Day 31 — July 31, 1996 (Wednesday)
31.07.1996 - 01.08.1996
Repacked last night and threw away a few things. Our suitcases are crammed. Ate breakfast, stuffed the car and headed for Orly. Only one wrong turn and we arrived. Orly is a zoo — crowded, dirty, disorganized. Because of the Olympic bombing, security is almost scary . . . French soldiers walking all over the terminal with big guns. Better safe than sorry, I guess . . .
Checked in the car and put our luggage on a chariot. We fought (literally) our way to Continental Airlines Security only to be told we couldn’t check in until 10:00 A.M. (When we confirmed, we were told to arrive early as our flight was seriously overbooked. This was in English so I know we did not misunderstand.)
Sat on the cement floor until 10:00 and checked through security and baggage. Then we walked back out into the terminal to go to Customs — they forgot to mention that. Our flight gate wasn’t posted yet, so we got in a line through another security. When we got up to the security, we were sent back to Customs. It was a major mess; had no idea where to go and all of a sudden a cheerful voice said, “Hi. Are you leaving too?” It was a woman from New York who stayed at our hotel and had spoken to us at breakfast yesterday. We followed her and zipped through Customs. At her suggestion we even managed to get a cute little stamp in our passports. You have to ask for it.
Still no gates posted, so we went up one more flight where there are chairs and, wonderfully, chaise longues where you can actually sleep. We wait!
P.S. We finally boarded our flight, took off without incident and suffered through the long trip back to Los Angeles. We watched two movies, finished our books, ate a couple meals and became eternally tired of sitting. It is a very long flight indeed. Jean met us at Los Angeles and, despite dire warnings of heightened security because of the Atlanta bombing, we had no trouble getting our luggage, getting through Customs and getting out of the airport.
[I didn't take any photos on that last trip to the airport so these were taken at other times. BTW, one other thing we learned, but not until we had made one more trip to Paris, was to NOT rent the car while in Paris. After the second trip, we decided it was a waste to pay for the car and pay for parking when we were using public transportation. Now we go into Paris for a few days and enjoy the city. When we're ready to leave, we return to the airport, pick up the car and set off on our adventure. Much easier.]
If you would like to read some of the things we've learned about traveling in France (and Europe) over the years, go to my blog Questions About France where I have listed some of the information we've found. Click here: Questions about France