If you plot the known Dutch-Paris addresses for Lyon and Paris on maps, you’ll notice an interesting difference. In Lyon they’re close by each other in the same part of town, but in Paris they’re spread out across the entire city.

All but one of the Dutch-Paris addresses in Lyon lie in what is known as the Presqu’ile, or peninsula, between the Rhone and Saone rivers. A courier coming into Lyon would have arrived at the Perrache train station, walked northward to the grand Place Bellecour and then on into the shopping and residential district, going no more than a few streets further north than the Hotel de Ville. Even a Dutch refugee who’d never been to France before would have been able to find the Dutch Consulate close to Place Bellecour or the Office for Dutch Assistance in the monumental commercial building of the Bourse. It couldn’t have taken John Weidner himself more than half an hour to walk from the train station to his hotel on the rue Sainte Catherine if he was enjoying the window shopping along the way.

But Paris is another story altogether. Evading airmen hid in the basement of the physics laboratories of the Ecole normale superieur in the fifth arrondissement near the Pantheon while the woman who organized their escape lived across the city in the fifteenth arrondissement. She could not have walked from one place to the other in a mere half an hour. All the known addresses are similarly either scattered far from each other or right next door to each other.

But Paris is like that. Not only was it much larger than Lyon in the 1940’s, but the French rail system was built so that it was impossible to travel from the north of the country to the south, east or west without getting out of a train at the Gare du Nord and crossing the city to a different train station to board a second train. It’s a long and confusing walk to most of the other stations, even in daylight and with a map; the one exception being the Gare de l’Est with departures for Germany, a less popular station at the time. So in Paris, you either risked getting lost on a long walk or took the metro or a bus. It was, quite simply, harder and more tiring to navigate through Paris than through Lyon.

But it’s not just the inherent differences between the two cities that explain the differences in the Dutch-Paris maps. John Weidner set up the network in Lyon in conjunction with the Dutch consulate and Office for Dutch Assistance there. So Weidner chose his hotel and his shop near the places he needed to be: the consulate, his friend’s house where he often had dinner, the train station. It was just a happy coincidence that his secretary who became an important courier for the line already lived in that same neighborhood. It was all efficiently arranged for clandestine activity.

But Weidner did not set up the Paris operations in the same way that he did in Lyon. In the capital, he had his own contacts from before the war centered on his sister and then expanded outward through the Dutch community based on opportunities and needs. People had found a place to live based on what was available or what they needed before the war rather than on what was convenient during the war.

Of course, the fact that it’s easier to hide strangers in a big city like Paris might have counterbalanced the difficulty in getting around there. In any case, in terms of movement alone, the daily experience of Resistance was clearly different in Paris than in Lyon.