Strip Shows in the Métro

22 Sep, 2011

After landing at Charles De Gaulle, France’s biggest airport, I paid 10 Euros for a bus which took me directly to the heart of Paris within 20 minutes. One of my first discoveries was that the city’s public transport is very well-developed. The underground metro system, even though often very crowded and unbearably hot in the summer months, is very efficient with 300 metro stops situated most everywhere in the city. I’m told that every building in Paris is situated within 500 meters of a metro stop. A monthly pass for 60 Euros allows me to freely utilize public transportation across the entire city. The price is fair considering the frequent and often-humorous encounters during my commute. In the short period of my stay, I witnessed a strip show on my trip to the Louvre, a French rap battle while riding to Sacre Coeur, and a rather unfortunate performance of the song ‘Les Champs-Elysées’ as the act was not quite homogenous with Joe Dassin’s original version. Nevertheless, in my mind, such young artists attempting to make some money are a colorful enrichment of the otherwise dull commute.

Depending on the day the first and last train go at 5:30am and 2am respectively, which realistically only poses a problem when one goes out. Nevertheless, clubs are mostly open until 5 am and people generally stay out later than in Montreal. The other night I took advantage of Paris’s BIXI equivalent, as my internal clock was still running on Montreal club closing hours and I found myself on the way home at 4 am. I was in the area of the Moulin Rouge, which is a neighbourhood with various bars and clubs in the 17th arrondissement and about a 90-minute walk to my apartment in the 11th. I unlocked a bike for 1 Euro and slowly cycled home. Unexpectedly, the night ride through Paris was a pleasant experience as I felt the mood and flair of various neighbourhoods. If you decide to come to Paris, such an adventure is highly recommended, as long as one stays away from the more dangerous parts of the city.

There are numerous hostels for travelers in Paris, providing accommodation for around 30 Euros per night. Many incoming students chose to stay at such ‘auberges’ creating a fun environment in which it is easy to meet new people. However, the risk of getting robbed in a hostel, where one shares the room with up to 20 people, is higher than in a hotel room. Therefore, students with valuable belongings often prefer to pay extra for a hotel. Unfortunately, the prices are quite high starting at around 75 Euros per night in all nicer parts of Paris. Personally, I chose to sojourn in a hotel located in the 18th arrondissement, as my apartment was not ready when I arrived. This is not one of the nicer places of the city and should be avoided late at night; However, I cannot say that my stopover was entirely unpleasant. The people there, mostly ‘Maghrébins‘, were very friendly, making me feel like one of them –a foreigner among foreigners. I got along just fine with my broken French, since individuals were willing to accept the slower conversation pace, which cannot be said about some other Parisians. The hotel was affordable at 50 Euros per night and the neighbourhood was full of Lebanese and Turkish restaurants and small markets offering very cheap groceries. The best part for a newcomer in the 18th are the small Indy-stores in which one can purchase a new phone with a functioning SIM card for approximately 20 Euros without a long-term subscription. I recommend at least one visit to this neighborhood to appreciate how incredibly diverse the city is. It seems to be true that Paris has a place for everybody.

Coming up
Next week, I will write about my first two days exploring the city, including a first glimpse at the Université Paris Dauphine.

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