A night in Paris…
Avoiding Stupidity Top Tip #1: Leave more time to catch the last train home
I have previously discussed how much I hated my time in Zurich. There is a part 2 to that tale, which deals with how much I hate Paris train stations. Ok, that’s harsh, I don’t really. I actually found the Paris train stations very beautiful, if highly inconvenient. I had already learned that the stations did not necessarily connect to each other and sometimes you have to walk across a bridge trailing your suitcases in 95 degree weather to reach the one you need. Fun. A night in Paris is even worse.
Everything closes. Everything.
If I hadn’t realized that all of Europe shuts down by 10PM from the Zurich trip, this fact was cemented by the time I got out of the mess in Paris. Our train back from the Paris airport was one of the last to go out and arrive. It was also late, which meant we missed the last train to Orleans which we had originally planned on taking. It meant we were stuck at midnight in Paris. Ah, a night in Paris! Sounds romantic, almost.
Fine, we said, we’ll just camp out here in the gare until 6AM when the first train leaves. We bedded down on annoyingly curved benches, huddled under our scarves like deja vu. I believe is was the Gare d’Austerlitz.
Turns out, much like airports, train stations also close at night. Why? I’ve never found trains to make that much noise, and even if they do it’s not bad, generally. Why. The guard came by to kick us out at midnight. I argued with the man, too tired to be nervous about my French ability (wine and sleep deprivation, great ways to learn languages). He shrugged and closed the giant teal doors on us, locking us outside.
We discovered the Gare de Lyon was open until 1:30AM and quickly made our way across the bridge. The Gare de Lyon is really very beautiful and we were too tired to admire it by the time we were kicked out. The next idea on my part was to find a bar. Surely bars would be open. Spoiler: Apparently not. The only thing that appeared to be open was a nightclub but apparently young Parisians were “too cool” to dance and the entire building looked awkward and crowded.
After Midnight, Paris Gets Weird
By the way, the whole “pay for your bathroom” thing? Doesn’t seem to be working out. Paris sticks of urine and I saw more than one person relieving themselves. Take it from me, avoid all puddles in Paris.
We wound up on the area on the Seine outside the nightclub where a bunch of Parisians were throwing they’re own free party outside. Blaring music from portable speakers, smashing wine bottles….the entire ground littered with tiny shards of glass. Sneakers for the win, folks.
We must have been approached 20 different times by different guys either looking to give us marijuana or wanting to chat. We got really good at the phrase, “Je ne parle pas francais” in the worst accent we could muster. It normally got them to go away. Also, Paris gets shockingly chilly at night, scarves are a godsend. The stupidity of drunken men was impressed upon me when one particularly drunken man made a rush for the Seine 10 feet below and jumped in, all to the roaring cheers of his fellow compatriots. He didn’t really have a way back up and had to climb a boat tied nearby to get back onto dry land. This apparently impressive feat made the man king for the night and he proceeded to do it again, as the slightly less stupid people remained on dry land, cheering him on.
In the End
By the time the sun rose an unbroken bottle would have been a valuable commodity in the weird community that had developed by the Seine. We crunched our way back to the Gare d’Austerlitz and boarded our train back to Orleans. Insomnia arriving at the worst times, I found myself incapable of falling asleep and the evil train conductor decided that that day was the day to be really strict about people’s feet being on seats. Parisians seem to have a special knack for kicking you when you’re down, but maybe that was just my less than charitable viewpoint after the second sleepless night in five days. A night in Paris? A failure.
- Could have been worse
- Saw Paris Like a Local?
- I wasn't alone
- Lost a lot of sleep
- Many drunk Parisian men
- Paris is surprisingly cold at night