Is the HEC Paris Summer School Worth It?

I attended the HEC Paris Summer School in Luxury Management in 2016, and this is a question I get asked a lot online from people trying to figure out whether to go for it or not. In this article I’m going to break down my experience of attending it, and why it was worth it for me. I hope you can use my experience to figure out whether it’ll be worth it for you.

Why I chose the HEC Paris Summer School

For my bachelor’s I studied Computer Science — however, I was always interested in marketing and business. I was also particularly interested in luxury as an industry. I was also not particularly interested in being a software engineer, and that’s why over the summer break I wanted to do something that would be interesting to me, as well as valuable for my education — that’s when I started looking for summer school programs.

I found HEC Paris through a Google search. I’d never heard of the school before, and I quickly learned that it was one of the elite business schools of the world, and it had a Luxury Management Summer School program. It was 2 weeks long, it wasn’t as expensive as the American summer schools (those can run up almost $10k or more!) and the course content looked super interesting. Plus it was in Paris (or so I thought).

I applied and I got in!

The Experience

The Campus

The HEC Lake

The HEC campus is located in a quaint little town called Jouy-en-Josas, near Versailles, almost 25 kilometers south of Paris. I guess that’s just close enough to justify the name ‘HEC Paris’? Either way, the campus is quite beautiful. There’s a lake and lots of open space. The S Building where the summer school classes are held is really modern and state-of-the-art. The residences at the time I went were quite old, but they’ve updated them now, and they’re quite modern and comfortable as well.

Academic Coursework

My coursework was absolutely top-notch and high quality. Every day there were either 3 hours or 6 hours of classes with a 10-minute break in between. We learned the fundamentals of Luxury Management, touching upon various core topics as well as highly relevant case studies.

I was taught by Patrick Albaladejo, who’s an extremely experienced and knowledgeable professor with tons of industry experience. On top of that, we had some amazing guest lectures by Michel Chevalier and Gachoucha Kretz as well as Chanel’s CTO at that time.

My group for the Dior project.

Besides classes, we had two assignments — one 4-page paper due at the middle of the course, as well as a group assignment to suggest an innovative idea to a luxury brand after identifying a pain point.

My group chose Dior as our brand, and we first went to the Dior flagship store on Avenue Montaigne to understand their sales process, and then created a presentation detailing a new loyalty program that we imagined for the brand.

Being the first time attending an academic program outside of India for me, it was truly amazing and a big step up from the memory/rote-based learning I was used to at home.

creating connections

I met some truly interesting people at the summer school, some of whom I’m still in touch with today. It was an interesting mix of students from all over the world, as well as at different points in their academic careers.

Some students were bachelor’s students (like I was, at that time) who joined the program for the experience, and others were current master’s students who were collecting ECTS credits for their programs through this course as well.

I learned a ton from the people around me, inside and outside the classroom. We had picnics, explored Paris together, stayed out till 2am, roamed around the campus (which is beautiful, by the way) and partied hard. It was truly amazing, and you can see what my experience actually looked like in the video below.

It was a fantastic experience to work with people from different cultural and social backgrounds, something that provided me more learning than the actual course itself.

What did I get out of it

The HEC Paris Summer School was a life-changing experience for me. It was the first time I did an academic program outside of India, the first time I worked with students from around the world, the first time I travelled abroad by myself at the age of 19.

Academically, aside from gaining a background into the luxury industry, I gained exposure to the world of business studies and marketing, which solidified my decision to study business and marketing for my master’s. Through the program, I also learned about the HEC Paris Grande École program that I’m currently in right now.

In the program, I met some amazing and inspiring people that exposed me to different ways of thinking, different food, and different cultures and backgrounds. I learned how to use chopsticks during summer school as well! Even though I’m not in touch with most of my classmates from the program anymore, those people contributed to the development of my global understanding and my worldview.

Is it worth it?

That’s something that a lot of people ask me. I get tons of messages from people who’ve seen my YouTube video on the summer school asking me ‘is it worth it?’, ‘I’m interested in making a career in xxx, is the summer school worth it for that?’, and so on.

Here’s my take on this — the summer school program is not something that’ll wildly assist a career change or will give you something super impressive to put on your CV to convince employers. Although it does look good on my resume, I don’t think it’s something that will definitely open any doors for you, by itself.

If you’re into luxury (or any of the other summer school programs available at HEC), it’s a fantastic program to do to build your knowledge, meet interesting people, and gain a unique life experience. From that perspective, it’s totally worth it.

I would highly recommend doing it if you have the time and the means to do so. However, do adjust your expectations out of it.

Weekend Trip from Paris: Étretat

Last summer when I was planning out my solo Europe trip, something told me inside that I should go visit a place by the sea. Specifically, a place by the sea with cliffs. Hence, I decided to do what anyone would do in that situation: I googled, “cliff next to sea in France”. I found an article that talked about the most dramatic sea cliffs in the world, and right at #10 was Étretat.

