Another catch up on my travels over the last year, specifically my trip to France. In a previously article, I explained how just before this trip, I had returned from Australia. Many people asked why I didn’t just fly to France from Australia, and there is a simple answer to that question, one was for personal travel one was for work.
Australia was planned many months in advance, the flight was booked, the hotels secured. Then work came to me with only a month or two notice and sent me to France. Where I work, I have no control over the flights other than to provide suggestions. Also keep in mind that you get huge penalties for cancelling flights, so it is rarely worth it to cancel a flight in favor of another one.
After returning from Australia, I had very little time to prepare for France. Landing late at night, I went to bed for only a few hours before getting back up, doing laundry, and repacking quickly before boarding to Paris.
The flight was good, a nice US Airways A330 aircraft from PHL directly to Paris. The customs in Paris was about the easiest to pass through that I had ever encountered. Paris is nice in that many people speak English, so it isn’t terribly difficult to get around for me. I will make this concession though, my language learning in the past did help on this trip. While I may not be conversational in French, I was actually very surprised at how well I could read French. Using some powers of deduction combined with 3 years of language all the way back in high school, did help prepare me significantly for France… I suspect Korea will be a fair sight more difficult for me in the language department.
There is a TGV station right in the Paris Airport, which after a 2 hour layover, we boarded for Aix. It was a bit odd, as around Paris, they seconded all announcements with an announcement in English. This randomly stopped in the countryside of France someplace… I was never sure if I was in the correct spot or not. This was even more difficult on the way back...but I ended up in the right spot when everything was said and finished, no mistakes.
Once we ended in Aix after a bus ride from the train station, I was so tired from the trip from Australia, that I fell asleep and awoke only briefly to consider food, and then ignored it and slept more until the next morning. Aix was a beautiful little town, but I didn’t get to explore it much since I was working all day and not back until late every night. We ate at a few burger places in Aix where there was some really amazing food.
After my stay in Aix, I boarded the train back to Paris. Another long train ride to Paris where I almost got off at the wrong place again due to my complete inability to understand French in the spoken form… weird how that works that I can read but completely not understand a word they said.
On my business trip, I had opted to stay one extra day at my expense to look around Paris. Let me say, Paris in a day is difficult to pull off. The subway took me to Notre Dame where I started my walk. First off I walked the wrong way, still fun, got to explore a mile or so of France I hadn’t expected. Then I turned around and went to correct way following the Seine river up to the Louvre. Go here, a million times over, go to the Louvre… just amazing. I maybe saw 10% of the museum in the 1-2 hours I had there and then I had to move on. The rest of the day was spent walking up the Seine past many sights where I stopped and took pictures and admired the scenery. Was swindled by a beggar… when in Paris… saw lots of people falling for a scam shell game. Paris being Paris, well known for pickpockets and thieves, keep any eye on your money here.
Finally I ended my walk at the Eiffel tower. What a sight to behold! It is an incredible piece of engineering and one I would really like to go back and see at night. There is so much to offer in Paris, I would go there again in a heartbeat. This was a wonderful whirlwind tour of the French capital, but what an enjoyable visit it was.