Sunday, September 13, 2009


By Claire

September 11, 2009
Weather: Amazing; Camping International Maisons-Laffitte, €15.92
Just when we needed a break on our drive to Paris, IKEA! Looming in the distance from the highway we wondered if we could figure out how to get to our old friend. With “Suzette” frantically telling us to “turn around when possible”, we figured it out all by ourselves using two roundabouts!

After a nice cappuccino, €.85 each, headed out again and were amazed at how simple it was. A rotary is a wonderful thing when you want to go in a particular direction. We were sorry to miss the French IKEA breakfast but it was after 11, it was closed and we’d already eaten.

Saw the billboard we both thought had a cute message

Soon, the first real challenge of the day appeared – the peage (toll) booth. We made it to a correct booth and even though Chuck repeatedly pressed the button nothing happened. He even pressed the phone button which rang indifferently for some time. By now, the truck driver behind him was beeping his horn, and sputtering and yelling in French. By way of the side mirror, Chuck could see that he was gesturing to the button up high where truckers could reach it. Duh! He pressed it, the ticket popped out and we were off once again.

Somewhat relaxed, we decided to try our radio and tried “culture” (NPR?), nostalgic and Cherie. Interesting and fun.

After 4 hours and a hair-raising drive down a very narrow residential street where we performed pruning duties, we rolled into Camping International Maisons-Laffitte. I think our TomTom and Suzette were figuring on a Peugeot when they calculated the time for our trip at 3 hours.

After we were settled in, Chuck groomed Homer of all the leaves and we decided to finish our laundry.

Before we left, we had filled our new “automatic” washing machine – a plastic box with a lid – with clothes, water and detergent, and let it agitate as we drove. Once we arrived, all we had to do was rinse and hang. Our new drying racks are superb! We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing with our Kindles, Chuck reading up on Paris, me reading “My Life in France”, by Julia Child (a delight).

We took a stroll around the campground, right on the banks of the Seine, with barges meandering by.

We decided we deserved a meal out on our first night in Paris. The campground restaurant served some pretty good pizza.

We noticed quite a few Eurocamp mobile homes for rent. What a good way to stay in Paris inexpensively!

Prices range from €65/nt. for 1-4 people to €87/nt. for 1-6 people in the high season.


Camping, €15.92*
Fuel, €45.10
Toll, €21.50
IKEA cappuccinos, €1.70
Internet, €2
Dinner, €16

Total: €102.22

Running Total: 38,784.46

*This was a discounted rate from the Camping Card ACSI membership. We lucked out when Richard at BW gave us one. All member campgrounds will charge a maximum of €15, before tax.

September 12, 2009—Saturday—Sunny and warm, 75°
By Claire

We headed into Paris for another free walk put on by the same group who did it in Amsterdam: Our leader this time was Sam, from Australia, studying to be a translator and planning to live in France “forever”. She was wonderful and we enjoyed every minute of the 4 hour walk, seeing things I know we wouldn’t have on our own. Some photos from the day:

Bridge Face

Overlooking the Seine on our walking tour

Their "walk" man is skinnier than ours! Hmmmmm


It was such a perfect day, warm and sunny, we decided to do some more walking! We toured the Arc de Triomphe then decided to get something to eat. So, we took a side street away from the Champs-Elysées, Avenue Marceau, where we found a small market and bought two sandwiches and a yogurt drink. Perfect.

Walking around, we found a Toyota showroom with some fun cars on display

We wanted to take a river cruise and wanted to do it at night so even though we were pretty tired, we wanted to take advantage of the great weather. We managed to navigate our way around, only getting lost a few times, and finally found the best boat with outdoor seating, Bateaux Mouches. It left at 8 pm which allowed us to see the sunset and enjoy the city while it lit up and had a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower when it climaxed with a spectacular light show. Everything we wanted, and more. Wonderful!

At 9 pm we started the journey home. Navigating the Metro and the RER train and dealing with a couple of transfers proved to be more difficult than we could have imagined. Paris does not have the helpful Metro employees that Amsterdam does. We struggled a bit and did ask for help but I’m proud to say, it only took us 2 hours to make our way back to Homer! This was after getting on a train that branched off into another direction without our realizing it. Off we went, crossed to the other side, and back to a station with transfers. We definitely learned a lot and only hope it sticks for our next trip into the city. It’s supposed to take 20 minutes.


Lattes (2) €7
Tip for Sam, €20
Metro tickets (10 each) €23.50
Dinner, €10.70
River Cruise, €15
Orangina drink, €2.50
RER tickets, €7.40
RER ticket, €3.40*
Sprite drink, €2

Total: €91.80

Running Total: €26,655.81

*I could not get my round trip RER train ticket to work coming back and while Chuck got to the “other side” I was trapped and couldn’t get through. I had to buy another ticket.

In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language. ~ Mark Twain


Pat in Santa Cruz said...

Your Parisian adventures sound wonderful. I loved the Seine tour at night as well. Your campground is amazing!! Good driving Chuck!! So Susan has become Suzette? This should be interesting as you travel from country to country. So happy for you guys. What an adventure!!
Love, Pat

Diane said...

I can't believe you navigated the streets of Paris in Homer! Your descriptions had me laughing out loud. I feel like I'm practically on this trip with you--it's so great!

Chuck and Claire said...

We're still having fun. Suzette will be with us throughout although will probably be replaced with an appropriate Italian name.

Chuck and Claire said...

Believe me, we did not drive into Paris! We are in a campsite 20 minutes outside of Paris and take the RER train into the city. It's hard enough navigating the RER let alone driving.