To ensure that we could get a six passenger taxi, I had telephoned and booked it 2 days in advance. It was scheduled to arrive and 3:45 a.m. and when it didn't arrive, I phoned to check if there was a problem. I was informed that they had no knowledge of my reservation and no taxi available. As I knew that no other local taxi companies had a six passenger taxi and there wasn't time to call and wait for two regular taxis as time was running out, I hurried the family into our car and sped off into the city centre to meet the bus and relucantly leave the car unattended for a few days. Adjacent to the bus stop is a large hotel and multi-storey car park. At that time of night the entry barrier was permanently open and so I left the family and luggage at the bus stop and drove to the top storey, parked near the private entrance to the hotel near the security cameras and jogged down 6 levels so as not to miss the bus. By 4:15 a.m the bus had still not arrived so I used my mobile phone to call the free help line with the company we booked the holiday with. I didn't expect an answer at that time of night but not only was there someone in the office but they knew our bus was running late and told me that it would arrive in 15 minutes. We boarded the bus at 4:30 a.m. and set off on our boring bus journey to the south coast of England stopping to pickup extra passengers at pre-arranged locations plus breakfast and lunch stops.
My breakfast was a large plate full of fried eggs, bacon, button mushrooms, tomatoes, sausage, hash browns and fried bread. Not the healthiest choice but we were very hungry after our early start and the choice in the motorway service area wasn't very large. We decided to get into French-mode for lunch so at the next stop we had sandwiches made from bagettes with brie and salad fillings with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and orange juice for the kids. It was late afternoon when the bus boarded the ferry in Dover and arrived in the French port of Calais about an hour and a half later with the coast of England still visible behind us.
Hooray! we're in France. The bus set off for Paris stopping halfway at a service station on the autoroute for dinner. I wasn't expecting a very high standard of cusine but was pleasantly surprised by the Pasta Nicocois I chose and my first French coffee of the trip was encouraging. Already my French vocabulary was being stretched. I have no difficulty with the basics but not knowing the correct word for something means I have to describe it's function/location. This meant I was having to speak in paragraphs rather than sentances. Happily everyone I spoke to understood and appeared to find my accent charming rather than irritating. Either that or they were simply nodding and smiling with bewilderment hoping that I'd just hand over some Euros and go away.
We arrived at our hotel in Versailles which is south of Paris and just outside the Bouvelard Peripherique (ring road) at 9pm. We had two adjacent rooms - me and the older 2 boys in one and my wife and the younger two in the other. The rooms were very modern and comfortable with bath/shower, telephone, refridgerator, and satelite TV. The boys listened to some French music radio channel for a while before settling down to sleep. Considering I'd dragged them out of bed at 3:15 a.m. they'd been extremely well behaved so I decided to practice my French some more by arranging for room service to deliver their breakfasts to our room the next morning in advance of our full day in Paris the next day. I finally fell asleep sometime after 11 p.m. after being awake for 20 of the previous 24 hours.
originally a starblvd post by llizard, Apr/19/2004 14:34:20 [-05 EST]
The first part sounds like a nightmare but the rest is most promising. I look forward to the next installment.
: [...] with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and orange juice for the kids. [...]
I hope that was a very large glass of Sauvignon Blanc and orange juice for the kids to share. (good idea to lace the wine with orange so they got their vitamin C)
originally a starblvd post by CAM, Apr/19/2004 23:26:00 [-05 EST]
This sounds excellent. At relevant points in time, you will have to give some approximate ages of the four boys so that we can get the full flavour of the family holiday...
I think it's safe to say they were charmed rather than irritated. I have found that in France it is never very hard to tell!David wrote:Happily everyone I spoke to understood and appeared to find my accent charming rather than irritating...