The Metro, Paris' underground public transport system, has 14 different lines serving more than 300 stations.

On a recent visit to the City of Light, Insider got on at, stopped at, transferred at, connected at or passed by more than half of these stations, according to her calculations.

Although signage, cleanliness, lighting, platform space and map sizes at each station were uniformly excellent, two stations in particular were artistic standouts.

Each reflected either an historic event or a main attraction. If Insider ran the world, she would see to it that awards were handed out for Paris' Most Visually Pleasing Metro Stations.

The envelope, please:

  • Bastille. The vibrantly painted tiles depict dramatic scenes of the uprising of Parisians in 1789 and the storming of the Bastille prison.
  • Concorde. Each of the white wall tiles at this station contains a blue capital letter.
  • Although the tiles march in straight lines on the walls and over the ceiling, their placement seems random at first glance.

    Ah, mais non! Look carefully. The letters taken in order form a word or phrase appropriate to the Place de la Concorde above, scene of hundreds of executions during the Reign of Terror in the 1790s.

    Aside from the historic and cultural benefits of traveling on the Metro, that mode of transport eliminates any need for a visitor to drive a car within the city limits of Paris.

    It's a no-brainer.

    Quotable quotes

    The annual Caribbean hotel conference in Cancun produced some memorable quotes from industry execs.

    In his final speech as president of the Caribbean Hotel Association, Ed Malone suggested that hoteliers on each island "spend at least one less day on the golf course each month to dedicate to your industry's future."

    "Your [golf] handicap may go up, but our industry and your business will be enhanced by your renewed interest," Malone said.

    During a workshop session, Ralph Taylor, CHA's new leader and chairman of Almond Beach Resorts in Barbados and Jamaica, discussed the role played by inclusive resorts in the region.

    "Some resorts are inclusive, some resorts are partly inclusive and some resorts just don't know what they are," he said.

    At an Air Jamaica press lunch, Allen Chastanet, vice president of marketing and sales for the airline, stood up between the soup and salad courses to talk about market share.

    He looked at the media who were slurping, sipping and chatting.

    "Go ahead and eat," Chastanet said. "I'm quite accustomed to people ignoring me."

    The man knew his audience.

    Secretary story

    In a Washington talk to the National Academy Foundation, including a lot of teachers and sponsors of the Academy of Travel and Tourism, Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman recalled how hard it was for her to get her first job when she graduated from college.

    "I had grown up in Mobile, Ala., and graduated from Xavier in New Orleans," she said. "Then I went back to Mobile to look for my first job.

    "It was hard to find a job, in part because I was black and in part because I was a woman.

    "One man told me he might be able to give me a job as a clerk or perhaps a typist or maybe even a secretary.

    "I didn't go to work for him, but I've often wanted to look him up and tell him that I became a Secretary."

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