4.24.09 Bonjour from Paris!
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4.24.09 Bonjour from Paris!
Bon soir from Bois de Boulogneâ€™ camping along the lovely Seine River! Weâ€™re on the west side of Paris in a nice, large caravan park. It is the classic in-Paris campground and has a restaurant, grocery store with warm, fresh baguettes, and a shuttle bus directly to Port Maillot metro station. Very nice!
After last nightâ€™s lovely sleep among the blooming trees and singing birds, we left Monetâ€™s house in Giverny before 8am. We negotiated two very tiny towns which would have been treacherous if thereâ€™d been any traffic at all.
The A14 into Paris is a fast Motorway. We lost count of the tolls paid- maybe 20E today? I donâ€™t know how people afford to drive into the city on a daily basis.
We took the A14 split to the north, rather than A13 to the south. Either would get us to the Bois (which I think is French for "park"), but the Churchâ€™s directions said to exit the ring road at Port Maillot, which is off A14. We werenâ€™t planning on making it all the way east to the ring road, but knew from Londonâ€™s low-bridge adventure that we should follow their directions.
We went through several very long tunnels that said "no trucks" and since weâ€™d turned off the propane before driving, headed on through.
It was only 9:30 am when we arrived at Bois de Bologne and the kind reception girls spoke English enough to get us all checked in and our info. We know now to ask a list of questions (phone, internet, bus details, laundry, showers, tanks, etc).
We emptied our tanks and Jazy kindly ran back to ask for a change in camp sites.
We got out the chairs, table, and awning mat, and got sunburned in the glorious sun! We read all about Paris, walking tours, transportation options, etc.
Then we biked around the Bois, attempting to get to the subway station. Well! The Bois de Boulogne is HUGE. Weâ€™d only gotten halfway there when we decided to return to the camper. It was a glorious ride through beautiful trees, along ball fields, families picnicking, and girls taking horse-riding lessons in a ring. When the wind blew, showers of pink petals fell on us from the lovely trees and covered the ground. Gorgeous!
Also, we decided the bus or the campground shuttle to the subway station is the way to go!
Speaking of transportation, we need more information before we can determine the best Paris options for the week. Weâ€™ve read that the Monday thru Sunday weekly pass, called a Carte Orange, is the best option. The campground has Paris Visite passes that you can buy for a small fortune.
Which gave me the idea to email Ned and ask him to just hire a taxi from the airport and meet us here at the campground on Sunday morning. I felt terrible asking him to do that, but by the time we got a bus to the Metro, the Metro in and changed lines, and after determining whether Nedâ€™s plane was at Terminal 1 or 2 (different Metro stops), and returning back the same way, it is much cheaper for him to just jump in a cab and come here.
Besides, meeting his airplane at 7:45 am would require leaving here about 5:45 am to find him.
We washed some laundry in a bin today since it was 5.5E per washer in the campground. I donâ€™t know what the dryers cost because I think I passed out after reading about the washers. Well, hand-washing is a lot of work. I think weâ€™d do better to be opportunistic about the laundry. Some of the earlier campgrounds cost half that and yet we waited to France to catch up- not too bright on the planning.
Jazy cooked us some dinner and Charles bought our 8E main course of "margarita pizza" from the restaurant as a take-away (to go).
Weâ€™re experiencing some cultural differences, which are interesting. We notice that people look at us a lot. I think they look at everyone a lot. And they donâ€™t really conceal it or smile or look mean in any way. But it does feel different and a bit disconcerting.
Also, when we say "Bonjour" they only sometimes answer. Rarely do they speak first, but the kids have had them sometimes greet them first. I havenâ€™t yet. They also are very sincere should they smile, which I really havenâ€™t seen yet, but that is one thing Iâ€™ve read -that Americans seem insincere in our smiling.
It is interesting though how one feels after the transaction. Jazy was a little put off by a girl her age who, when Jazy approached and spoke to her in very basic French, just blinked at her. We talked about different cultures and how people arenâ€™t trying to be rude, just sincere, etc and so she went off again. When she returned, she was laughing- the girl was from Australia and hadnâ€™t a clue what Jazy was saying in French! Sheâ€™s just arrived on the ferry and was likely in culture shock.
We also recognize too that as we become more comfortable in a new place over time, we send out different vibes of confidence and relaxation, and thus people react differently to us then.
I took a picture from our Texas Calendar of the Alamo and wrote on it "Howdy from Texas!" and put it in our windshield, figuring weâ€™d either get egged or have some good conversations- will let you know. People appear curious about Sugarâ€™s Ireland tags- it is true that there are not many Irish RVâ€™s here. But weâ€™ve seen RVâ€™s from Australia and a big double-decker bus RV from the UK.
So tomorrow is Saturday! We plan to catch the campground shuttle to the metro and then determine transportation passes there. Weâ€™ll try to become pros before Ned arrives so we can act like his tour guides. Each of us is very excited about seeing him again!
Paris will be great fun!