Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trip Report - France 2011 - October 9th to 11th, Back Home

We had arranged to stay two extra nights in the hotel after the end of the tour, hoping to have some time to re-visit Paris on our own.  On the 9th I got tired of sitting in the hotel room watching t.v. (Wonderful reception, lots of channels, nothing in English).

A French shopping channel

On my own, I took the Metro to the neighborhood near The Pompidou Center to visit the Doll Museum, which was charming. The young lady at the counter, ever so tactfully, asked my age, and I was able to get in at a senior rate.
Only two of hundreds of antique dolls

Back in the neighborhood of the hotel I visited the open-air market on Rue Daguerre and got Harry and I some dinner.

On the 10th Harry felt better so we took the Metro heading back to the Pompidou area. The day before I had been bragging about how easy the Metro was to use so I was dismayed when part-way there we stopped and there was an announcement in French and the train started to head back the way we had come. We got off at the next station and eventually found out that there had been a Metro accident and we would have to take a different route.

After Harry and I went to see the animated sculpture done by Niki de Sainte Phalle and Tinguely at the Stravinsky Fountain, we had lunch at Flunch and just strolled around Paris for several hours.

On the 11th, after breakfast, I took a last walk through the neighborhood and down Rue Daguerre. We had planned to take the RER back to the airport, but one of the unions was on strike so we had to take a cab. There were further problems at the airport. When it was time for our plane to leave we had to climb down stairs, get into a bus, go to the other end of the airport, and climb up stairs to get into our plane. So our trip ended, as it had begun, in confusion, but it worked out all right.

All in all it was a good trip, and I would recommend this particular Road Scholar tour to anyone who would like to get a taste of Provence and the cities along the Rhone but doesn't want to have to drive or use public transportation. The negative is that you can't spend more time at a place that really interests you, but the positive side is that you see a lot and you don't have to worry about all the details of getting from place to place.

Our guides were all great, especially the main guide, Cherifa.  The French people I met (with the exception of the lady from Laduree*) were very kind and patient. If I had to do this trip over again I would take mosquito repellent (for the Camargue) and make more of an effort to speak French, even though just about everyone I met spoke very good English after they heard my French.

*Laduree sells very good desserts, but they are very expensive.  If you like sweets you might like to try Kinder Surprise and related items like KinderJoy, which you can find in most supermarkets in Europe.

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