Paris! A Flaw-less destination ?

Paris has long been one of the most visited cities in the world. From its incredible architecture to its world-renowned fashion and esteemed cuisine, yet most of the tourists have this Paris Syndrome, Have you ever heard of it?

Let me tell you, it is a term created to describe the shock or unhappiness tourists feel when visiting Paris, especially when their fairy-tale expectations don’t match the reality they experience once they visit the city.

The view from Sacré cœur

For starters, I would like to mention that Paris does have its charm. That is for certain. But is “The city of love” perfect? perhaps not.

Let’s first discuss its flaws.

1. Safety issues!

Yes, no metropolitan city is completely safe especially when it comes to its tourists. Tourists are the most vulnerable prey thus they often stuck in unpleasant and troubling situations. Likewise, some areas of Paris are not really safe either for example, the 18th arrondissement and the Bercy bus station.
The 18th arrondissement is a district where all the Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans live. It is also called le quartier Indien ou Pakistanais, (The Indian or Pakistani District).

I had an encounter with a thieve in 18th arrondissement as well, he seemed a stoner or some kind of serious drunkard who tried to steal my belongings from my rucksack. The moment they get the idea that you’re a tourist, you’re a target for them. Luckily, he could just take a T-shirt and a cap from my bag, the next thing was my DSLR but before he could reach that, my friend saw him. Lucky me!

Bus stations, Railway stations and Airports are the places in any city where thievery takes place the most. I encountered only one unpleasant situation and was even lucky with it but there were also people who were not. I saw a guy running around the CDG airport asking everyone if they have seen someone take his luggage. He seemed extremely troubled and his voice was shaking. It was the day I arrived at CDG Paris for the first time. Similar incident happened to a lady at Bercy Bus station when I was there to take my bus to Geneva. Her whole luggage was stolen while she was talking to the fellow passengers and waiting for the boarding to start.

Therefore an advice from my Parisian friend Bruno, be very careful with your luggage all the time.

2. Tourists everywhere!

Paris has a lot of tourists throughout the year, so it is quite crowded. Moreover, if you’re looking to make friends or perhaps to talk to Parisians, most probably, at first, you won’t know if you’re going to interact with a French person or a foreigner until you ask them. This is also why Paris isn’t a perfect place for a language student who is interested in knowing the French culture and wants to practice French.

3. Parisians dash all the time.

Parisians are always in a hurry as compared to other cities in France, so you may hear the word PARDON often. (My personal experience when I first visited Paris after being two months in Rennes). It gives us a sense of their hectic and stressful life. Just don’t fall in the same pit.

4. Eiffel Tower! Day or Night?

In my opinion, Eiffel Tower doesn’t really give that sensational feeling as it has been portrayed by tourism though it is mesmerizing once the lights are on and then you can take a pretty romantic selfie, better than the one in daylight, or You should visit it on a special day like New Year’s eve or National day of France.

5. Metro life!

Since I am a Delhiite, I didn’t find it as a problem, but Metros in Paris can be congested if you’re not used to it and not all the metros have AC, only a few new metros. The metro is very well connected and you have access to almost every corner of Paris, however, it does make it a little hard to read the map and interchange for other lines. Be ready to walk a nice distance when you change for lines.

I was trying to capture the crowd In the metro, but was also afraid that somebody may get offended and I ended up taking this picture.

However, THE CITY OF ROMANCE is a must to be in your bucket list. Let us tell you why!

1. FASHION

You are thinking about the fashion capital of the world and indeed, it won’t upset you. There are several places in Paris that are quite famous for shopping.

Avenue des Champs Elysées

Let’s say you have a busy itinerary and you will not be able to take out some extra time to visit shopping destinations in Paris but I assume that you must have added Arc de Triomphe in your Itinerary. You’re lucky my friend because this avenue has a splendid view of the Arc de Triomphe & It has a wide variety of shops like Gap, Sephora, Bvlgari, Adidas, ZARA, FNAC and also the Famous Louis Vuitton where celebs like Ariana Grande, Bruce willis and Selena Gomez also came to shop.

The famous Louis Vuitton at the Avenue des Champs Elysées

La Vallée Village (The Shopping Village)

This shopping spot is about 30kms from Paris (though easily accessible via RER A) and it is my favourite even though I cannot really afford to buy anything here. La vallée village is home to prestigious brands like GUCCI, HUGO BOSS, JIMMY CHOO, BURBERRY, TED BAKER, POLO RALPH LAUREN etc. It is easy to get there by RER A & it will take you around an hour. Before we enter La vallée village, we go through a big mall (Val d’EUROPE) with brands like ZARA, H&M, Bershka, Pimkie etc but once you traverse the mall and enter “La vie en Rose” (The Shopping Village), it’s charming, it seems like you’re in a beautiful village of Switzerland. Please expect a waiting queue for Brands like GUCCI, Versace, Prada etc.

