|View from our hotel -- Terrible room, but great view.|
|Okay, it wasn't all work. This was our hotel's 34th floor bar view. It didn't suck.|
|Nighttime view -- the hotel room was small, old, and lame -- peeling paint, non-functional tub, but damn, what a view!|
|Iconic. Place de la Bastille -- unexpected bonus of lunch with my childhood French pen-pal.|
Moules Frites -- check. (Across the street from the hotel, a chain, and deliciously so, and from Belgium, whose people, supposedly, are responsible for both the moules in the preparation we enjoyed and the frites, so it was wonderful.)
Bistek tartare – check.
Crepes -- check. We went to the closest creperie to our hotel, just off the Champs Elysees, not too far from the Franklin Roosevelt metro station. I assumed that if a creperie could stay open in Paris it wouldn’t be bad. And my assumption was correct. Normally, I opt out of the dessert crepe, but E convinced me we needed one. He was right. The savory buckwheat crepes were delicious (mmm… mushrooms, emmenthal, et jambon). But the Nutella caramel white wheat crepe was sublime. The quintessential dessert.
|You know you are jealous!|
|Love locks. Going strong on the passarelles of Paris.|
|Nightitme Seine view.|
On the Fourth night in Paris, E and I went out and I ordered encornets a la provencale. (Mmmmm…. Delicious. New to me. Never had squid in this style or preparation before. Absolutely delicious.) (Restaurant Georges.)
The next AM, despite our best efforts, we left France in a typical international travel fiasco. We arrived at Gare du Lyon 1 hour before our TGV. We’d purchased tickets online, however, the automatic ticket machines wouldn’t recognize our US credit cards to print our tickets. So, I went to information, explained the problem, was sent to the guichet, which took a while to find, finally arrived, took a number to wait to be helped for today’s travel issues (not to be confused with *future* day’s travel issues, a much shorter, faster line, for future reference), and learned that there were 34 people in front of me.
|Place de la Concorde|
First, our reservations were a bit complicated to find (of course) because we hadn’t bought directly through the French site, but rather through an EU-wide site. Then, when she found them, she asked, “Vous-etes bien sur que vous avez payez? Je ne vois rien de charges.” (Essentially – I don’t see any charges on your credit card. You don’t have *real* tickets!) Yikes, I had stepped up to the desk with 6 minutes to spare, assuming all I needed to do was show my confirmation, and get the tickets. Somehow, after I assured her that we had indeed been charged, she found my ticket and was getting ready to dismiss me with “Allez, tu dois faire le courir de ta vie” (Go, you must run for your life!) when I explained that I also needed E’s ticket. She found it, printed it, and yelled at the people in front of the door to get out of my way, shouting at me as I left “Allez – VITE! VITE! Vous ne compostez pas, allez juste a la voie C et prennez la premiere voiture.”
So, that’s what we did. I ran frenetically zig-zagging and obviously-not-French through the crowds, found E, grabbed one of the bags, shouted at him – “Track C, First car!” and we ran. We arrived with 30 seconds to spare. The attendant asked as we arrived – “Lausanne?” “Oui!” I breathlessly confirmed. “Allez alors! Montez dans!” Once we were on the stairs, safely inside the first class car, the conductor asked, “Which coach?” Laughing, I admitted that I didn’t actually know. We opened the tickets, confirmed that we had a nice long walk through the train and finally made our way to our 2nd class seats.
|L'Obelisque de la Place de la Concorde.|
Not yet done with the international ridiculousness, after we’d nicely kicked the guy who’d decided to squat in our seats out of the way, I found my way to the bar car to purchase lunches for E&me, since we hadn’t had time to do that in the station. After our food was prepared and ready to go, the credit card system stopped working and I had to explain that all I had was 15 Euros and a bunch of American money. The suite attendant refused to accept my apologies and sent me back to our seats with 26 EU worth of lunch and beer in exchange for my 15 Euros and the promise that I’d bring any and all change I could find. I found less than 2 Euros in my jacket pocket and when I brought it back to him, apologizing yet again, he said, “Vous devez dejeuner. Ce n’est pas votre faute que la machine ne marche pas. Enjoyez!” (You have to eat lunch! It’s not your fault the machine isn’t working. Enjoy!)
Vivez la France!