Considered to be one of the most beautiful and romantic capitals of the world, Paris is a city of sophistication and where the art of living is cultivated.
Here, everything lasts a little longer and starts a little later, all in the name of a “pause café”. The French take their coffee, and all that comes with it, very seriously and taking part in the terrace way of life is just one way to start living à la française. Realising that this was the done thing, I quickly re-adjusted my morning routine to start with a little espresso and a croissant on a terrace with views to the Arc du Triomphe. I then stroll down to the Herbert Smith office on Av Marceau. Now, couldn’t we all get used to this?
Paris is a fantastic city. It is relatively compact, which means that you quickly find your bearings. Getting around is relatively easy too, especially if you are ready to cycle (best way to see Paris). Museums cater for all tastes. Indeed some of the world’s best known museums are at your finger tips… The Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, the Pompidou Centre, the Musee Rodin, etc. Two of my personal favourite things to do is to get lost in the Louvre (and give up on the floor plan) and spend hours looking out on to the Seine from the clock at Musee d’Orsay. There are beautiful parks (sunbathing in the Champ de Mars with views of the Eifel Tower is unbeatable!), amazing restaurants (oh that entrêcote), lovely cafés and fantastic shopping.
And if you manage to tick off all the fantastic things that Paris has to offer, there are great day trips to do too. Taste champagne in Epernay, visit Monet’s house and lily garden in Giverny, and wonder around the glamorous Chateau de Versailles. If you are lucky enough to be here during the summer, the Fête de la Musique – a 24-hour music bonanza with concerts on practically every street corner – is not to be missed. It was one of the best days of my secondment in Paris.
Herbert Smith has been in Paris since 1964 and has since developed a broad-based French and international practice. The Paris office advises both on French and English law aspects and includes some of the best specialists in their field. Herbert Smith’s top tier Africa practice is also run out of Paris, meaning that my experience here has truly been international. It is definitely a great place to be if you have an interest in emerging markets and would like to get closely involved in cross-border deals in all sorts of places. As the office is smaller than London (although there are still over 100 lawyers, including 25 partners), the experience that you get as a trainee is very varied. Learning about different business cultures and working practices has also been very interesting… especially when a conference call is replaced by a tête-à-tête and a pause café in a charming Parisian terrace. Ooh la la, c’est la vie!