Conduite de la mademoiselle Kelley

Well, I’m a bit behind everyone on blog entries, so here we go…

Haircut — successful. The next day I had a clerk from Le Bon Marche come up to me spouting French. When I went, “Uh…pardon?”, he immediately flipped to Anglais. I’ve since determined that “looking French” really equates to not wearing a cell phone on your hip and a camera around your neck. (I’ve had a few, similar, situations since). Like I said, I’m a bit behind.

I will say that our practice of starting “conversations” en Francais gets most tasks accomplished. The French person on the other end will either say “non comprende” or flip to English. Even when we say “bonjour”, the other party knows we’re American due to our accent. I look forward to the day, if ever, that I can detect an accent in French like I can detect an American from Pittsburgh, Boston, or the south.

Yesterday, I had my first French driving experience — not as bad as I thought. We rented a car a drove to the coast, about 3 hours away (see Lizzie’s post on Monet’s garden). We rented a car from Charles De Gaulle for 24 hours – 7am to 7am. I actually picked it up around 8:30 and got to the house 3o minutes later. Returning the car was another matter altogether. Here’s synopsis:

  • Left home at 9:30pm. Drove to a gas station around the corner to return the car with a full tank. Neither my American nor my French credit card worked; the station would not accept cash(?). Got back in the car, figuring I’d find another station.
  • Continued on the google map directions, but missed the entrance to the Peripherique. Got completely lost. Conferred with Google Map directions, which directed me to take a bus-only lane and told me to take a left onto a road closed due to construction. Found a gas station and filled up. Twenty-five minutes later, I’m on the Peripherique.
  • Continued on the google map directions, but missed the exit to A1. Exited with the intent of turning around, but two roundabouts intervened. Got completely lost again. Google Maps was no help. Put the phone down. Found a sign to A86 (another highway), followed it, somehow got on the A1. Another 25 minutes lost.
  • Got to the airport. No rental car return signs, but I know I picked it up at Terminal 1, so proceeded there. Thankfully, the car rental return was there. Returned the car.
  • Went to the train station. My ticket wouldn’t work – it wasn’t good for that far out of Paris. A new ticket was €9,25. I had a €20 bill, a €5 bill, and about €4 in coins + my credit cards. The ticket machine doesn’t take bills or American credit cards. Thankfully, this time my French card worked. Whew!
  • Got on an RER and Metro. Got home at 1:20am. That may be the last time I drive a car in Paris.

Knowing that fact (before all the above happened), we took five (1 per Engle) celebratory laps around the Arc de Triumphe, the mother of all roundabouts — 8 lanes, no lines.

Categories: Tom's Travels | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Conduite de la mademoiselle Kelley

  1. Colleen Hartman

    I cannot even begin to imagine your frustration!!! But I smiled all the way through your blog. …sort of like that song line about “ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston,,,something, something…forever on the MTA” Hang in there!

  2. Kathie

    UGH! I remember trying to get to an airport in Germany years ago. Similar experience. Stick with walking and riding a bike for now. Did you get a bike? Glad the haircut went well. I LOVE your blog. I am totally obsessed with it! LOL Wish we could come for a visit. 🙂

  3. Colleen Hartman

    As Doc was reading this, he was laughing out loud. If this had been the two of us, one or both would be either dead or totally deranged and living in an institution! I had to read it a second time!

  4. Karen Hoffmeier

    What an interesting report. I guess when you have no choice you just have to keep trying. Glad you got the car returned. Does this mean you will not be driving us around in Paris? You will have to just give us a lot of directs on the metro. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Karen Hoffmeier

    Tom, I’m glad that was you and not me. I would have been so frustrated, but I give you credit because you always seem to keep your cool in those kinds of situations. Sounds like you had a wonderful day at the Monet Gardens and up in Normandy. Can’t wait to do some of that ourselves when we come over.

    Thanks to all of your for your continued blogs.


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