Friday, Sept. 28th
Day Trip #16


Up early to prepare for our day. We leave Pommard today & go to Paris. My suitcase is getting full w/ boots & gifts.

            A note about bicyclists: We saw many, esp. in the Loire Valley. There are many tours, esp. from chateau to chateau. Some are week long, some day long. Bikes are transported by owners to France or are more commonly rented here. GPS’s are available. We met a woman from Houston who was doing a 2 day / nite bike trip w/ her husband. Also a couple from South Africa doing many days. We also saw bikes in the Burgundy area, but less because of the weather, bec. of more hills, or whatever. We see one couple on a tandem bike w/ the woman reclined on the front & the man upright in the back. (Needless to say, he got on first.)

            Another note: Regarding the caves. We saw carved and dug out caves in the mountainsides. They were man made, dug out stone to be used in construction. They were very visible in the Loire Valley, & are often many kilometers long. They often took centuries to do, & are now used by wineries to store wine bec. of the their constant temp. (52° - 53°) or are turned into troglodytes – homes w/ windows / doors / etc. Unique & interesting & we were inside several.

            We leave at 9:00 from our apartment & head northwest to Paris. It is a sunny, cool day. Before we leave, we are told we are doing the garbage incorrectly. All was supposed to be placed in a black garbage bag, but we were not left directions about that, nor were we left the bags. We travel on the interstate (A6) which has many rest stops along the way. One we stop at, has the toilet with the hole in the floor w/ 2 foot placement tiles. Deb takes a photo.

            BTW, our car is a Citroen C5 Touser (station wagon).

            We have seen many RV’s. All are much smaller than you see in the US. They all looked to be lower than ours in height, & certainly less than 24 ft. Also, the motorcycles – speeding frantically at high speeds between lanes of traffic on the Interstate.


a store front near Rue Napolean

good car for two weeks, tough time getting rid of it


view from room, fifth floor, Rue Napolean

classic Paris street scene


            We arrive in Paris, And stop to buy gas, which we are required to do before retuning the car. We get to town around 12 – 12:15 pm. The GPS (“Miss Direction” says Craig Wilson in U.S.A. Today) does a good job of bringing us directly to our hotel. Traffic is heavy & it is still stressful, despite the GPS. We park on the street near the hotel & all go in while I wait in the car. They decide to wait 15 minutes for the room to be ready so that they have a place to put the luggage. The traffic w/ a bus builds up behind us because a truck is unloading materials for a store across the street. Finally, Don & Tim come out. Deb stays in the room w/ the luggage. We don’t have a complete address for the car drop-off , but know it’s at the railroad station & which street it is supposedly on.  The GPS easily takes us to the train station, but we cannot find where to drop off the car at National. Tim asks a taxi driver for help. Luckily, she speaks English & doesn’t know exactly where to go, but tries to lead us there. (Tim offered to pay her if she did so.) She leads us around the large circle around the train station several times, with no luck finding “No. 4.” Tim spies a Hertz Rent-a-car place & pulls over, & we lose the lady taxi driver. Tim finds a guy at Hertz who comes outside & points out approx. where to go, across form “La Gare”, under the Pullman Hotel. When there, we see a very small sign for National, but when we get down below, we discover it is a pay parking garage. Tim finds a place to park before the toll gate, blocking the exit of the Hertz trucks! Tim & Don go to find help. Tim asks me to take photos of the scratches & scrapes on the car again. Can’t get out & have to climb over the seats to get into the front!  Yikes! What next! I take However, after they’re gone, I discover the back door locks are still childproofed, so I  take photos even though the car is very dirty & bumps are hard to see. Finally, Tim & Don come back. We have to go into the parking garage, & way back down to the 4th floor & park the car. We unload the car of the rest of our things & Tim stuffs his pockets. We cross the street to the Gare Montparnesse.  There are no signs for car rental counters where we can   turn in the key. Finally, we have to ask one of 3 guards/soldiers with huge machine guns for help. He speaks perfect English & tells us where he thinks it is. No luck! We ask another guy who works here for help. Up a staircase, into another garage to a guy who speaks no English, but gestures and w/ our little knowledge of French, we walk way to the back of the bldg. & thru another door.  Still no counter, so we ask a lady in a booth for help. Finally, she is able to direct us to the correct place – thru another set of doors, into another part of the Gare! The Natl. woman behind the counter is very apologetic & says she knows it is a big problem, and she often complains to her bosses about it, but they do nothing. It has taken us 2 hours since our arrival at the hotel to drop off the car! She says she will not charge us the late fee, & Tim also reminds her about the scrapes & bumps which were already on the car.

            We finally head outside to find a taxi, which we do right away. We are a couple of blocks from the gate when Tim says, “Judy, do you have the GPS?” I don’t, & so we realize he has either been pick-pocketed or has left it in the garage on top of the car. Tim tells the taxi driver how to get back to the garage, & he runs in & finds it (Hooray!) sitting on top of the car! Maybe our luck has changed! However, by now, even calm Don says, “I think I might have to take an extra blood pressure pill!” We head to the Hotel Bonaparte on 61 Rue Bonaparte in St. Germain des Pres. Don’s next comment is, “I think this even tops the credit card usage at the bank!” Ha!

            When we arrive at the hotel, we discover a worried Debbie! Had we died? What happened? She thought she had been left alone in Paris forever!

            Off to the streets to find a café for a drink & food. We sit in one across from St. Sulpice Church. Good waiter brings us lots of water, an omelette for me, salad for Don & grilled Sandwich for Deb. Don & Tim have red wine. When Tim doesn’t finish his, I realize he is having problems with his heart. We head out to visit the inside of St. Sulpice, & Tim admits he’s in A-fib. No wonder! All that stress & he ran hard to & from finding the GPS.

            We head back to the hotel & Tim & I settle into our room. He lies down & sleeps, & Don & Deb head out on their own. Tim & I rest until 8:00. Don & Deb come & pick us up, & we go out for a bite to eat. Walk a block & half to where our apartment was that we rented 3 years ago on Rue de Ciseaux. Crepe guy is still there across the street from the apartment.

            We eat dinner at the pizza place on the corner up the street, where we ate a few times in 2009. Me: pizza; Tim – veal w/ pasta; Don & Deb – ice cream, cause they had already had dinner.

            A nice nite. temp.wise. We head back to our hotel, past gorgeous window displays of fabulous clothing. To our room at 9:00. Rooms are small – D & Deb on 3rd floor – us on 5th. We have a small balcony which overlooks the street. European style bathroom w / no shower curtain.

            Tim still in A-fib when we go to bed, despite doubling up on his meds & taking a nap. He feels kind of light-headed & gets winded easily. Hopefully, he’ll be better tomorrow.