Tuesday, October 13, 2015

To Paris!

Day 11: Traffic jams derail the plans


We breakfasted with a bunch of americans at the B&B.  All very nice and all on longer holidays that us, sigh.  We paid Ms. Yveline, thanked her and were on our way pretty early.  We had our last long drive of the trip and wanted to stop in Chartres for the Cathedral before getting to Paris.


We routed ourselves using our Michelin maps.  We debated about which AutoRoute to take: A28 to Lemans to A11 to Chartres, or A10 to Orleans up to Chartres on N154.  We decided on the A10.  This turned out to be the wrong choice because of a multi-car and semi truck accident that stopped traffic for TWO hours between exits 13 and 12 (ours).  Three lanes of traffic completely stopped for TWO hours = misery and no Chartres for us.  


We got off at the first possible exit after the traffic started moving again.  Filled up with diesel and munched on grocery store sandwiches and chips.  Because we didn't want to arrive in Paris really late, we (very disappointed) decided to skip the detour to Chartres.  Without the traffic delay, we would have been there in plenty of time for Malcolm Miller's tour at 1130am.  The Cathedral will be high on the agenda next time.


Traffic flowed pretty light and easy right until the outskirts of Paris.  We had turned on the GPS and also had a printout of the route (from google maps) and were confident we were headed to Hertz at Gare de Lyon to return the car.


The GPSs estimated time of arrival proved to be off by an hour because of ANOTHER multicar accident that was blocking two out of three lanes on Quai Branley.  We were beyond frustrated.  Husband has driven in Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, England, Belgium, Netherlands) numerous times in the past 18 years and we have NEVER encountered one major accident, much less two in one day!  Aargh.


We parked the car in the garage, hoped that it had enough fuel to pass the inspection, then went upstairs to the Hertz office.  This process took about a half an hour but all was well and we didn't owe anything more than the extra 132E that the agent in Lyon had tacked on.


We decided to have a drink at Le Train Blue since we were at the Gare de Lyon for the first time.  It was a nice break but we were not lucky enough to get seated in the section looking at the beautiful dining room.


Husband had his Navigo Decouverte from 2012 (I forgot mine) and it was rechargeable for 25E.  We decided against doing that because we would not need the metro that much.  We got the Carnet of 10 tickets and took the train to the Hotel de Ville stop.  Very easy. 


We came out of the Metro station to the beautiful Hotel de Ville and I was immediately happy!  I was back in my favorite city on a gorgeous autumn afternoon! 


We found our building and went up the four flights of winding stairs to our little rental apartment (www.parisbestlodge.com crazyview), let ourselves in and called Thierry who would meet us in 90 minutes to go over stuff and collect the fee.  I took pictures of the magnificent view then we went looking for groceries and refreshment.


The apartment is small.  It's long and narrow, with sloping floors and a lower than 8 foot ceiling.  The dining table, sofa (bed), and kitchen are all in one.  The very small bathroom is across from the dining table.  The bathroom is really tiny.  The bedroom is separate with a good sized bed (probably a US queen) up against one wall.  It was pretty comfortable.  The bedroom had a good sized closet as you enter and I was able to completely unpack; husband chose not to.  Did not like: no hooks for towels or jackets so we ended up draping them over the chairs.  No place to put an unpacked suitcase (why can't they have at least one of those luggage racks?).  No lighting at all in the kitchen: we took the shade off a lamp and placed it on a shelf in the kitchen which helped.  Hot water ran out one morning (we don't take long showers, either!).  No place to put a book or my glasses on my side of the bed.  Loved:  The view! Great location.  Liked:  The apartment was very clean.  It was well stocked with soap, toilet paper, detergent, etc. etc.  Thierry was very responsive about the hot water issue.  Washer/dryer worked.  Good price.  We would have liked it a lot more had the bed had been a bit bigger and it wasn't up four flights of stairs.  We also decided we like staying in the 7th more than in this area.  Bottom line: Overall, the apartment was what I expected and I can recommend it to others if you know its limitations.  The view is amazing!


We walked over to Notre Dame Cathedral and walked in briefly since a mass was going on.  We found a little grocery store and picked up essentials for breakfast.  We carried our grocery bag into Au Bougnat which has a nice bar.  We sat at the bar with beer and wine and decided to eat dinner there that night (made a reservation before leaving).  We walked back up to the apartment and met with Thierry.


Dinner at Au Bougnat was quite good.  It was pretty crowded, with tables for two lined up against one wall, very close together.  One waitress spoke fluent Spanish (she's French but lived in Argentina and is glad to be back home) so I could communicate.  Husband loved his beef with vegetables and I enjoyed my risotto with shrimp. 


We took the long way back to the apartment, passing by Notre Dame and Hotel de Ville.  It was wonderful to be in Paris!


Takeaways:
1.  You cannot prepare for traffic accidents.
2.  Hope there's a "next time" so you can do the things you couldn't because of the stupid traffic delays.  (Malcolm Miller please don't die before we get there...)
3.  If all train stations had a Le Train Blue like Gare de Lyon, we might take more trains!
4. We'll be returning the car to the airport in the future.  Driving to Gare de Lyon wasn't hard, just frustrating because of the traffic accident and delays.
4.  Paris is beautiful.


Next: It's cold, 3 museums, 4 churches, a special lunch, and a concert at Sainte Chapelle.



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