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Around the World in 210 Days

Livin la vida france

FRANCE | Saturday, 29 September 2007 | Views [1196] | Comments [7]

Well as Andrew mentioned we arrived in France with few mishaps, except getting the public transit a little mixed up.  Which…let me explain…has continued on multiple times throughout the rest of the trip.  We have been here three days and have without exception taken the wrong train at least twice each day—some days up to six times in one day.  On the happy note, it does suggest that we are getting our moneys worth out of our tickets, and we are getting to know the nice trains from the not so nice trains.  The first day we went into Paris we essentially would jump on one train go a  stop and hope it was in the right direction, and if it wasn’t, we would get off on the next stop and proceed to the other side of the platform.  The second day we thought we had the system figured out, and I think we had only taken the wrong train once, when alas, as we were deciding to go home, we didn’t realize that the words “sans arret” applied to the train we were taking and that it meant…this train will not stop at your station, you will pass go, and you will have to take another train home… 

To those who haven’t been to France, this probably seems absurd, I mean after all, if you have been to New York or DC, it seems as though Metro stations are essentially easy to manage….you would be wrong.  The French have as many Metro types of transport as they have cheese.  There are the slow and trainlike, the RER, the Train, the Tram, the subway, and all of these are mashed together in a semblance of numbers, letters, names, (which I might add are in French) and they are in train stations which are three layers deep, and more.  The trains do not have markings on them as far as we can tell, and it is pointless to ask someone on the train where it is going, (Andrew might say that is because we can’t speak French—I think its because they don’t know where the train is going either.) 

Today was a bit rainy and gloomy, so after a quick sojourn into the city (three hours or so) we decided to head home and just chill out…two hours later we arrived at our intended station…it was a long long long day. 


The grocery store, that is an experience all right.  The thing about Europe is they are more environmentally and economically friendly.  So you don’t get plastic bags at the grocery store unless you pay for them.  The cost in Ireland is 22 cents, the cost in France we are not sure about.  So this leaves you with the option of gesticulating wildly and pretending to be a bag, so that you get one, or else if you miss your opportunity, carrying three bottles, a box of milk, a candy bar, a round of cheese, a jug of water and potato chips all the way home. (Which isn’t really that far, but the picture isn’t as cool when you say it that way).  The second time we went to the grocery store, we didn’t realize that if you get fruit or vegetables, you are supposed to weigh them and put a sticker on them with the weight and price. Well we were in the front of a long line, and the cashier looks at me and says something in French…as I give a very Gaelic shrug and apologetic smile of idiocy, she just turns to the guy who works in the front of the store and asks him to go get our sticker.  I’ve noticed the look of absolute lack of comprehension works pretty well…that and pointing.


One other thing that is very amusing to me, is that the toilets (which I don’t know if Andrew has mentioned this, but they are far superior to the Irish) have two buttons labeled 1 and 2…and they are used accordingly. One produces a smaller stream than the other.


The people we are staying with, Valerie and Benoit are amazing.  Really great, they host people all the time and they seem to enjoy the conversation and provide excellent suggestions and of course laugh at our inability to find our way around.  But they are making Paris just an amazing place to visit.  Yesterday we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral (which is even more astonishing in light of when it was built), and the Musee d’ Orsay which is inside of an old train station, and possibly the most beautiful of all museums I have ever seen.  Other than that, we have generally just been getting lost on old street, and enjoying the beauty that is paris.  Different than what I expected, but really really beautiful.  I didn’t expect it to be so large, (it seems larger than New York, although I don’t know)—there is grafitti everywhere when coming into the city, but the people are nice, the cheese and bread are great, and we are having a wonderful time.  You can see how such architecture and ambience leads to a different feel of life.  

Tags: Lost!



Me thinkudths perhaps Alex and Andrew have imbibbed too freely of the grapes for which France is know prior to seeking mass transit. In other words lay off the sauce so you don't get lost.

  luther parker Hinesly Sep 29, 2007 9:43 AM


this one made me laugh outloud so i'm sure your dad thinks i'm crazy. you do know the french are not crazy about americans so i am sure the train system was built just for us. can't you find a barnes ans noble and get a guide such as "everything you want to know about paris" in english? shannon between your and andrew's lost and bewildered looks i bet the cashier knew she was up against the best,lets just hope you don't shop there very often. you do know they have the bags used for shopping that look like burlap and are used again and again, i have 2 of them given tome by friends in calif. that are into that save the world stuff, you should find 1 for your travels. i wonder what you do if you have to do both push both buttons? and i bet you two are giving your host enough material to start a tv show about crazy americans in paris.as for Notre Dame Cathedral is it much more than was protrayed in the hunch-back per disney? and yes all the grafitti is probaly telling americans which train to take but alas is probaly also in french. the architecture and ambience are also good for lost americans as it should calm the spirit and keep you from having a coronary from the multiple lost episodes. it does sound wonderful and i am glad you two are enjoying it so much, but if i were you i think i would make a dry run to the airport before time to leeave or yur stay in paris may be extended. love to you both mom

  mardi Sep 29, 2007 9:56 AM


i love this site but i trully find doing the non-spam thing to be trying, you don' know if its an 8 or 6 or B and some of them you can't figure out at all I really think they need to put less twist on some of them, i have had to redo it 2-3 times. shannon and andrew see if you can get this problem fixed in between catching trains mom

  mardi Sep 29, 2007 9:59 AM


ok Rrrricardo and Annie where are you 2, I keep looking but I ain't finding your comments, I know you 2 can have a field day with this one. I come here for Shannon and Andrew's view of the world but really it is for your wit and wisdom so let it out and let us know how you feel. mardi

  mardi Sep 30, 2007 2:32 AM


Oh I want to comment but I have made a vow to not post until Annie does.
That could be weeks because I bet she is bored with this whole thing already and has movedon.org.

Okay if you insist I will post a thought or two since you asked twice.
One thought I had is ofcourse a country that says OUI all the time will have an excellent toilet system.

Another thought I had was a certain son of mine has hinted that perhaps Alex a.k.a. Shannon has a poor since of direction or a lack of navigational skills and now I realize that they are getting lost with Andrew there so he cannot talk about that anymore.

I'll hush for now so they can finish yet another Big Mac in the country the word GOURMET came from.

  Rrrricardo Sep 30, 2007 3:02 AM


NOTE: when spelled correctly "since" of direction is actually SENSE of direction... but why quibble?

  Rrrricardo Sep 30, 2007 4:23 AM


Alex ! Écrire à quelque chose la femme. Votre père légalement veut lire encore plus de vos observations pleines d'esprit. Nous ne pouvons pas laisser Annie obtenir désabusé avec vos beaucoup de niveaux de fraîcheur ! ...and stuff.

P.S. I notice you aren't posting tons of action shots of yourself shannon dawn alex et al.
Get with it.
Also with all those pics of Andrew I think you need to get him on a Parisian runway.
He has all the Zoolander looks mastered (Blue Steel, Magnum, etc.) and a couple of new ones like Chillaxin' and Happy Camper.

  Rrrricardo Oct 2, 2007 6:37 AM

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