Entry of ‘La Vallée Village’
La vallée village
La Vallée Village

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann

Paris is the city where Coco Chanel invented the iconic Little Black Dress, the city where fashion made some remarkable moments since the time of Kings and Queens. Galeries Lafayette is one of the most popular shopping centers in Paris (you can also find it in almost every other city of France). You get many luxury brands for Jewels, Accessories like Hand Bags, Shades, Watches, Perfumes under the famous glass Coupole of Lafayette, rising up to a height of 43 meters. This shopping center seems like a palace, here’s a picture below.

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann and the famous glass Coupole

For travellers and bargain shoppers, you should know that France has two sales periods:
Summer sales begin Wednesday, June 25th and end Tuesday, July 29th.
Winter sales start around 8 January each year.

2. Cuisine en France

The French have always been proud of their sophisticated food and globally, French food is known for its finesse and flavour but my vegetarian friends may not get excited as the 75% of it, is non-vegetarian. Don’t worry, you’ll find your favourite.

The Baguette

The baguette is a long and thin loaf of crusty bread and it is the most important part of any French meal. Everyone at the table is expected to have at least one piece. It can be eaten in different ways, including to prepare sandwiches. A single loaf of Baguette costs around 0.75 cents to 1 euro.

La Baguette

Crêpe Bretonne

Let’s start with the national dish of France i.e. Crêpe. It was invented in the thirteenth century in Brittany (Bretagne in French) and it is similar to pancake in shape. You can find many crêperies all around in Paris, A creperie can be a take-out restaurant, a stall or a caf­­­­­­­­­­é. It is sumptuous and not at all expensive hence it is a must while in France and that would be a cherry on the top if you can have it while you’re in Britanny.

The first crêpe I tried in France.
Crêpe with Banana and Chocolat.

Madeleine

Are you Peckish? Madeleine can help you to avert it a little in your busy schedule as I do it when I am at the university or when I backpack, I eat some Madeleine to hold up for quite some time. It is really great for munching and small appetites. Madeleine is popular since Louis XV when he first tasted them at the Chateau de Commercy in Lorraine in 1755. Moreover do you know Marcel Proust’s Madeleine moment in the second longest novel ever written “A la recherche du temps perdu/In Search of Lost Time? The beautiful description Proust has given is unattainable.

Madeleine, small sponge cakes with a distinctive shell-like shape acquired from being baked in pans with shell-shaped depressions.

Kebab

You all know it already right? I survived my first two months at Alibaba Kebab in Rennes as I don’t know cooking well technically as I did not know cooking. Kebab is not French but it is still in the list because you will find it quite easily not only in Paris but in other European countries as well and in fact the size, shape and so the taste differs from place to place. I tasted Kebabs in Paris, Rennes, Luxembourg city, and Kehl (Germany) and I prefer the one in Rennes. Vegans, you can always find a Subway (The restaurant, not the metro) in the city to find something similar to Kebab, just as we have Veg Biryani and Non Veg Biryani, we have Kebabs and Veg Sandwich/Subway. I let you decide if there’s even a comparison.

Kebab at Alibaba Kebab, Rennes.
Kebab in Luxembourg

Couscous

Did you know that “JALEBI” is not an Indian dessert but was brought here by Persian traders around 1000years ago and so we now consider it ours, The origin of Couscous is North Africa but it is the third favoured dish in France, and the most popular one in Eastern France. I used to eat it often in my university’s cafeteria and It is one of my favourite dish or let’s say French dish. Yayyyy Its veg!!!

Btw where is south of France ? Are they busy making the best wines out there? JK!

Couscous

Let’s include a drink too just in case! Hot Chocolate, They are easy to locate at every touristic place in Paris. I would suggest you to have it in the evening at Trocadéro, when the sun is getting real low and it starts to get a bit cold, I had it and I still remember that wonderful feeling.

Museums

Paris is a city that thrives on its history and if you fancy a dose of culture, you’re at the right place. There are around 130 museums in Paris. The French Revolution, Wars, fashion, musical evolution, Refugees are few examples of the themes subsumed in the many indispensable history museums in Paris. The best place to start is with the oldest museum “ La Louvre”. A museum, furnished with 35000 artistic treasures including the famous portrait “The Mona Lisa” also known as “La Jaconde”. The other famous museums are Museé d’Orsay, The Centre Pompidou, Museé des Arts et Métiers etc.

