A view out onto the Arc de Triomphe is certainly a welcome change from the London skyline. Watson Farley & Williams’ office is a stone’s throw from this great landmark, serving as a constant reminder during my working day that I’m living in arguably the most beautiful city in the world.
The office here is smaller than London and everyone has been very welcoming. Within two weeks of being here I had already attended two office parties. The first saw the famous Galette cake make an appearance. The second was a belated New Year celebration consisting of a three-course meal in one of Paris’ best hotels. I started to think I could get used to this.
There is however a fair amount of work to do. The office is a busy one, and the shipping team is no exception. Since I am new to shipping finance, it’s been a steep learning curve but I am learning something new each day, which means that my time here is well spent. It has also been a good opportunity to improve my French, which has been neglected for some time. Although I work in English, the entire office speaks French so there are plenty of occasions to chat with colleagues.
The firm’s apartment is in the Marais, an area where you can find great bars and restaurants, cobbled streets full of character, patisseries (I recommend “La Fougasse”, Rue de Bretagne), and some of the best crepes around. Living in this part of town means that all the ingredients for a great weekend are on my doorstep. Paris is also a relatively small city, and largely accessible on foot, which makes for a perfectly touristy weekend when the visitors have gone - so far I have had trouble keeping them away.
The culture in Paris is prevalent, and can cater for a wide range of tastes; culinary, sartorial and historical. The Musee D’Orsay, the Louvre and the Picasso Museum contain some of the world’s most coveted art. A four-month seat here should see at least a quarter of the Louvre covered - perhaps that is slightly optimistic. Last Sunday I decided to head up to the Sacre Coeur, a lot of steps admittedly, but worth it for the view over Paris and the contrast of this incredible white building against a clear blue sky. The trip was tarnished only slightly by the presence of an extremely tone deaf and lyrically challenged busker singing his version of “Everything I do, I do it for you” on the steps outside to the suffering tourists.
Paris is unique in many ways. It has the atmosphere and buzz of a large European city, but without losing the strong sense of local culture that can be experienced in any of its winding narrow streets, charming cafes and from talking to the Parisians themselves.