting, especially considering that we had been up for almost 24 hours, if not more. It quickly dawned on us that the Paris metro and rail system is NOT luggage friendly, let alone handicapped accessible. The rail stop of Chatelet Les Halles did have elevators, however, at other stops I never noticed any. So, as we switched from line to line we lugged our bags up and down stairs and through ticket entranceways. Some which were rather “skinny” for my rolling garment bag. It required some maneuvering on my part. And of course there was the carrying of the luggage up and down various flights of steps.
It didn’t stop there. Once we were settled and started sightseeing we quickly learned the compelxities and the vastness of the Paris pubic transit system. The things that I found peculiar were that the majority of escalators (where there were escalators) were in the down direction. ????? Why not in the up direction? And then there was the realization we were often far far underground. Stairs decending to the ticket-vending level , walking through long corridors, going down flights of stairs, going along another corridor and then up some stairs only to go down a few more. This may be repeated several times, depending on which station you are at. Now for those of you who live in large metropolitan cities with vast transit systems this is no surprise, so please remember that I live in Vancouver, where there are only 3 rapid transit lines (the Skytrain), one light rail system (TheWest Coast Express) and one water transit line (The Seabus). So 15 subway/metro lines and 5 rail lines is way much larger than what I am accustommed to. And I am sure taht you can guess that I have climbed and descended amounts of stairs that I do not encounter daily. So, I would say that it is fair to say that my natural conclusion is that all these extra stairs in the Paris metro system is the REAL reason that french women don’t get fat. That and the 1.5 hour lunch and 2.5 hour dinner where everything is savoured. I also know it to be true because with the amount of rich food and wine that I ingested there is no way I could have gained only 1.8 lbs if I hadn’t acseneded all those cursed stairs (that I am secretly grateful for)! Ah yes, hoofing it really does pay off!