Paris: Day 1

Earlier today, at 11.48 to be exact, I arrived by train to Paris Montparnasse station. After a very early start (up at 6 am to set off for 7), I took a train from Montauban-de-Bretagne station (a small platform with a little building for tickets) to Rennes.Once I got to Rennes, it became clear that the station was having a makeover, as many of the exterior walls were blocked off, and alternative directions shown. Because somewhere in the process of buying my Carte Jeune, I had chosen ‘Borne Libre Service’ (self service), I had to find a ticket terminal to print it off. Unfortunately, Montauban-de-Bretagne was too small to house one of these, but luckily my ticket wasn’t checked en-route, so I was safe to collect it at Rennes. Every ten minutes or so, I kept hearing the famous SNCF announcement jingle, which I had only ever heard in films, and assumed it had been updated. If you’re that interested, go here to hear it in all it’s glory, or if you want a remix (yes, I did actually find one), then head here to find a strangely catchy tune.

After a quick photoshoot in a Photomaton booth, I headed down to Voie 4 to board the train. This was a strange experience for me, as I had never been on a double-decker train before. A carpeted set of stairs in a moving vehicle was quite unexpected. Luckily for me, I had been booked a seat by itself. That is to say, there were no other seats directly next to it. However, I had been put in a seat just behind the window, not that there was much to see; fields, windmills, hay-bales, more fields. Even coming into the Paris area, I didn’t see much, due to us being underground.

Much to my frustration, I had run out of credit on my phone, so was unable to use 4G to find my Airbnb address. The station WiFi was ridiculously slow, so I headed off to find the one place I knew for sure had WiFi: good old McDonalds. I was starving anyway, so I thought, why not kill two birds with one stone, and get a bite to eat while I get directions? I already knew I needed to take the Métro (short for  La Compagnie du chemin de fer métropolitain de Paris – The Paris Metropolitan Railway Service) to the area I needed to be in. As it so happens, there is a station named the same as the street I needed.

The Métro was relatively easy to use; it’s just like the London Underground, except it’s in French. You just need to buy a ticket for however many journeys you need, find the station you have to get off at, pick the line you’re taking to get to it, then get off the train at your stop. For example, I needed to get from Montparnasse-Bienvenue to Lamarck-Caulaincourt. I bought a one-journey ticket from a self-service machine, then took the Line 12 (dark green) train for 15 stops and got off at Lamarck-Caulaincourt.

Once I came out of the station (after climbing a total of 112 steps), I got my first proper view of a Parisian street. Beautiful buildings with cafes and shops at the bottom, with many floors of appartements above. My room would be in one of these buildings. I had seen before on television how small Parisian flats can be, but never really understood the scale. That is, until I had to climb the stairs to one. After finding the right number building, and punching in two separate door codes, I was in the main communal hallway. If you can call it that. There’s a small lift, barely wide enough for one person, a singe spiral staircase, and a door leading off to the shop next door.

I decided to not be lazy, so I took the stairs to the third floor and found the door I needed. After ringing the bell, I was greeted by the host’s boyfriend and a little girl I presume is her daughter. I was given a tour of my room, the kitchenette, and the shower and toilet. While it is a small flat, it’s still nonetheless a lovely place to stay. My room has a very comfortable double bed, with a lovely nightstand. There’s a full-height mirror, a sofa, a chair to put my stuff on, and a shelving unit with drawers underneath. While I don’t exactly have a sunset view of the city, it’s not the end of the world to see the back of the building behind us. When I say the kitchen is absolutely tiny, I’m not exaggerating, I promise. There isn’t room for a full-sized cooker, instead there’s a 2-wide plug-in hob, with a mini oven on top of the fridge. There’s just enough room to fit in a 2-seat dining table and a shelf for the vegetables. I know it’s not exactly a luxury kitchen, but the way everything goes in just works and adds to the aesthetic. If a family of three can make it work, then so could I. The main hallway is beautiful as well. There’s a dark-wood side table covered in knick-knacks and books, with a long mirror and a bright painting. I’d definitely take a lovely home like this over a Holiday Inn room any day.

I’ll leave this post here for now. Bedtime, I think. I have a long day tomorrow with a lot of things to see. Thank you again if you’ve read this far, and à bientôt !