Our first stop was Paris. We were asked to leave behind the image of Paris being the city of romance and were cautioned against the prevalent thefts and robbery. Enveloped in fear, we embarked on our journey from the airport to our Airbnb apartment on the Haussmann Road, quite central to Paris. The first train was to take us from the airport to the right terminal; the second was the RER B, the one which connects the suburbs to the main city; and the third one was the intercity metro. We got down at Chaussée d'Antin – La Fayette. Paris manifested in its full grandeur the moment we came out of the metro station – the iconic architecture, Parisian balconies, boulevards flanked by glamour laden retail, fabulously dressed men and women – men in hats, women in winter coats, as if they have just stepped out of Vogue and such diligently crafted food, looking warmly at you from behind the windows panes, making you feel weak at your knees. There were French men and women, some tourists, some travelers and some cosmopolites, swarming the streets.
The residents appeared fit and fast paced. A lot of them smoked cigarettes. The streets were littered with cigarette butts. After having parked our luggage in our cozy apartment, we stepped out, breathed in some Paris, walked along the fortified walls of the river Siene. It was evening. Wherever the gaze turned, there was a landscape painted in fall colours. The pathways stretched as far as the eyes could see. The trees that lined all the pathways were pruned in a very peculiar squarish fashion. Painfully enduring the cold waves (7-8 degree Celsius), we were looking at Parisians with wonder, who were running and exercising in shorts and single jersey T-shirts. Enjoying our flânerie, we evaluated a bit of French retail and grabbed a butter croissant from Paul, a boulangerie and patisserie found all over Paris. It is absolutely fine if one doesn’t speak or understand French but it is so much more fun if you do. We had our first meal, an aubergine and zucchini pizza in a very French style café, Tivoli; right in front of an Indian restaurant, Gandhi Ji’s, supposedly run by people from Pakistan. Most of the Parisian cafes had a strange seating arrangement on the outside. There were little chairs closely paired facing the street, sitting on which both the persons could romantically look over the street, even if the street was busy or narrow or as less as 4 feet away from them. The chairs were strewn with throws and wraps. Nonetheless, the thought of enjoying some heat made us secure a warm corner inside.