I was in the Paris metro and the train got stopped due to a suspicious package. I didn't understand the broadcast message because it was in French. I only became aware of this after everyone went out and some other passenger told me what happened. Now I am really curious what the broadcast message is for such situations (so I can listen to it repeatedly and recognize it next time).

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    Was it a pre-recorded message or was it a live announcement?
    – gerrit
    Oct 5, 2023 at 8:00
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    There would probably have been a combination of “colis”, “bagage” or “sac” and “suspect” or “abandonné”.
    – jcaron
    Oct 5, 2023 at 8:08
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    I once was in CDG airport in Paris when a bomb threat came through and they had to evacuate the terminal. Despite CDG being the 10th largest airport in the world, every announcement was in French only. NOT A SINGLE ANNOUNCEMENT WAS IN ENGLISH. As a result pandemonium ensued since almost know one knew what to do, where to go or what was happening in the first place. It took forever to get everyone out and back in again. Fortunately there was no actual bomb, otherwise the carnage would have terrible.
    – Hilmar
    Oct 5, 2023 at 11:50
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    @Leaderboard: how so? The de-facto common language of international travel is English. The norm is that all announcements at an international airport will be in English and the local language(s) (and maybe the languages of the airline and destination for a specific flight). I would assume announcements in the UK would be in English which meets expectations since it just happens to be both the local language and the international travel language
    – Hilmar
    Oct 5, 2023 at 13:18
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    @JonathanReez the 2006 Madrid-Barajas bombing comes to mind as a counterexample, as that came with an hour's notice during which an evacuation took place. Oct 6, 2023 at 3:03

3 Answers 3


The key word is 'colis suspect' (which is the translation of your question), but as stated by Frank, it would rarely be announced by the driver, but instead will be written on the station's screens, and sometime announced on station speakers (which 9 times out of 10, you won't be able to hear/understand while in the train, even as a native French).

Other keywords:
Incident/accident voyageur (they are calling an ambulance).
Accident grave voyageur (they won't bother with ambulance).

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    (+1) It seems the actual phrase used by the RATP is “accident grave de voyageur“. I looked it up because I initially didn't believe it for several reasons (“accident grave voyageur“ is not grammatical in French, the SNCF uses the phrase “accident de personne”, which is not limited to passengers) but it turns you were right that they do use something very close to that.
    – Relaxed
    Oct 27, 2023 at 15:32
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    I also learned that, like “accident de personne”, “accident grave de voyageur“ is about a collision with the train or a limb stuck in the doors. Apparently, they also use “malaise important” if someone dies on a train for another reason.
    – Relaxed
    Oct 27, 2023 at 15:34

If the announcement was only made in French, it means it was made by the metro driver. They have the discretion on the exact phrasing of the announcement, so we can’t guess it. Your best bet is to follow the crowd or use some live translation app (but that’ll likely have issues handling the announcement audio quality).


The term is "colis suspect" (koh-lee sus-pay) or "colis abandonné", (koh-lee aban-donnay). However, you should be aware that this sort of announcement has somewhat become of a meme in France, in the sense that the situation will never be handled by authorities or anyone else in a way that makes sense if the package had a reasonable chance of being an actual bomb. There even was an incident earlier this year with a passenger opening the "colis" themselves because they knew it would make the train late for no reason.

Statistically, you ought to be far more worried about crossing the street in Paris than of any terrorist act. If you don't experience anxiety over crossing the street, then you shouldn't with this either.

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