Had to do some work to avoid grumpiness when we were advised by email Wednesday afternoon that Thursday's train was cancelled because of the strike. We'll worry later about being reimbursed. In the meantime, all busses I could find were full, save one that went Friday morning 5:30...and then landed us in suburban Paris, probably cranky, late in the day....
So renting a car seemed the best option. Anticipating a drop-off fee for the one-way trip, Paul was nevertheless shocked to find that a rental for 3 days would be 789 Euros. At that point, he suggested switching the conversation to English, as he suspected that perhaps his French was causing a misunderstanding. Here is the best part of the story for Paul, the cloud's silver lining: he was assured that his French was quite good, better than the rental car agent's English. But because of a scarcity of vehicles, the last-minute request on our part, and a hefty fee for dropping the car other than where it had been rented. . . ,Voilà! Beaucoup de bucks!!!
So the compromise was that we would rent it for one day, for 459 euros, dropping it at Charles de Gaulle. Which is what we spent yesterday doing. The good part of this is that it reminded us why prefer train travel over driving.
The bad part of this was the traffic around Paris. With the trains on strike and the taxi drivers very cranky, there are apparently more cars on the road than normal. We drove 550 of the kilometres from Bordeaux in about 4 hours,thanks to Vinci autoroutes (54 more euros in road tolls, another 50 or so in diesel). The last 75 or so to the airport? About 2.5 hours. At perhaps 15 kilometres away, lurching from one standstill to another, we stopped numerous times to allow emergency vehicles to make their way through. very impressive to watch a large van of gendarmes find a way through three solid lanes of traffic. then another, then an ambulance, a Sapeurs-pompiers truck, then another of those, and several more discreet emergency vehicles, black, marked only by the flashing blue light on top.
Once we finally got past the bouchon, we were at the airport in minutes. The Car Rental Return was easy to find, the RER was running, and the walk from Gare du Nord to our Latin Quarter hotel took us through the bustling, slightly gritty 10th in sunny, happy Paris with all its smells and sights and sounds. . ,
And we found this view from our room. . .
Today, we spent the morning in the Cluny Museum, had falafels for lunch in the Marais, checked out what's happening at Les Halles (big architectural changes being made in this central spot), ate ice cream on a bench in the shade by a bridge, held hands while crossing bridges, indulged in one cranky moment and another weepy one ('cause sainthood is boring, y'know?), and now we're chilling in our room before heading to the Jardin du Luxembourg for some more park bench sitting. Then dinner with friends this evening.
And tomorrow, we head back out to Charles de Gaulle for our flight to Italy. My adult children and their families have been flying this week, and a bit of me has lifted anxiously into the sky with each flight. I won't be relaxed until we're all together tomorrow evening....Meanwhile, however, I'm doing my best to squeeze a very good day and a half out of a favourite city....