16-24/12/09 (Mercredi-Jeudi) - Our Air France 747 was more than an hour late leaving Miami International, but never-the-less got to Aêroport Charles de Gaulle a few minutes earlier than scheduled. Robb and I were seated next to an Italian guy on his way to Florence for a visit with his mother and sister. He claimed to be bi and married to a Cuban-American girl.
Cloud cover was thicker than usual, but as soon as I could see the ground it appeared to be white. Taxiing to the terminal left no doubt that it was snowing in France. Everything was covered with a light dusting of the white stuff. The walk to the passport control area seemed interminable and it was quite cool until we got there. Robb had the sense to bring his leather jacket, but I was wearing only a sweater over a very light shirt. We got through passport control with no problem and began the long, long walk to the baggage claim. We were the last two people off the plane and Robb had to make a pit-stop, so we would have been the last two to pick up our bags. But when we finally arrived, we learned that the bags hadn't even begun to come out. We looked around for one of the FREE baggage carts, the same kind for which we had paid four dollars in Miami. When our bags arrived, I pulled out my leather jacket and put it on. We went out to get a taxi. It was quite cold and still snowing. The further we drove, the heavier the snowfall. Traffic was very dense and very slow. I took these pictures as we drove into the city. The first is through the windshield of the taxi. Then one along the road into the city. The next three are various scenes we passed in the city; motorcycles with cold seats, Picard (a frozen food chain - I just thought that was funny), and
the Jacques Bonsergent
métro station. And finally, the courtyard just outside the apartment. One of my readers will find it interesting that just across the courtyard is the office of an architect, who seems to be quite busy.
The owner of the apartment had arranged for a friend to meet us and give us a brief tour. He had told us she would come around 10h30, but we had barely left the airport. When we arrived at the apartment, she was there waiting and we encountered our first problem. Our French phones weren't being authorized, so we had to use our American phones to make the few calls that were necessary. Once inside the apartment, we were happy to find that it is a little bigger than it appeared in the pictures.
The area of the apartment is very convenient and just about everything we need is practically next door, including a huge Monoprix with a large grocery section. On the corner is a produce market selling all kinds of wonderful things. Just across the street from that and next to the Monoprix is the Fontaine Sully, a very nice brasserie at which we have now eaten four times. Last night, after desert, the waitress surprised us with a glass of cognac. On the other side of Monoprix is a pharmacie, and next to that is Julien de Savignac, a wine store. Another block down the street, rue Saint-Antoine, is the local branch of BNP Paribas, Robb's bank. When I click the link, I get a Google street view. If you get the same view, the light-colored double doors left of the Naturalia, is the entrance to the courtyard.
We went to Monoprix to get some staples; coffee, sugar, milk and couple of other items. We were both feeling really in need of sleep since neither of us slept on the plane, but I was near total exhaustion, so as soon as we got the things we really needed, we returned to the apartment.
Then we discovered problem number 2. The only real heat in the place is in the kitchen and the bathroom. There is a heater that barely works in the living room, and no heat at all in the bedroom. Now, during a normal winter, that might not be a problem. But it is very cold in Paris; below freezing. When we left Miami it was 27C (80F), when we got to Paris, it was -5C (23F). That's a hell of a difference in less than ten hours.
So far, this trip has been almost as bad as the last one, when I ended up in the hospital in Canada. I really thought I could adjust to the cold, and as it warms up a bit, I have. But it takes so much out of me and on those few times we went anywhere, I returned exhausted.