Trip to France, Day 1

Day 1
Monday, September 7, A plane, a train, and a bus!

We arrived at Charles DeGaulle Airport at about 8:45 AM, and quickly discovered that we were among many hundreds, if not thousands, of international travelers there. The line to get our passports stamped snaked around so many times and took so long that it reminded us of Disney World. However, we knew that once through the line, our reward would be much better than a five-minute ride.

Although we use carry-on size luggage, Nick prefers to have our luggage stowed. It took so long for one of our suitcases to arrive on the conveyor belt that we were getting a bit concerned, but it was one of the final pieces out of the plane. Our next step was to find the train we needed to take, and to buy tickets. Eventually, with a little help from another ticket buyer, we had our tickets. A very polite Frenchman helped me to carry my luggage down the staircase to the train.

Once inside the train, I noticed that some of the stops were indicated on the wall chart by a bold circle, while others were not. Our stop was not. Everyone else on the train was carrying luggage, so I figured they didn’t know any more about this than we did. Finally, a long haired young woman without luggage boarded the train, so I asked her if the train would stop at our station. She replied, “It’s, like, in three stops.” Aha!

Part three of our excursion was finding our bus, but we soon discovered that the bus stops, bus numbers and routes were clearly marked. We found the right bus number going in the right direction. While we were waiting, a woman came up to us and asked us for directions. I told her, “Nous ne parlons pas français!”

Once off the bus, we walked a few blocks until we reached Jose-Maria and Agnès’ apartment. Agnès was at her office, but Jose-Maria welcomed us warmly. He mused that it had been four years since he had spoken English, and that occasion was our trip to Paris four years before!

By then it was time for lunch. We walked to a Salvadoran restaurant in the neighborhood, where I enjoyed an international meal of chicken with mushroom risotto and mousse au chocolat. After a long nap, we went out for a walk in the neighborhood, arrondissement 13. Day 1 Photo 2aThis excursion took us to our favorite nearby street, Rue Mouffetard, which is closed to vehicular traffic and is lined on both sides with a variety of shops offering snacks such as crèpes and ice cream cones, meals at sidewalk cafés, or food to be taken home. At the base of the street there’s a restaurant that was used in the filming of “Julie and Julia,” which was shot during one of our previous visits. Rather than eating, though, we took in the ambience… the sights, sounds and the aromas. When we returned to J-M and Agnès’ apartment, Agnès was home from work and the four of us enjoyed spaghetti with sauce made by J-M while we caught each other up on what our lives during the past four years.

8,397 steps taken, according to our pedometer