Day 2 — July 2, 1996 (Tuesday)
02.07.1996 - 03.07.1996
The following entries are my Journal of our very first trip to Europe which was nearly completely in France. I spoke some Haitian Creole and my husband had taken French in high school many years ago so we were anticipating language problems. We were not rich so took our tent and camping supplies and planned to do mostly camping. It was exciting and a little scary, but this was before 911 and life was more relaxed. Try packing an axe with your camping supplies today . . . The first trip was addictive and we've returned many times and learned a lot.
July 2, 1996
Well, the plane left late and arrived early. We actually got some sleep on the flight — not much. We were bussed from the plane to the airport. Orly is a typical airport! All our luggage arrived, but the black duffle bag with the camping equipment was the last thing off the plane. By the time we got to Customs, no one was there, so we walked on through.
It was a wait, but we got our leased car, a Miami blue Peugeot, and were delighted to discover it has air conditioning. We stopped at a gas station to fill up, and headed for Paris with excellent directions from the Brit who leased us the car. We found the hotel after circling two or three times, and as Ed’s luck would have it, also found the only parking place in Paris. We checked in — second floor (called first floor in France) on the street with a window box. (Hotel Veronese which is now Hôtel Kyriad Paris 13 - Italie Gobelins) [We also learned not to get our car when we arrived in Paris. Parking is expensive and you don't need a car in town. Now we visit Paris and then get the car for the rest of our trip.]
We looked for a parking garage that was marked on our map, but it didn’t exist. The hotel lady said to leave the car on the street, so we did. Ate lunch at a little café around the corner — served on a baguette! — then walked . . . . and walked . . . . all the way to Notre Dame. On the way, we wandered through the Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden, and also along the Seine through an outdoor sculpture garden — marred by a lot of graffiti! (We tried to pay for lunch with our MasterCard and after much confusion, a British customer explained the café had just changed hands and the new owner didn’t have authorization for MasterCard yet so Ed used francs that we had gotten before we left home.)
Notre Dame was spectacular — the first sighting along the Seine was really heart stopping. We walked past all the book stalls on the left bank and over to the cathedral where I took beaucoup photos. We entered along with a thousand other tourists. Even with tourists it is amazing, but it would be an incredible feeling to be alone, or nearly so, in it. They requested silence, but people were talking and popping flash bulbs. The square outside is a circus, and unfortunately there is scaffolding all over the upper front outside.
We walked back to our hotel, stopping at the Supermarché for Evian. They have an escalator ramp so you can wheel your “chariot” upstairs. We decided chariot was a much better name than shopping cart — conveys a feeling of romance to grocery shopping!
[Photos from this trip were taken before digital cameras so have been scanned or were on a Seattle Film Works disk if you remember those old 3.5-inch hard disks on the early computers.]