N’oublie pas de composter ton billet.

N’oublie pas de composter ton billet.

noo-blee pahd kaw-pus-tay taw bee-YAY. Click below to hear this.*

Don’t forget to punch your ticket.

In France, train travel is fast, efficient, and on time. That’s what the SNCF (Société Nationale des chemins de fer) is famous for. In most respects, it’s like any train system anywhere, only better: buy your ticket, get on the train, sit back and relax.

But there’s one little hitch, which, if you fail to attend to it, could get you into trouble: N’oublie pas de composter ton billet.

This is not about recycling or being eco-friendly. Maybe you could compost a cardboard ticket, but some of them are plastic. Nor is it about gardening. They don’t furnish railroad stations with compost bins, though in a fanciful other-world maybe the train platforms could have flagstone paths winding through a colorful blooming riot, with compost bins tucked discreetly in a corner.

No, back to reality. This just means to punch your ticket. As you leave the station building and step onto the platform, you must insert your ticket into the machine and have it stamped or punched. Here’s a composteur from the 1980s. Newer ones are sleeker and have much more functionality:

You are not supposed to be on the train without a billet composté, and some conductors get bent out of shape if your ticket is intact. Not a good way to start out a trip!

*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file:

composter_ton_billet.mp3

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