A word of wisdom

Louvre can take months if you want to see every object in it and one of my friend was ready with her heart and soul to see all the articles at “La Louvre” before commencing her trip however just after her visit to the Museé de beaux arts, she discovered that It was as exciting for her as watching paint dry hence my advise is to think twice before you start bouncing off the walls about museums.

The Louvre Museum

Paris, The city of Architects

The great French metropolis is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, thanks to the impressive cohesion of its architecture.

Paris accumulates a large number of buildings and emblematic buildings of all eras: the Gothic style of Notre Dame de Paris, the neoclassical of the Church of the Madeleine, the Eiffel Tower, among others. But that’s not all, in Paris there are also the works of modern architects like the Louvre Pyramid by IM Pei.

The best way to cherish the quintessential architecture is to stroll through the city of lights.

The building of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, started in 2006, is an art museum and cultural center sponsored by the group LVMH.
Front view of Louis Vuitton foundation
L’Arc de Triomphe
No, No! It’s not same as India gate except its purpose.
Otherwise it is rich in architecture, a lot bigger than India Gate. Moreover, you can also mount to the top to have a wonderful view of the city.

So do you think you should visit this “impeccable” French city?

One of the most culturally rich and a beautiful city, Paris is testimony to the Egyptian proverb that a beautiful thing is never perfect and personally, I found Paris perfect in its imperfections. Moreover, I got a great friend like Bruno in Paris.

A picture of Bruno. We have our birthday on the same day i.e 17 June so we celebrated it together.

Is Hitchhiking in Europe Safe??

Did I tell you about the time when I was backpacking across Western Europe and I was in Brussels, Hitchhiking all the way to Luxembourg.

Why would someone Hitchhike when one can just buy a 10 Euro flixbus from Belgium to Luxembourg?

We are all living our own adventures and this is what life is all about, Adventures and Taking Risks. Hitching is one of those adventures that folks believe, is not attainable but in fact it is, however reserved for audacious people and we are so used to our 9-5 schedule that we are afraid of living Out Of The Box, everyone is looking for stability, even when they are unhappy. People are ready go through the bearable suffering for years but would never want to chase their own dream because they’re afraid.

You are going to regret it one day.

After twenty years, will you be happy with the things you did and the adventures you didn’t take instead?

A simple question. Isn’t it?

My first hitching journey commenced in Belgium and the destination was Luxembourg (220Kms).

The Paper placard that I used to Hitchhike.

It took me three rides to reach Luxembourg from Brussels and I learned three Important lessons that applies to everyone’s life. Lets get to know the lessons, ITS WORTHWHILE.

Also, yes it is safe to hitchhike in daylight in Western Europe for everyone, being it a guy or a girl. I haven’t experienced other parts of Europe yet but let’s discover this journey for now.

FIRST RIDE

When I was standing with my first paper banner written “Namur”, It took me around 30 minutes to get the first ride for 60 kms. As it was my first Hitching experience, I was losing hope, people could see me on the road but nobody stopped for a while.

Paec, a young Belgian guy stopped abruptly when he saw me and so my trip began. He was a very soft spoken person who loved to make contacts and meet people from all over the world. He narrated his travel experiences in Europe and I told him about my journey and where I intend to go.

I arrived in Namur from Brussels in 30 minutes and he left me at a decent spot to hitchhike further.
Here’s a picture with Paec.

Arrived at Namur with Paec. I can not suck more in pictures.

The first lesson I learnt was that when you’re on the road to achieve something, it is not going to be easy. You’re going to face many obstacles and failures but the only way to achieve your goal is by not giving up on it so in a nutshell, don’t be afraid to EMBRACE REJECTIONS.

There are so many famous rejection stories out there but my favourite one is the story of JK Rowling and how she was rejected by a bunch of publishers for Harry Potter. You may know it already, now read my tiny story and though I have seen many other rejections but let’s stick to the travelling now.

Life isn’t easy and so wasn’t the time while I was standing with a banner on my hand for the first time, moreover, pedestrians passing by and looking at me while I was smiling only if I made an eye contact with them. Did I even have a choice to do something other than that?

Luckily it was the best thing that I didn’t have any choice but to do what I planned. I have seen people who have the courage to chase their dream but at the same time, they’re afraid of not being able to realise it so they keep an alternative as well and they always end up taking the alternative. In my case, I didn’t keep any such as a bus ticket so I had to do it or else, well, I don’t know what would have been the option since I had no place to go except buying a super expensive ticket.

I waited thirty mins to get my first ride and some people replied with face and hand gestures.

Oh sorry I am going that way

there’s a car behind

Oops can’t help you sorry

but eventually after having been through all rejections, I was able to begin my journey so always remember that there will be someone who will always stop for you, to help you begin your journey. Hold on a little longer and tighter.

