Bonjour chers lecteurs !
To begin with, I am back. My husband and I just spent a month in France (with two amazing days in Switzerland thrown in for fun) and I suspect that I will spend the next year or so recording my thoughts and sorting through my pictures.
Last April, during the “A to Z Challenge,” I wrote about 26 things I thought I’d like to see on this trip, and after all was said and done, we saw 21 of those things. Not too shabby, I think! So I will try to share those with you in the coming months. I’ve divided my thoughts up into a few different categories, so you will find funny stories from our trip, practical information on things we found useful or things we could have done better, a little poetry (I hope) and lots of photos!
I miss very much hearing the beautiful French language all around me since I’ve been back. I love the simple act of saying “Bonjour, madame” when entering a shop, and “bonne journée” when leaving. I even miss explaining, time after time, that my poor husband doesn’t speak French and that’s why I am ordering all his food for him. So while I write these posts, I think I could write a little in French and a little in English. I apologize in advance for not translating all the English into French and all the French into English. I just think it might be too much for me. There’s so much to write! So if you need or want something translated in either direction, just say so in the comments and I promise I will do it, and I will do it better than Goo… uh….that one ginormous web thingy with an auto-translator 😉
But first of all… voilà une histoire de notre voyage (here is a story from our travels):
I will begin by saying that my husband’s suitcase was lost in between Chicago and Paris. It was one of those unfortunate situations. It was a “cabin-sized” bag, and indeed, that is all we had. One cabin-sized bag each, and one satchel each. But since the airlines charge to check bags these days, the overhead storage fills up quickly and then they start “courtesy” checking the extra ones. They homed in on his bag (I think because it was red..you know how it’s always the red car that the police pull over? ) and assured us that we
could have it back at baggage claim in Atlanta. Riiiiight. I will spare you the details of how we eventually got to Paris ourselves, because it was a long and somewhat painful process. In any case, we began our first day in Paris by standing in the line for “lost luggage” at the CDG airport. Pas agréable ! I mean, the staff was friendly and as helpful as they could possibly be, but I wanted to see PARIS!!!
We obtained this nice little card so that we could “track” the bag, and hopefully come back and pick it up at some point. In the meantime, we found our way out of the baggage area so I could figure out how to buy the passes which would grant us access to the Regional trains and the Métro for the week.
France Travel Tip #1: If you are staying in Paris for a week or more, it is absolutely worth the money to buy a weekly pass called “Navigo Découverte.” Click here for the official information. Attention: this pass is good strictly from Monday to Sunday. If you try to buy it mid-week, you will find that it expires on Sunday at midnight anyway. Also, you will need a tiny picture of yourself. You can do this at the photo booths in the station, or bring your own. The lady at the guichet leant us a pair of scissors to make it the right size, which is 3cm x 2.5cm. One nice thing – if you go back to Paris later, you can keep the card and simply recharge it. If your stay begins mid-week, you may be better off with the “Paris Pass” which, while more expensive, is meant for tourists and includes some museum passes as well. It is also good for multiple days and can start any day you like. The Navigo Découverte was perfect for us as our visit coincided directly with the days it was valid. We bought the Paris Museum Pass separately for just two days.
So we found un guichet (ticket counter) where I was able to use my French language skills (rather timidly at first) to walk away successfully with two passes. Then, I had to
figure out how to call the owner of the apartment we rented in order to tell him we were leaving the airport to meet him. I had zero luck using Euro coins in the pay telephone (still don’t know why) so I used the free wifi and Skype credit to call him. Then, we spied on the people going to the trains to see where and how they scanned the pass we just bought!
J’ai dû m’habituer à écouter la langue française autour de moi. J’étais très contente d’être en France après avoir étudié la langue depuis trois ans. Les Français parlent très vite! Une phrase utile: “Pouvez-vous parler un peu moins vite, s’il vous plaît?” Mais franchement, une fois qu’ils ont entendu mon accent, ils ont parlé anglais.
Et voilà – ma première impression de la France, dans le train entre l’aéroport et la belle ville de Paris :
Sur la photo, c’est mon mari. Faites attention à ses vêtements. Ce sont tout ce qu’il avait à porter pendant 4 jours ! Sauf…hmmm, c’est une autre histoire ! Donc, c’est une introduction de nos aventures en France!
Prochainement, l’histoire suivant…