Written by Swati
February 17th, 2023
When in doubt: hop in a moving vehicle. Wait, maybe not literally. I am a big proponent of changes of scenery, and there’s something particularly comforting about seeing some new faces and watching trees pass from a moving window. Something about galavanting through the world on public transport makes you feel limitless, just unstoppable.
Many of you know this by now, but public transport in Europe is far and wide. As current GTE students gear up to start our spring breaks, let’s talk a little more about the modes of public transport you’ll be frequenting as a student and how to navigate them! As with anything, understanding train lines, bus routes, and flight terminals take time, but doing a little bit of reading ahead of time will definitely ease some of the anxiety.
Shuttle: On Monday evenings, GTE has a personal shuttle waiting at the bus stop in front of Cora for students to catch back to campus after their weekly grocery shop! While I don’t frequent Cora any longer (see: C’est pas drôle from a few weeks ago) and favor the much smaller and more palatable Auchan, the benefits of having shuttle waiting to take you back to campus with a week’s worth of groceries instead of making the 20 minute trek back can really make a difference for your shoulders after a long day of class.
Buses: The GTE campus and primary dorms are situated nearby many of the city’s bus stops running routes to places in downtown Metz like the train station, the Centre Pompidou, Metz Cathedral, and other neighborhoods along the way. Most bus routes can be found on transportation apps Moovit and Omio, but I’ve found Google Maps to be linked to the routes and times perfectly. When you get on the bus, you’ll tap your bus card, a blue pass with options for 1-way, round-trip, 10-way, and monthly passes purchased through Le Met. You can grab a 1-way or round trip pass directly from the bus driver when you enter the bus, or purchase a 1-way, round trip, or 10 way pass at any bus stop downtown! You can also purchase unlimited monthly passes at Le Met’s store downtown, but seeing as how I haven’t quite figured that one out yet, I’ve found the 10-way passes to work best for me. Make sure you remember to tap your card as public service workers frequent buses with a scanner to check that passengers all have valid bus passes that they used to get on the bus. If you haven’t tapped a pass, you’re subject to a hefty fine!
Trains: My personal favorite! Trains run far and wide and Metz is the perfect location to easily get to different countries and cities, especially with a Eurail pass! It takes less than an hour to get to Luxembourg, my first stop to catch a flight on my spring break adventure, and under 5 hours to get to cities in Belgium, Amsterdam, Switzerland, and Germany! With Paris just an hour away, you’re free to hop on and catch the Eiffel Tower sparkling after class (just make sure to get a reservation beforehand!)
Be aware that while Eurail passes essentially function as train tickets across Europe, there are high-volume cities and countries you’ll need to reserve seats for! France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal are included in the places that require seat reservations for an extra fee! You won’t be able to board a train to major destinations in these countries without a copy (physical or digital) of your reservation alongside your Eurail pass.
Flights: It’s no secret RyanAir and EasyJet have European college students in the palms of their hands. With strongholds in smaller airports, expect a bit of a trek to and from these cheap flight hubs. RyanAir runs in several airports in France, but the one you’ll probably see as the most relevant is the airport in Beauvais. A tiny little thing with just 2 terminals, I spent the day exploring Beauvais prior to my flight to Scotland and left a little piece of my heart in the city. You won’t need to get to the airport any more than an hour to an hour and a half ahead of your flight because it’s so small and there’s really only one restaurant inside and another little shop with snacks and magazines next to it. Many tend to lean away from this airport as it is two train transfers away from Metz, but I loved the city too much to have anything bad to say about it. It has a similar small French town charm of Metz with a breathtaking cathedral and tourist stops along the way. Many favor the Luxembourg airport for its proximity, but I’d recommend taking just one flight out of Beauvais if there’s a destination you’d like to go to that flights out of Luxembourg don’t reach!
It’s no secret that the accessible, well-managed, and often clean methods of public transportation make Europe a well-oiled machine. With enough patience and willpower, you too can soon be on 15-hour long train journeys to Prague or Rome! Me on the other hand, I prefer to swap off between trains and airplanes based on time and cost efficiency. Happy traveling!