Last night, Air France, Boston to Paris, scheduled departure 8:45 pm, boarding time 8:30 — actual departure, 12 midnight! We left the gate almost on time, taxied just far enough so when they discovered there might be an issue with the plane’s pressurization system we were stuck on the tarmac. Three hours later it was fixed and we had to return to top off the fuel before departure. I’m not saying making sure the pressurization system is in tiptop shape isn’t supremely important, but couldn’t they have figured that out while the plane sat at the gate for an hour while hordes of people waited in uncomfortable seats to board. Just sayin!
In any case we arrived safely into Charles de Gaulle 3 hours late. My tall son has a hard enough time fitting his long legs in a coach seat but 3 hours of sitting before we take off is agony. The crew did what they could under the circumstances but gone are the days when you actually like to travel by air. Large planes, small spaces, crying babies, overworked flight attendants “have a nice flight” Ya right!
Now that getting here is out of the way, we’re here – in Paris, city of light – oh my god!
Initially, planning transportation from the airport into Paris I opted to be adventuresome (and cheap), this was before Brian decided to join me on this leg of the trip. My planning would have been brilliant had we not had a 9 hour flight rather than a 6 hour flight. We exited the airport for the Roissey bus which goes directly to Opera Metro station which is a short hop to the Metro station close to our apartment in the 7th arrondissement – that is if you know exactly where everything is and how to buy tickets etc. In hind sight a taxi would have been a better option – which Brian nicely pointed out when we finally got there.
A little bit about Parisians, my previous two times in Paris I found the Parisians snobby and far from helpful. However this time I’m really finding a change. I know the French economy has been challenging, and the Parisians may be beginning to understand they really do need the crass tourists and their money, or it may be the big push the government made to make Paris more friendly has paid off. We’ve encountered nothing but helpful people. The information guy at the airport, the person in the bus line who actually smiled when I asked her in broken French how much the bus cost. The information person at the Metro station who took one look at me fumbling with our new metro passes and asked if we had any questions. She was kind and friendly. The guy at the Orange store who had run out of SIM cards but gave me excellent directions and insisted on printing out a map to the apartment address. I’ve just noticed a significant change in people. I like it!
Fast forward through all the bus and metro challenges, we arrive a 6 Rue Exposition, the door code works, the elevator is, as advertised “very small” so I go up the 5 flights with the bags and Brian climbs, the key is under the mat and we’re in. Everything is as advertised and we can finally relax a bit.
We’re both exhausted but we know we can’t succumb to sleep for several hours. After a quick shower we head out to the Eiffel Tower just a few blocks away. The weather is dry and mid 70’s, the sun is shining and we’re in Paris.
The Eiffel Tower is nice up close, standing in front you realize just how tall it is, and marvel at the intricate weave of metal etc, but the real beauty of the tower is the glimpses you get as you walk around the city – there it will be when you least expect it.
The lines are too long to even consider ascending, and we know we’ll have other opportunities to see the city from a height so after wandering around the Champs de Mars a bit we head back to the apartment. A quick stop to get wine and food at the market and we’re home.
By this time its 5 pm and we only have to stay up a few more hours before crashing. We chose to spend that time drinking wine and snacking on cheese, bread, and chips – dinner. By 8 Pm we’re passed out for the night. Bonne nuit.