“Any rubbish for the bin?” our cheery Aer Lingus flight attendant asked, collecting the remnants of our breakfast. “Any children for the bin? Or have you all been good children now?” I laughed. The travel logistics had gone smoothly and we were almost to Paris.
From the plane window, Dad pointed out the English Channel, which he said the French call La Manche. It’s been 47 years since Dad first came to France and he returned often on business trips. For the rest of us (Mom, Megan, and I), it would be brand new.
We arrived midday Saturday for two nights in Paris, then a week touring northwestern France. We will wind our way through Normandy, Brittany, and the Loire Valley, before returning to Paris for one last night.
Just getting to our hotel was an adventure, with a rolling rail strike in process. On certain days, there are trains running, but only a few. On the RER train from the airport to the city, the crush of humanity seemed limitless, as more people crammed on at each stop, far more than I would have believed possible. As an icebreaker, the experience was unsurpassed, and one young woman even helped us negotiate our transfer to the metro.
People in Paris seem to welcome conversation. At this sidewalk table, we talked with a woman walking her spaniel, who was excited to discover that we were from Maine. She loves watching the TV show “Murder She Wrote,” which still airs here, and wanted to know if Cabot Cove was a real place.
Megan was waiting when we arrived at our hotel, amazingly cheerful despite her suitcase being still in D.C. On the bright side, she got to shop for a new Paris dress!
The Hotel Abbatial St. Germaine, on busy Boulevard St. Germaine, lies close to the Seine River and Notre Dame. Our room is on the street side, with a small balcony, and we’ve enjoyed leaving the door open to the sights and sounds of the city. It also brings fresh air into our small and rather warm room.
We finished the day with dinner at La Procope, the oldest restaurant in Paris. We ordered a bottle of champagne to celebrate our safe arrival. I had a country terrine, coalfish with winter vegetables, and crème brulee, then we walked upstairs to see Voltaire’s desk, which occupied a place of honor amid the elegant décor. Then, to sleep.