But how was I to get there? Étretat is 200km away from Paris by road, and I did not have a car (or a licence, but that’s another story). Google Maps did not find a route by public transport from Paris to Étretat either. Where was I to stay? There were no hostels in Étretat, only a few independently run hotels. After a ton of research and translation, I finally figured out a plan, which I’m going to share with you here, in case you plan to take a trip to this lovely Normandy town on the French coast.

Getting to Étretat

If you have a vehicle, it’s quite simple. It’s a 200km drive from Paris to Étretat and it will take you around 2:40hrs. You can get the directions on Google Maps quite easily. However, if you are relying on public transport, that’s when it’s not so obvious.

Here is the two step process from Paris to Étretat:

1. Train from Paris to Le Havre.
There are a number of trains that go from Paris to Le Havre, but you can’t just book any train. You need to take into consideration the timings of the bus from Le Havre to Étretat (detailed in the next step) so that when you reach Le Havre you’re in time for the bus that takes you to Étretat from there.

According to the bus schedule of Ligne n°24 (the bus from Le Havre to Etretat) there is a bus at 10:12hrs, 13:12hrs, 16:25hrs, 16:40hrs and 18:05hrs on weekdays throughout the year, and 10:15hrs, 11:30hrs, 12:30, 18:15hrs and 18:25hrs on Sundays throughout the year.

You’ll need to book a train at a suitable time so that you reach just before the bus from Le Havre leaves. I suggest booking a train that arrives at least 20 minutes before the bus leaves, in order to allow for any confusion. You can book a train at the sncf ticketing site here. The train leaves from Paris Gare Saint-Lazare, and will take 2:09hrs to arrive at Le Havre.

Fun fact: there are 7 stations in Paris, divided upon the region to which the trains go. Make sure you’re at the right one.

2. Bus from Le Havre to Étretat.
I hope you haven’t chosen a train such that you would have to wait too long at the Le Havre station. I found the station a little shady, and it was not at all a pleasure to wait there. You wouldn’t want to wait too long there.

You’ll need to take the Ligne n°24 (or line no. 24) from the Le Havre station to Étretat Mairie. The bus stand is right outside the station, and it’ll be written (or you could ask) where exactly bus 24 would be standing at. You’ll have to pay the €2 bus ticket at the bus itself.

Follow the exact same directions in reverse in order to get back.

You don’t wanna wait too long at Le Havre station. I found it quite shady.

Staying in Étretat

I stayed at the Hotel d’Angleterre in Étretat last summer, and I had a great experience. The rooms were very neat, the wifi was decent, the check-in and check-out process was quite simple. The hotel was close by to the beach area, and the hotel manager was quite friendly too. Overall I had no complaints.

You can access the hotel’s website here and make a booking. The site is in French, but can be translated to English using Google Translate. I paid €69/night for my room in June’16, and I found it to be the most reasonable among all the hotels in Étretat at the time.

What To Do in Étretat

Étretat is a small town, 4km squared, with around 1,500 inhabitants. It is best known for its cliffs which overlook the sea. Most people take a day trip to Étretat, but I decided to spend two nights and one whole day there.

There’s actually not much to do in Étretat. It’s all about the experience. It’s a fabulous place to take a break from the bustle of life, from the movement of the city, or just to experience some calm and serenity, which is often difficult to find in cities. I, for example, spent the entire time there near the beach and the cliffs, just walking around and taking photographs.

The cliffs of Étretat, as seen from the beach.

My first evening there, I was lucky to witness what I believe has been the most beautiful sunset of my entire life. I climbed up the cliff to the right side of the beach, and at the top I saw the most beautiful setting of a church right in the middle of lush green grass. There were other people walking around too, but it was far from crowded. I felt completely at peace.

My first evening there, I was lucky to witness what I believe has been the most beautiful sunset of my entire life.

The church at the top of the cliff.

My second day there, I started with climbing the other cliff on the left side. It was a beautiful hike, and I witnessed some very breathtaking views of the town from the top. After finishing the hike and getting back to Étretat, I got myself some raspberries and sandwiches from the grocery store and sat by the beach to eat my meal.

The view from the other cliff.

I then spent some time walking at the bottom of the cliffs, exploring the caves and different formations. Keep in mind that the tide can rise while you’re walking around, leaving you stranded with no way to get back other than by calling emergency services and having a boat sent your way. Hence, always follow the crowd and when you see people starting to leave/the tide starting to rise, start heading back to the shore immediately.

I got myself some raspberries and sandwiches from the grocery store and sat by the beach to eat my meal.

Unfortunately, by the end of my second day there it started getting very cloudy and started to rain later on in the night. Fortunately, I was leaving the next day for Brussels.

My Étretat Vlog

I think you’ll get a much better understanding of the vibe of the place if you watch the vlog I made about my experience there.


Leaving Thoughts

I really hope this post inspires you to take a trip to Étretat if you’re around the area at any point in your life. I can easily say that Étretat is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life, and I will always cherish my experience in the June of 2016 there.

Do leave a comment if you have any questions or thoughts, and I’ll be happy to answer them. You can even email me or send me a message on Facebook.


Review of: L’Opéra Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi

Yesterday I went to the Hauz Khas Village in New Delhi to meet up with some friends. While I was there, I discovered this cute little French boulangerie et patisserie named L’Opéra which had nice large glass windows and yummy looking treats inside!

When I peeped in, I couldn’t really see any macarons, so I casually remarked to my friend that “You know, they don’t have any macarons.” The lady who worked there heard me and excitedly said “We do!”, which succeeded in enticing me to go in and check them out. Read on to hear my thoughts!

Service and Ambience

The store was very well decorated in the Christmas spirit.

My friend Prakhar and I decided to order two macarons – chocolate and raspberry, and a “Royal Chocolate” to split.

The service was quite fast, and the serving staff was very courteous and polite. The man who served us delivered us our order quite promptly, and was very polite and amiable. He always spoke to us and served us with a smile, and his service really justified the price that we were paying at L’Opéra. He even agreed to take a photograph of my friend and I while we were there, with no qualms at all, and he did not seem to be in a hurry.

The shop was quite well decorated in the Christmas spirit, and felt extremely welcoming. There was a small Christmas tree on the counter, and the entire place was decked out in Christmas ornaments. For a moment, I really felt like I was transported back to Paris, looking at the items on offer and the decor. Many restaurants try to be foreign feeling, but end up looking quite try-hard. L’Opéra, though, seemed to have found a balance between feeling authentic, and at the same time capturing the Parisien and French charm.

L’Opéra did not have that feeling of being too try-hard foreign that many restaurants seem to evoke.

However, I must add that their seating area was quite… cosy. There were only two tables, each with the capacity of three, and two tall bar tables that didn’t look too comfortable. That is why it came as no surprise that most customers in the shop were there for a takeaway rather than to sit down and enjoy their pastries. The L’Opéra in Hauz Khas Village seemed more suited for a quick takeaway than a chill session.


The macarons and the Royal Chocolate

Let me start off with the macarons. The one I had was raspberry.

When I popped the entire thing into my mouth, at first the macaron felt slightly hard, but as I bit into it, I could start to taste the raspberry filling in between. The raspberry felt quite refreshing and cool, and the surrounding macaron was quite light as well. It was certainly not comparable to the macarons I’ve had in France at Angelina and the Lindt Shop, also incidentally at the Paris Opéra, but it did a good job at introducing someone to what a macaron is, since most folks around here would probably have not tried one before.

Macarons are meant to be had in the following fashion (according to moi):

  1. Pop the entire macaron into your mouth.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Slowly bite in and take in the flavour.
  4. Order another one.

I did the same at L’Opéra with their macaron, and I thought it was quite decent. Not super expensive either, at ₹132 for one.


Next up, the Royal Chocolate. This one was a completely different beast! So rich, so chocolatey!

Starting from the first bite into this delicious brown coloured cube of sugary goodness, I could feel my heart telling me “Bro, this is absolute pure bliss. Give me more.”, and my eyes automatically shutting in order to focus completely on the flavour that was melting in my mouth. It was the perfect blend of chocolate, and it was made absolutely remarkably. The person responsible for baking this beautiful little thing must be excessively talented.

However, it was quite expensive, at ₹310 for one. I personally felt it was worth it, though.

To Sum Up

I think this is a fantastic place, and if you happen to find one around Delhi you must step in and try it out. The macarons may not be their strong point, but you can try out one in order to get a taste of what it is like. In other words, they are not bad, but not very great either. However, their pastries and mousses seemed very well made. Royal Chocolate was absolutely wonderful, and I would love to go again to try out more.

Cookies on sale at L’Opéra

You can give the macarons a miss, but definitely try out their pastries and mousses.

Do leave a comment below if you’ve been there or want to go, and let me know your thoughts!

– Mayank

We Don’t Talk Anymore.

by Charlie Puth. I made a cover of it with my friend Ilaana!

We both had been planning on recording a cover together for years – and it finally happened.

Mid-recording photography.

It was a great amount of fun. We didn’t have a mic stand or even a table, so we just set everything up on the ground. Some spare shoe-boxes filled in as a replacement mic stand. The wooden flooring in my apartment provided the backdrop for most of the shots.

Some more mid-recording photography.

We’re actually working on another song right now as well. Stay tuned for that! 😄

The Solo Europe Trip – The Vlog

Hello there! As you guys may already know, earlier this summer I was on a solo trip in Europe to do a summer program and travel around for a bit after. And I was vlogging throughout!

Here’s episode 1 of the vlog series 🙂


I hope you enjoy it, and stay tuned for the upcoming episodes.



Paris in Black and White