The smells of France: scorched rubber

2015-12-02 10.12.53
A plaque on the wall of the metro station by my house explaining the phenomenon of the aerial stations in Paris. Picture source: me.

The metro station by my apartment smells like something scorched in the morning. I’ve never been able to imagine why–the entire thing is built of metal, glass, and concrete.

The station is on a line that’s unusual in that part of it is aérienne–above ground, and in fact elevated, like the Chicago L.  The idea behind building some of the lines like this is that one can avoid the expense of underground excavation by building over the routes of the old viaducts.

Both of the aerial lines–2 and 6–offer nice views of Paris at some point of their route.

That smell of scorched something?  It might be rubber–some Googling reveals the fact that my line has rolled on rubber wheels since 1974.

Here are some words that Zipf’s Law brings us by way of the plaque mounted on the wall of the station, pictured above. Definitions from

  • aérien(ne): air, aerial; (of cables or machinery) overhead; (of a track) elevated; ethereal.
  • notamment: especially, particularly, in particular; including, such as, for example, for instance
  • circulaire: circular; (of a ticket) round-trip.
  • le tracé: outline, drawing; route.
  • économiser: to save, economize.
  • le percement: opening.
  • le tunnel: tunnel; also, a difficult period; also, an advertising break.
  • édifier: to build, to construct.
  • le viaduc: viaduct.

There are lots more Zipf’s Law-type words on the sign, but this is a lot for one day, so let’s leave it at that. See the Wikipedia articles on lines 2 and 6 for specifics of where to get nice views of Paris on these lines.

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