Saturday, November 17, 2007


I finally get to Paris, and they've gone on strike. Wretched French. Were it just me I wouldn't mind so much, but I have an Aged Parent with me, and she's not a great walker. We had thought to do Paris mainly by Metro and taxi, but with the strike, the Metro isn't running and empty taxis are nowhere to be found. We took a three mile trip from the Eiffel Tower (which was splendid) to our hotel at Gard du Nord (which was chosen for its convenience to public transportation!!) and not only did it cost us 50 euro and nearly two hours, but we ended up walking the last four blocks to boot.

We also thought of taking the hop on/hop off tour bus to get us to the sights and so gave that a whirl. Great idea in theory, lousy in practice. The "30 minutes max" buses took a good hour or more sometimes because they were caught in the same gridlock as the taxis and commuters.

Plus, the museums are closing early or are partly closed because of the strike. I went back to the Louvre specifically to do the second floor (I had done the first one the day before) and only after I bought my ticket did I discover that the second floor was closed because of the strike. No staff. The Musee d'Orsay closed two hours early so staff could get home... so I saw practically nothing, because it was late afternoon by the time we got there. I am Cross and Annoyed of course, but what can one do? C'est la vie.

I will say this, though -- the Aged Parent is a very good sport. She's got her stout boots and her cane and she's giving it her best shot. And doing all right, I might add. Slow, but steady. And the stick is a great help to us both -- I got an off-duty taxi driver to take us up by waving it at him and pleading pathetically in bad French and hand gestures. Hey, if you've got it, use it. C'est la guerre.

The trip is not a total bust, though. When we do get a taxi they take the round-about ways that are most likely to avoid the worst of the traffic, so we get a great tour of Paris' streets. We've also ducked into some fine places and sat on some swell benches in odd places so that Mother can have a rest. The Parisians are amazingly, unexpectedly, nice. My bad French is taken in good part, and they are happy to speak slowly to me in a cross of French and English ... yes, I feel like a half-wit, but I'm managing to get around all right. I can even crack jokes with the cabbies. The evening I sent mother home and stayed to see the Louvre again, I walked the two or so miles back and had a splendid jog through town -- I felt perfectly safe and rather enjoyed it. And of course with transport being as it is, I've been treated to the spectacle of grandmas on bicycles and businessmen in suits and roller blades... where else could you see such a sight? C'est la grève.

So I'm going to try to extend my stay by a few days. They say the strke will be over on Tuesday, so if I hang out a few more days I may get to see some of the more outlying parts of the city. Wish me luck -- can't get hold of the airline, since the office is closed until Monday. Probably, like everything else, due to the strike.


Blogger nzm said...

Quel dommage - still, don't let the strike do you in - enjoy Paris.

I thought that you'd dropped off the planet or that married life had consumed all your time with no time to blog.

Mind you, maybe it has, because you've had to escape to Paris to post!

C'est la guerre.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Welcome back to le blogosphere! Why not pop down to Madrid while you're in Europe?

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Luck!
Here's hoping the strike is over - a good friend of mine hands her Phd thesis in today and goes to Paris tomorrow....

4:18 PM  
Blogger MamaDuck said...

We went to Paris once, and darn near killed ourselves Doing Everything. My feet still twitch in memory. The second time, substitute four-year-old son for AP, and we too saw more detail, and happened on unsexpected pleasure. But I still haven't been to the Louvre. Haven't been to the Prado, either!

10:09 AM  
Blogger Bridget Jones said...

So sorry to hear you met with so many hardships in Bridget's favourite city in the world. Hope your next visit is more pleasant!

Just discovered your blog, and Bridget likes what she's reading so far :)

Happy New Year!

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the postcard, Honey!

7:34 PM  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Look, don't try telling us that nothing has happened in the almost 2 months since you last graced us with a fresh post. More posts please!

8:11 PM  
Blogger SNAZ said...

I landed in France in 2005 at the night before the riots, somewhat a similar situation u were in with the transport problems becoz no one would take me to my hotel at 4 roads leading to it were blocked.

3:57 AM  

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