A cold and windy Parisian weather greeted us as we stepped out of the airplane. There was no skybridge, in its place was a few buses that will ferry us to the nearest terminal, and from there, immigration.
“Wow, look at the mist coming out from my mouth”, I said. Everyone was struggling to get into their jackets, some pulled out their gloves, “Uh-oh, this doesn’t look too good.” They have come well prepared. Unlike me. The wife whipped out her own pair of gloves, “See? I told you they would come in useful.”
Immigration went by without a hitch, although the queue was slightly longer for those with EU passports. I still remember the interesting centrally located tangle of escalators, each covered in their own ‘tube-like’ structure, of the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, mind you, the last time I visited Paris was almost 10 years ago.
Interesting as it is, a few passengers were trying to book their accommodation in Paris upon arrival. In a connected world, with smartphones and internet booking, it seems that there are a few who still feel comfortable making on-the-spot bookings. I bought the 4-day Paris Museum Pass (€54) at the tourist desk located on the Arrivals Hall.
Since our pre-booked apartment (via AirBnB) was located near to a RER station, we took the train into Paris. It takes a fair bit of waiting for the lifts to bring us down to the CDG Shuttle, which will transport us to Terminal 3, where a RER B train will bring us into Paris. The ticket cost €9.25 per person one-way.
The train was a tight fit, inadvertently, with both of us and our luggages, we took up the legroom for 4. Other passengers did the same, which brought some unwanted stares from the locals when the train started to reach the outer Parisian suburbs. Took 40 minutes or so to arrive at our stop, Châtelet – Les Halles, one of the largest underground stations in the world.
*A word of advice, try to push your luggage through the automated gates fast. Any delay will result in your luggage being jammed in between the gates. In which you would have to plead for some kind soul to stick their ticket through the same exit, releasing the automated doors, and of course, your luggage.
Finding the apartment was a bit of a challenge, as we did not come prepared with a proper Paris map. The weather was around 7°C but it was the wind that chills you to the bone. Paris is quite far away from the coastline as compared to my hometown, which is around 30km away from the sea, and yet the winds are stronger in Paris. Maybe some meteorologist would care to comment.
“Look, there is the road to our apartment, Rue Tiquetonne.”, as we were hauling our luggage through the near empty streets. It was 830am on a Saturday morning. “Number 5, here we are.” I couldn’t believe myself, number 5 is just a door. In between 2 shop fronts, number 3 and 7 respectively. Keying in the password, the door opened, showing a narrow corridor, just enough for one to squeeze through. 20 metres in, another door blocked our way.
“Go on, press the buzzer. She’s expecting us.”
A minute later, we were allowed into the apartment area. Danielle, our hostess was on hand to welcome us, “Bonjour! Was it easy to find the place?” Feigning simplicity, I replied, “Yes. No problem. The directions were clear.” Climbing 2 flights of narrow stairs, we were led to our apartment — the size of my living room plus kitchen back home.
The studio apartment comes equipped with a functioning kitchen, microwave oven, refrigerator, washing machine and dryer. Not to mention a shower plus WC facilities. Cosy enough for a short visit.
(to be continued)