first impressions – Paris

My flight to Paris was scheduled hours after my L2 FRM exam. This did not help matters even a teensy bit considering that these exams are always in some godforsaken, inaccessible corner of the city! I rushed through heavy traffic at K R Puram and just prayed that I would have enough time to do some last minute packing and reach the airport in time.

The flight itself was quite uneventful. I had a super boring co-passenger who cribbed about how he now had to travel economy because of budget cuts in his company. I yawned and zoned him out. I have this awesome ability to fall asleep before take-off and wake up after we hit the tarmac. And I did just that.

Our welcome in Paris more than made up for the lack of drama enroute! We landed early (too early for most Parisians to open an eyelid and acknowledge the weekend) on Sunday morning. By the time Rakesh and I were done with immigration, we had already lost a considerable amount of time. The driver was expected to wait for 45 minutes and we still had to locate the correct carousel. By the time we made it out, he was gone! A few phone calls (that went unanswered) and plenty of debate later, we decided to hire a cab ourselves. Slight glitch there – neither of us spoke any French!

We stepped out of the airport and in the freezing cold. While I toyed with my breath on the wind, Rakesh convinced a cabbie to take us to Residhome. What followed was a long game of dumb charades! The ride was beautiful but neither of us were sure if the driver had understood where to take us! After a particularly tiring night, we were already dreaming of our warm beds.

Residhome Aparthotel is a single building in Courbevoie along the circumference of Parc du Millenaire. It is a few hundred meters from Fauborg de l’Arche tram (T2) station and about a km walk away from the La Défense metro station on Line 1. Nabil – the concierge decided to annoy Rakesh and flirt with me – the latter we continued long after that morning.

Our tiny apartments came with super tiny kitchens that needed to be stocked. After we’d eaten some of  our pre-packed food, we decided to step out and buy some regular fresh food. Turns out we did require a fair bit of French to know what we were buying. For starters we couldn’t understand why there were so many different types of milk! They had different colored labels and yet everything was called lait. Cheese was a whole different ball game altogether!

In hindsight, I can say that it gets easier. Within a week you’ll know that poulet is chicken and that buerre is butter (there’s salted and unsalted of course). You’ll realise that those tiny round slices of bread are used for foie gras (the French love duck)! Also, the rice you find in Mono Prix (in sky blue packets) is super soft and great for risotto.

Up Next: Local transport in the city – what is RATP and how do you get the best out of it?

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