Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nostalgia Wednesday: Midnight in Paris

My Paris trip was pretty short - a mere three days, two of which were used for travel. I don't speak a lick of French and I really was only in France for the Cannes Film Festival. Paris has never held my interest anyway, so when I arrived at my hotel in Marne Le Valle - about twenty minutes outside of Paris - I wasn't too tempted to head into the city. I'd been on a four hour train journey and had gotten lost for about three hours. I just wanted to sleep. A talk with my sister convinced me to go and see the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dam, as all the other days on my itinerary were booked.

First of all I would like to say: I do not like the ticket system with the RER. I bought a single day ticket and whenever I put it through the machine, it wouldn't read. It said my ticket was outdated even though I literally bought it moments before. The ticket seller told me I couldn't keep the ticket next to anything magnetized: my debit card, money, camera, hotel card, my oyster card, or watches. It got so out of hand I ended up attaching it to a tight bracelet. 

I left the hotel around 9PM, and the last train back was at 11PM. I don't even remember what was around Notre Dame. I just climbed the stairs from the train and I headed straight toward it. I spent probably a solid five minutes standing in awe of it. There was a group of French teenagers hanging out nearby. One was playing a guitar and another was singing. It was hard to leave.

I jumped back on the RER to get to the Eiffel Tower. In the classic pictures theres a large park in front of the monument. It was dark and I was tired so instead of walking through the park I walked around it. Whatever. I didn't know the tower lights up at night, so I was busy taking pictures when all of a sudden it went alight. For someone who didn't care much for Paris, this really made it magical.

With thirty minutes left to spare, I headed back to the train. It was quite crowded with everyone going back home. People exited stop after stop until we finally came to mine. Four of us got off and the train sped away. I looked down at my wrist for my ticket. It was gone. Somewhere between entering the station by the Eiffel Tower and exiting the train moments ago, it had fallen out. Two of my stop mates had already sped up the stairs and out of the station. The only other person in the entire building was a large German man. He was having the same ticket problems I had had earlier, although at that time there was someone on the other side to help me. He looked at me, confused. I shrug and asked - in French - if he spoke English. He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders to show he didn't even understand the question. I showed him my lack of a ticket and pointed to the train in an attempt to convey my recent loss. He tried all the machines to no avail. We started searching the premises for an extra ticket. After maybe ten minutes a girl appeared and handed a ticket over the turnstiles. The man and myself made eye contact and he motioned for me to follow him through the handicap exit. We rushed through and into the freedom of the outdoors. He and the girl went into a pub and I headed into the night.


  1. My heart would be pounding so ferociously in that instance (with the german guy) and it would make me want to never revisit that type of situation again OR try to purposefully find them. You seem like you're more the latter now.

  2. This was SO good! Not necessarily that this happened to you, but the way you wrote about it. There was sheer terror for a few minutes and then.... you just casually walked out into the night.