Off to Paris! The packing up took just under 2 hours–good information to know when we pack up to go home in 2 weeks. (But please don’t make me think about going home yet!) Our host, Benjamin, comes by before we leave and returns our deposit of 100£. That means we now have to get rid of these British pounds! We’ll pay the cabbie and then exchange them in Paris because we ain’t coming back here to use them.
Our cabbie was from Somalia and he was a very genial fellow. He was also a VERY well-informed member of the world. He had a good grasp of American politics and talked about pretty advanced economic theories. He was way ahead of me and he’s making a living as a cab driver. It was a pleasant and interesting drive to the train station.
Before we left on this trip I bought a couple of “knife safes” so we could bring good knives with us to use in the kitchen. I was pretty proud of myself when I thought to order them from Amazon and with our Amazon Prime I was able to get Sunday delivery. But I was REALLY mad when I could not find them the day we left! I did find them in London when I unpacked my suitcase which made me even madder at myself for not remembering that they were there. BUT I was happy that my memory is somewhat failing me because we discovered that we could not carry any knives over 3″ in length on the train to Paris. So if I would have remembered where the knife safes were and if I would have brought the knives, we would have lost them. (And they would have been our nice, expensive knives.) So now I think I’m brilliant!
Howard fortunately had read thoroughly about the procedures at the train station. He made sure we got to the security line and through immigration and customs in good time. The train trip through the Chunnel was easy and fast. And, no, we did not see any fish! Our driver eventually found us at the Paris station after a few back and forth phone calls. I finally realized all I needed to tell him was that we were in front of the #5 voie (platform) which I could read off the sign in front of me.
The Paris traffic to our apartment was a mess! He dropped us off in front of our apartment door and successfully got us into the foyer. We said “Merci, au revoir!” And then quickly realized we could not get through the second security door. We were in luck; he had not yet pulled away from the curb. He showed us that we needed to place a magnetic key ON the apartment registry list–we never would have figured that out but apparently it is a usual thing here in Paris.
Up we go 4 flights of stairs (80 steps!) with 5 pieces of luggage and a couple of small over-the-shoulder bags (camera and iPad bags). My heart nearly exploded! And my arthritic knees nearly gave out. I thought all our walking and climbing in London for a week made us much stronger! Apparently that was not the case. So hopefully 2 weeks in Paris will help us on our way to fitness.
We have a beautiful apartment in the very best part of Paris! We have stayed in this area of Paris several times and know our way around. We have favorite shops and restaurants here and we feel right at home. Howard ran out right away to get some wine for us. We sat back with our feet up and the windows open so we could listen to the wonderful sounds of Paris, sip our wine and consider the 2 weeks we have ahead of us.
The apartment has a collection of restaurant business cards from past tenants. We find one that is nearby and I make a reservation via the Internet (much more easy than calling and having to communicate effectively by phone). We get a reservation for 7pm. Before dinner we take a little walk. It’s raining just a little but we really don’t notice.
At 7 we are the first to arrive at this REALLY tiny restaurant, Le Petite Vatel. It seats 18 people max! The lady is so nice and helpful. She brings us the little blackboard with the evening’s choices. We understand 75% and she fills in the rest of the information for us. Howard orders blood sausage in filo for his 1st course and beef cheeks with potatoes and nicely cooked vegetables for his 2nd course. I order little steamed clams for my 1st course and veal stuffed with ground lamb and beef with roasted garlic and perfectly cooked carrots, haricot verte and cauliflower.
We are happy to finally get some really good vegetables! There is a dearth of good vegetables in London. We share the third course: a nice big slice of aged Lauguiole cheese. French cheese–magnifique! For the dessert course we both have clafoutis with mirabelle plums. Espresso coffee ends the meal. The price for our meal was $145. And that is exactly the price we’d expect to pay for that kind of dinner–unlike London where everything is so incredibly expensive. The exchange rate is 1€ to $1.13 here in France–that’s the lowest we’ve seen for over 10 years!!! What a great first dinner in Paris! We could have not asked for anything more. We are off to a great start.
Speaking of the current exchange rate… It’s a good thing we spent 3 months living in France in the spring of 2014. After living there for so long we decided, because of the cultural unrest and the bad economy, that France would not be a good choice for our second home. (We chose Ashland, OR instead!) If we would have had our usual month-long vacation, we would have not had sufficient information to really decide if France was for us. With insufficient information and with the current exchange rate we would have been tempted to buy a place in France and that would have been a bad decision. So our 3 month-long adventure in France was a very good idea!