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In my earlier post Getting to Lionel’s shop I referred to a possible transportation choice using the RER.  A conscientious reader said “huh?”.  I’ve neglected/avoided mentioning this additional transportation option for getting around in Paris.  The RER is an actual train service.  For my Palo Alto friends it’s equivalent to CalTrain, sort of.

RER Trains

RER Trains

Within Paris the RER acts as an underground train and can be used in a similar fashion to the underground metro.  The RER acronym stands for <<Réseau Express Régional>> which turns out to be easier to pronounce than <<R E R>>.  The French and English languages share almost the same alphabet.  The French make their alphabet prettier with accessorized letters, such as ç, è, á, î, ü, and my favorite œ which isn’t so much an accessorized letter but two letters smushed together.  However, even letters that look the same are not remotely pronounced the same. Speakers, beware!

Why is it easier for non-French speakers to pronounce <<Réseau Express Régional>> than <<R E R>>?  Because without other letters around the acronym you need to pronounce the individual letters R E R which look like English letters but aren’t.  The French “R” is pretty tricky, but the “E” between the two “R”s makes the spoken combination extra tricky.  You are welcomed to poke around the web for pronunciation sites and practice at your leisure. I suggest you set aside an hour or two.  BTW, I’ve never heard a native French speaker refer to the train system as Réseau Express Régional.  If you expect to use the RER, you’ll have to train your ears and perhaps even your mouth.  Maybe you should consider daily practice at that pronunciation site you’ve found.

Regional Trains run through Paris

Regional Trains run through Paris

There are 5 RER train lines (listed A-E).  Line “B” (in blue) runs from the CDG airport into Paris.  Line “C” (in yellow) runs nears places I’m interested in.  Using the RER doesn’t cost any more than using the subway or the bus if you travel in zone 1; ie., the visitors’ area of Paris.  Sometimes the RER really is the fastest and most direct transportation choice.  However, taking the RER within Paris puts you underground.  If you’re a Paris loving tourist like me you really don’t want to be beneath the most beautiful city on the planet.