“Rejections are the part of the wonderful journey you are embarked upon”

– Anonymous supertramp

SECOND RIDE

I left early in the morning from my host’s place to set off on this journey so I couldn’t eat anything. I sat on the nearby grass for sometime and ate some Madeleines and walnuts that I packed while leaving for this trip. madeleines are soft bread with/without choco chips. I had the simple one without choco chips.

Alas! the destination was still quite long and I could just complete one fourth of it so far. I was standing in front of a car’s showroom in Namur nearby a roundabout and the autoroute in the right went directly to Luxembourg. Again it took around 20-25 minutes to get a ride. Paec finished his work and I saw him going back. I was standing right there where he suggested me to be so I’ll get a ride easily.

Finally someone, I got someone. It was Babou, who stopped a bit far so I didn’t notice if someone stopped and continued to look for rides and then I heard someone yelling to get my attention. I ran towards her and I asked.

Are you going to Luxembourg?”

No” she replied

But I am going to somewhere in between and I can drop you there. You will easily find your next ride to Luxembourg from there” she added.

How far is the place where you’ll drop me” I enquired

Around 40-50kms from here” she replied

I have been waiting for around thirty mins so I looked on the possibility of getting this ride and then the next one to arrive Luxembourg.

Babou was a wonderful girl with humour and a helpful person with a zeal to travel and she told me her travel plans for Thailand. I was also watching the beautiful scenery at the both sides of the road. I don’t know why but I feel attracted to the beauty of wind mills, Yes I find them beautiful and I know it’s just a machine. It is right? Well I don’t know if it is just me who like it or if other people likes it too. I never talked about it to anyone. Meanwhile, Babou and I kept talking about my travelling itineraries, India, the difference between Indian and European culture and a lot more.

Once you’re out there looking for help, you find so many nice people and so Babou was one. She went some extra miles to leave me at the best spot possible for further rides. She left me at a gas station, 5-6kms far than where she had to go.


So what exactly is the second lesson ?
When you are headed on the road to success, there’s no turning back because you will have to walk anyways. For instance once I reached Namur, I couldn’t go back to Brussels because even for that, I had to take a ride and wait which is pointless. Sometimes in life you may feel that taking a step back is better than bearing the suffering and failures but remember success doesn’t happen overnight and it is not easily attainable but it’s definitely worth waiting and if you want to accomplish something, you have to hold your horses. Hence, the second lesson is HAVE PATIENCE!

In the darkest night when you feel there’s no hope left, then comes the brightest morning.”

– Anonymous Supertramp

Here’s a picture with Babou.

THIRD RIDE

I ate some more Madeleines and walnuts at the gas station where Babou dropped me and after a few minutes break, I returned to the road.

The third ride was the easiest one to get. It took me zero mins to get it. I commenced walking towards the road to find a spot to stand and there was a truck coming out of a factory, first I showed him my paper banner written Luxembourg on it and “he shook his head in disagreement” but so far I already learnt the lesson of rejection so I was cool.

I was still walking out of the side road of the gas station to be near the autoroute (highway) and I saw someone going slow in his car and while he sort of tried to figure me out, I ran a little and showed him my super banner. He stopped.

Do you speak French or german?” His first question

Yes I speak French and English” I replied.

You won’t rob me or kill me right?” His following question

The guy who stopped was from North Africa so I just showed him my arm and I said

Do you think I can?”

We both laughed and he asked me to “hop in.”

I loved this situation and it also reminds me of an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S where phoebe says to Joey about the Hitchhiker he picked “he can be a rapist or murderer” – Phoebe. On which joey replies “Don’t you think I asked him that”.

It was my final ride and that is how I arrived to the city of Luxembourg. Meanwhile this last journey, we talked almost about the same topics and some more of course as it was the longest distance in all three rides. He told me how he used to pick hitchhikers before but then he stopped doing it and it was after years that he picked a Hitchhiker.


Oh wait the third lesson. So the third lesson is VICTORY.

Who like failures? Well that doesn’t matter, we like it or not, it is a part of life and you will have to deal with defeats and failures in life. The road to success is not easy and the only way to be successful in life is by never giving up on your dream.

To sum up,

Embrace Rejections and improve yourself.

Have Patience in your tough time. The magic will happen only if you believe in it.

There you go, Winner! We are ready to listen to your beautiful speech.

Do not confuse success with money, it is never about the things you own but instead the hearts you won.

– Anonymous Supertramp

I forgot to click a picture with the third friend so here’s a picture from his FB profile. I guess I was all excited to see the city of Luxembourg.

See you soon in my next blog about Paris. Here is the link below.

Paris, A Flaw-Less destination?

Here’s my Trophy! The city of Luxembourg.
%d bloggers like this: