It’s no secret that I avoid the metro almost religiously. As convenient as it can be, I don’t like to risk bomb threats, accident grave de voyageur, or the inevitable creepy old man with his hand ‘conspicuously’ hidden under his trench coat. At least if I can help it.
I also prefer to stay above ground in order to, well, see where I am going. Riding buses & bicycles is how I spotted some favorite restos & parks around town. Also, I find it terribly difficult to breathe properly in the metro. The smells, the congestion, the humidity–the metro has killed many an appetite, and sometimes nearly the desire to live.
So imagine how happy this island girl was to discover that her new apartment would be on a quai–otherwise known as about 3 feet from a somewhat clean body of water. (No, not the Seine. I would never call the Seine clean. We are on the Marne.) NOT ONLY this, but there was an actual BOAT run by the RATP called the Vogueo. What a concept ! I was well familiar with the tourist boats which cost around 10 euros, and do an hour long fly-by of the center of Paris, but I had no idea there was a boat run by the public transport authorities and catering to commuters.
The boat has it’s terminus at Maisons Alfort-Ecole Veterinaire, quite convenient for yours truly. It passes by amazing suburban landmarks such as Chinagora (seen above). Chinagora, otherwise known as ‘creepygora’ in my household, is an old asian-themed hotel/shopping/restaurant complex. I’m sure it was a good idea at it’s core, but I think someone was far too ambitious, and it went under. The hotel is still open, serving terribly unlucky tour groups mostly from Germany and Japan. But the restaurant and shopping center are closed and deserted, and at this point I’m surprised no one has tried to film a horror movie there yet.
On this scenic ride we also pass in front of the mysterious Gare Frigorifique at Bercy–the old refrigerated train station which has been the subject of many ghost stories, as well as serving as a squat for several years.
We also have some nice views of the National Library (above), as well as the government building housing the Ministers of Finance and Economy (below). If you squint really hard, you can see the president’s speed boat hanging out under that overpass.
So why am I writing about the Vogueo, other than to tell you that exists ? Well, to tell you that it exists. The Vogueo was put into place as an experiment, trying to take some heat off of the metro traffic in Ivry and Maisons Alfort. The experiment was deemed unsuccessful, and the Vogueo was set to discontinue service. The government of Maisons Alfort lobbied on it’s behalf, claiming that the Vogueo, not unlike the entire Metro system, would not make money until it tapped into the tourist’s wallets. And let’s face it, not a lot of tourists come to Maisons Alfort. (Though for the life of me I can’t understand why. We have a veterinary museum!)
There are discussions being held to extend the Vogueo service to Suresnes–all the way on the other end of the city. Right now it stops at Maisons Alfort, Ivry, Bercy, Bibliotheque, and Gare d’Austerlitz (below). If it were to serve the center of Paris, it would be an inexpensive alternative to the tourist boats, therefore becoming more cost effective. Also, it would be easier for one blogger girl from Maine to get to the center of the city without having to take the dreaded metro.
So if you find yourself near Gare d’Austerlitz on a nice day, please hop on the Vogueo for a ride. You can get off at the Library, or Ivry to do your shopping at the closest full size Carrefour to Paris. Or you could even head all the way to the terminus and come over to mine for a margarita on the terrace. In any case, please help me help the Vogueo stay in business. Don’t make me take the metro ! The metro sucks !
For information on hours, prices, and a route map: