ADVENTURES IN FRANCE AGAIN. FINALLY.

I’m going to try to blog each day of the trip to Paris and Versailles for my own sake as much as hopefully someone’s reading pleasure or at the very least, travel-tip assist. Let’s see if I can remember each day over the next week or two it will take me to think back and record. Ha! This should be interesting.

After planning for months and months (and years) by my husband Robert, we set out for our second trip to Paris and Versailles. The first leg was a flight from DFW to Chicago; the second, Chicago to Paris. Unlike our first trip four years ago, I found I had no time on the plane for blogging or reading. I have no idea what I did to take up all that time – unless it was eating. And drinking. And that five hour nap. Next thing I knew I was awakened by an announcement that we were less than 90 minutes away from landing. I quickly assessed my priorities and decided watching Pride & Prejudice and Zombies was numero uno.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t made it through more than maybe 45 minutes before I had to shut down and start actually trying to refresh myself in the horrible airplane bathroom. Side note: On the way home I’ve decided I’ll use bottled water to put my contacts in and will brush my teeth at my seat rather than enter that domain again. Seriously. Can a flight attendant put on a plastic glove and maybe just shove all the paper towels that are pouring out of the swinging trash door down into the trash for us all? Take a stick to it, I don’t care. I just know I’m not touching any of it. But I’m not being paid to ensure people’s comfort and well-being like a flight attendant might be. With regard to the lavatories, they’re more bystander than attendant.

Anywho…

From Charles de Gualle Airport we cabbed it to the Renaissance Arc de Triomphe Hotel. Our home for the next 5 nights. The lobby was too trendy for words, with uncomfortable looking chairs made from grocery carts. Or made to look like grocery carts. Because (Heads up!) grocery carts are totally hip. You heard it here first.

The equally trendy and attractive staff was friendly and polite, speaking enough English and us enough French to get by nicely. That means they were fluent and we were capable of saying yes, no and thank you, all with equal enthusiasm. We also seemed to acquire French accents when speaking English. “A” for effort, I suppose. By the end of the trip we were holding conversations with wait staff and salespeople in which we slipped in and out of saying “oui” and “yes” as though we were so bi-lingual we just never knew what language we might speak in. When all else failed, the poorly performed French accent, like Inspector Clouseau, served just as well. (We’re delusional.)
When the room was ready we put a few things up and walked down the Champs Elysees to Tuileries Garden. By the time we got there I had a blister on the back of each heel. So much for the walking boots. We made the decision I needed enough wine Now I know why I’ve worn the brown boots, not the black boots around Cardiff, London, Paris and Versailles over the past 5 years. Madden Girl boots. They were my best travel purchase ever.

We decided to try to numb my heel, or my self pity with wine and cheese so we sat in the garden and ate charcuterie at Cafe des Marronniers until we were delirious. Here began my ongoing relationship with a yellow jacket that stalked me the rest of our time in Paris and on to Versailles. But that’s another story.

As my heel was feeling a tad better and the yellow jacket was becoming more aggressive, we shuffled on to Musee de l’Orangerie because – Monet. The moment I walked into the first cycle of Water Lilies, I welled up. Like four years ago, I tried to get as close as my father would to examine every stroke. Which is why I was reprimanded by the guard. I responded with an enthusiastic, “Merci!”

 

After cabbing it back to the hotel, Robert went to Nicolas (the nearby wine store) while I put my feet up. We had dinner on the balcony looking at the Eiffel Tower and the Arc. (We’re on a first name basis now, the Arc de Triomphe and I.)

Robert can book an amazing hotel room. It’s his super power.

We toasted the first day of our vacation and then…

We slept. Soundly. After all, tomorrow’s itinerary was waiting.  The Eiffel Tower and Le Jules Verne for lunch…

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AU REVOIR SANITY

Warning: this post is all over the place. The impending departure has obviously produced ADD symptoms. I stop and start more times than…something that stops and starts a lot. <Fail.>

Saturday: We leave soon for Paris! My guest bedroom is covered in clothing, suitcases and shoes. Robert is color coding our itinerary so I know what to select from this hodge-podge of a wardrobe.

Work was challenging Friday, as it always is when you prepare to go on vacation. You try to wrap up all those loose ends, but have short-timers and are completely unable to focus. The fact that well-wishing co-workers stopped by regularly to speak to me in French or advise me how to carry my purse so as to minimize the chance of it being stolen didn’t help matters.

I have received thought-provoking hand written notes on our infamous itinerary from those co-workers who frequent Paris. I appreciate their advice and comments more than I can say – for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which was the comic relief. “Seems a long way to go to smoke a “j,” noted beside one particular destination will keep me laughing for days. I believe we have crossed that off the list. (The cemetery where Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde reside.)

I’ve been told to not bother speaking French, as it will just tick them off, but would like to at least be able to say please, thank you, you’re welcome, good day and such.  I’m having trouble with the “you’re welcome” or “no problem,” but have considered it and concluded no Parisian will be thanking me for anything anyway, most likely. Unless it’s for leaving. Perhaps a curtsy will suffice in a pinch.

Sunday: I stopped writing yesterday and went back to packing. I’m glad I did because I discovered there was NO WAY IN HELL all these clothes were going into one bag. I haven’t even started on the evening wear! Last night I borrowed a second from my in-laws and will be loading that up as well. The fact that I will still, no doubt, stand in the hotel room each morning crying, “I have nothing to wear!” should make Robert’s head explode. What’s a wife for, anyway?

<Time lapse.>

I have just spent an hour online researching cheese course etiquette. I have serious mental problems. Cheese course etiquette is now my greatest concern. Sigh.

I would like to offer a special note of thanks to my adorable marketing team (with whom I work – not who market me) for supplying a collection of scarves, cardigans and belts to take on my trip. I am not really an accessories girl, so they are responsible for pulling my whole “I’m not a tourist, I am actually French” look together. And it is a “look.” Once I open my mouth, it’s all over.

They are also to blame for my two suitcase situation, because now half my suitcase is full of scarves, cardigans and belts.

And finally, in a semi-awkward segue, say hello to the Flat Marketing team. My companions, (in addition to Robert) on this adventure. If I can fit them in the suitcase, that is.