4.24.09 Bonjour from Paris!

Giverny Travel Blog

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Our overnight camping location- at Monet's

4.24.09 Bonjour from Paris!

Bon soir from Bois de Boulogne’ camping along the lovely Seine River! We’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 night’s lovely sleep among the blooming trees and singing birds, we left Monet’s house in Giverny before 8am. We negotiated two very tiny towns which would have been treacherous if there’d been any traffic at all.

Small roads thru ancient town leaving Giverny
Flashbacks of Copan Ruines, Honduras had Jazy and me hyperventilating, but we were through the ancient towns quickly without incident.

The A14 into Paris is a fast Motorway. We lost count of the tolls paid- maybe 20E today? I don’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 Church’s directions said to exit the ring road at Port Maillot, which is off A14. We weren’t planning on making it all the way east to the ring road, but knew from London’s low-bridge adventure that we should follow their directions.

We went through several very long tunnels that said "no trucks" and since we’d turned off the propane before driving, headed on through.

Tunnel into Paris
We followed signs to an earlier exit to the Bois (rather than the ring road) and after a few correct turns, we had just one more split to go. It had a sign to the left that said "low bridge 3.5 meters" and at 3 meters tall, we followed the GPS instructions to the left, held our breath, prayed, and took it! No problem! I think they were being conservative on the bridge max height since the road dipped at the bottom. If you were very long, like 40’, it could be 3.5 meters, but Sugar was fine. Then we were there!

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.

Paris campground entrance
The one they’d given us sloped, backed up to the road, and was so slight that it didn’t even look like a site. They kindly changed it to the one Jazy suggested that is on a corner and oversized. We noted later that every motorhome along that initial "bad row" was foreign and not a single French vehicle was parked there (although the French comprise the vast majority of campers here). We also noted that we did not do as we’ve been told, which is to ask to scope out the site before agreeing and paying. Given we’re here for 10 nights, we’re picky. Besides, for our nearly 500 E (!), we think 10 nights of decent sleep is reasonable.

 

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.

Paris campground - fresh baguettes
It was a great rest.

Then we biked around the Bois, attempting to get to the subway station. Well! The Bois de Boulogne is HUGE. We’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. We’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.

Sugar at Paris campground
They offer the shuttle a la carte for 1.8E per person (half that for children 11 and under), but I think the nearby bus is 1.2E. Honestly, given there are essentially 3 adults and one child, perhaps we should hire a taxi to run us to the Eiffel Tower, which is about as close as the Metro station!

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 Ned’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.

Paris campground baguettes
And we’d have to return to the campground with his bags first anyway before exploring Paris. We’ve been arising earlier each day to be ready for that airport trip, but it will probably be less expensive and exponentially less hassle if he meets us by taxi. So I think that was a wise decision.

We washed some laundry in a bin today since it was 5.5E per washer in the campground. I don’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 we’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).

Paris campground office
It ranked just above the Chinatown London pizza on the "Best pizza in the World" list- at the bottom. I’d swear it was frozen pizza. But we bought more baguettes at the store and all was well. Was that 5 baguettes today?? We’re talking long ones too!

We’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 don’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 haven’t yet. They also are very sincere should they smile, which I really haven’t seen yet, but that is one thing I’ve read -that Americans seem insincere in our smiling.

Just interesting- trying not to judge things as bad because they are different.

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 aren’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 hadn’t a clue what Jazy was saying in French! She’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.

Sugar at Paris campground
And we tend to interpret people’s responses in a softer fashion when we’re not uptight and are ourselves more comfortable. So it will be interesting to see how our perceptions transform of the people we meet along the way. Cities are always interesting.

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 we’d either get egged or have some good conversations- will let you know. People appear curious about Sugar’s Ireland tags- it is true that there are not many Irish RV’s here. But we’ve seen RV’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. We’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!

 

 

 

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Our overnight camping location- at…
Our overnight camping location- a…
Small roads thru ancient town leav…
Small roads thru ancient town lea…
Tunnel into Paris
Tunnel into Paris
Paris campground entrance
Paris campground entrance
Paris campground - fresh baguettes
Paris campground - fresh baguettes
Sugar at Paris campground
Sugar at Paris campground
Paris campground baguettes
Paris campground baguettes
Paris campground office
Paris campground office
Sugar at Paris campground
Sugar at Paris campground
Small roads thru ancient town leav…
Small roads thru ancient town lea…
Small roads thru ancient town leav…
Small roads thru ancient town lea…
Paris campground dump station
Paris campground dump station
Giverny
photo by: Vikram