The unthinkable is happening: I am spending a few days in France, on my own, without any children. It feels weird, and also strangely relaxing to have nobody to cater to. It hasn’t happened for years. I am slowly starting to feel like my old French self, but I must admit that it isn’t as easy as I anticipated. I don’t know if it is me or my home country, but something has definitively changed.
First of all, I had to take the Eurostar, and then I had to catch a flight from Orly, one of Paris’ airports. I tried to buy my train ticket to the airport from the Eurostar lounge in London, but it wasn’t possible because:
A. I couldn’t buy tube tickets by the unit there. I would have had to buy 10 in one go (and I didn’t need 10 tickets as I was on my own)
B. They were only selling train tickets for zone 1 in Paris anyway (or any Tube destination). The airport is obviously not in the city centre.
Suffice to say, no explanation was given as to how I could reach Orly, apart from the fact that I ended up being told that it would probably be easier to do it from Paris.
Thanks, guys. Very helpful.
Undeterred, I decided to book myself a cab. I called the cab company in France, only to be told that I needed an account to get picked up from the train station. As I go to Paris once in a blue moon, I didn’t want to set up an account.
Welcome to France!
Once at Gare du Nord, I managed to buy a ticket to Antony, but not to Orly. This was because a different company was selling the ticket from Antony to Orly (did you follow?) and not all machines were selling it (mine certainly wasn’t).
Seriously, why was life so complicated?
Everything was soon forgotten when I boarded my train. I was on the RER B, my good old friend. I used to take this very line all the time as a student. I felt 20 again.
The stations hadn’t changed one bit, and the train was bang on time for a fraction of the price I would have paid for a similar journey in London. I was happy. I started leaning on the glass window. I started smiling. Life was good.
I quickly noticed that people were looking at me as if I was, well, a bit mad. It suddenly came back to me: I had broken one of Paris’ cardinal rules : you are not supposed to smile (or be happy) on the Tube, let alone the RER. Silly British me.
I hoped that the smile police wouldn’t arrest me. I was about to burst off laughing, they would have had to send me to jail. I managed to pull myself together and look miserable.
Once at Antony, I had to queue again to get the right ticket. I eventually reached Orly, and it had taken me only 30 minutes from the train station. France’s transport network was simply amazing. In Orly, I was pleasantly surprised by the choice of shops and the quality of the food. Why did I leave France again?
I started looking around, and noticed that everybody looked grumpy. What was going on? How could they not see what they had?
I didn’t understand. We eventually landed in Toulon. The lady next to me started complaining because she felt it was too cold.
I couldn’t care less: to me, this didn’t feel cold. And the air had this zingy taste of the Mediterranean.
How could they not see it? I wondered…
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London