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walk left or right?

nashville
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walk left or right?

in the US when meeting another person, the rule is that you go right -- of course, this doesn't always work and the dance ensues -- but generally people tend to walk to the right like they drive right and this makes sidewalks etc somewhat smooth

I cannot figure out the 'rule' if any in Paris -- people seem as likely to veer left as they approach as right -- yet not always

is the 'rule' in Paris go left? or is there no rule? or what is it?

Lyon, France
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for Lyon
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1. Re: walk left or right?

Paris is a jungle, Grace, there are no rules ! I am kidding...

More seriously. There is not such rule, but there is one other you may notice : when you take an escalator, you have to stand at the right as most people are able to overtake on your left.

USA
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2. Re: walk left or right?

There are no pedestrian '..passing lane..' rules in any large city. But, since the overwhelming majority of people in any city will be right-handed, the natural tendency of most right-handed people is to move to THEIR right.

The only reason I never got to be the starting second baseman for the NY Yankees was that I could never go to my left especially well...oh....and the fact that I couldn't even see a major league fast ball coming...no less hit it...may have had a bit to do with it too.

Paris 4th Arr
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3. Re: walk left or right?

This is a DAILY issue for me and I'm probably a little biased. I was always taught and I've always subscribed to the 'stay to the right' rule to make sharing sidewalks doable. Even in New York, there was something of a collective conscience on the subject. When it rained, New Yorkers seemed to automatically "bob" their umbrellas to avoid collisions. It just doesn't happen here. And with the exception of confused tourists, the business districts in NY seemed to have a sense of "flow" and mutual consideration on sidewalks.

In Paris people seem to just walk a straight line to wherever they're headed without regard to the flow of pedestrian traffic arround them. When the crossing light turnes green, it's every man for himself. It drives me crazy that the simplicity and logic of "stay to the right" is lost on most of the people in this city.

But then I have to remind myself that Paris is probably the most diverse cultural concentration in the world and some cultures have their steering wheels on the right side of the car. Add to that the sheer number of tourists from every culture on the planet and you have to be prepared to cut everyone some slack.

It still makes me crazy. I'm totally a "keep right" kind of guy.

I HAVE learned that avoiding eye-contact and appearing distracted when encountering oncoming pedestrians crossing the street is the key to avoiding collisions.

USA
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4. Re: walk left or right?

At sea, vessels meeting head-on, on opposing courses passing in close proximity, are supposed to pass port-to-port...red-to-red. Now if everyone would just wear little red and green lights on their left-port and right-starboard shoulders...there'd be no problem.

Kelowna, B.C.
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5. Re: walk left or right?

Boy this upcoming trip to Paris is starting to sound pretty complicated. I thought that the only notes that I might have to keep on me were about the sights that I wanted to see. Now I have dress rules, kissing rules and even walking rules (by the way, I never knew there were rules for French kissing but I digress). Let me see if I have it straight: Walk to the Right, Kiss first on the right and dress right in the way your wife tells you. I am doing ok?

Paris 4th Arr
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6. Re: walk left or right?

Mexifried, yes, that's right.

Florida
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7. Re: walk left or right?

Parisians have a natural radar for detecting foreigners on the sidewalk and will never move over for you. They subconsciously know that you will always be the one to move.

The best you can hope for, if you don't want to be constantly dodging other people, is to avert your eyes and pretend you don't see anyone coming your way and just keep walking. (a game of 'poulet' if you will).

Washington state
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8. Re: walk left or right?

Mexifried --

Right on.

Paris 4th Arr
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9. Re: walk left or right?

The game of "poulet" is the appropriate survival skill here.

nashville
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10. Re: walk left or right?

Mexifried -- I think you may be confused about the meaning of 'dressing right'

and yes I do believe that there is a game of chicken going on and perhaps it is more often directed at foreigners --- my favorites are people who stroll arm in arm and expect other couples approaching to move into the street -- I have adopted a sort of kamikaze approach -- I move to accommodate one but not two and let them either get plowed into or move -- (this problem is somewhat worse in Italy in my experience where many people will just plow through you rather than adjust to allow both to pass)

my recent favorite -- two women with two tiny toddlers stretched across and completely blocking metro stairs down as people were rushing to trains -- going at the rate that tiny toddlers could master steps -- there was a lot of dirty looks from passengers nearly tripping over them

and then there was the unmuzzled dog growling and snapping on the metro today -- people were literally moving to the ends of the car to avoid this animal whose owner had minimal leash control and was carrying the muzzle (having my throat ripped out by a wolf/dog hybrid on the Paris metro does seem like a noteworthy way to go -- probably make the headlines in my local paper)