Au Pairs and RERs
When I arrived in Paris I was very impressed with the train and metro system here, not only because it could bring you to most places in Paris but also because it saved my life when it came to getting around. Living in an urban area of west of Paris is great because I can see how people live outside of the hustle and bustle, and the area itself is beautiful with its big houses, roads covered over with trees and the amazing Saint-Germain-en-Laye just one stop away. However, being so far west can become a problem, which is what I experienced at the weekend.
I had headed into Paris near Le Louvre to meet my friend and enjoyed a lovely crêpe with salted caramel drizzled over it and a cafe latte. On the way home I thought I would pop into Zara to spoil myself after another week of au pairing. A jumper and a cute shirt later I headed to the RER A station Châtelet-Les Halles and awaited the train. It arrived and off we went, however, the train soon stopped. At this point I must express to you how scared I am of being on a train underground, it’s dark and unknown, two of the worst things really! So I sit patiently hoping that the reason we had stopped was because we were waiting for another train to move and I continued this thought until the train had been underground not moving for 25 minutes!! Fear sweat commenced.
Finally, the train started moving and pulled into Auber! Great I thought, I can breathe now, but oh how wrong I was. The telecom came on and a man started speaking, in French of course, and everyone started to get off the train. Now I can barely understand French never mind over a telecom which is hard to understand even in English, so I tell myself follow the crowd and wait to see what everyone does. A big crowd and a number of announcements later they finally put the announcement on the screen. Woooow I can read pretty well so I thought wonderful I can figure out what’s going on!!
“RER line A is no longer in service due to a fire in Nanterre, trains will commence 17:00″
Photo: La Petite Ceinture – taken from: http://upshout.com/nature-reclaims-civilization/
5 o’clock!! No no no no no, the boys finish school at 4:30, how will I get home, what am I going to do! For once, I worried so much about how I was going to get back in time for the boys rather than the fact that I was stranded so far from home without a clue what to do. I rang my host mum and explained the situation, and she told me I would have to go here then here then here then here. I stood at the station thinking, there is no chance that I will be able find my way around, however on 20% battery and 20% left of 4g I set off into the unknown.
I walked 15 minutes to Saint-Lazare, and caught the SNCF train, it soon became apparent that many others were thinking the same and I literally had to push myself into the train that was, in my eyes way over capacity, I’m surprised it even moved with the weight of everyone. There were so many people that I could barely breathe and my top was soaked after – gross I know but it was like being in humid Asia, bang middle in the afternoon!! Not cool!! From there I had to find my way to the bus station and catch a bus to take me back to my town, more running and a full bus, shock shock, I finally made it home!! Nearly 3 hours after I had first left.
Dehydrated, starved and shattered from the day I made it to the boys’ school, where they came out completely unaware of what I just went through to get back in time. One thing I can be lucky for is that I had another option, whereas many others do not! The RER A line is still closed, 4 days later which hasn’t been helpful towards weekend plans. One thing I do know is that once it is back up and running I hope that this type of event won’t happen to me again, as the stress was far too much for me to handle.