We left Austin on Wednesday afternoon, flying on
American Airlines to Chicago. After we had boarded the plane for Paris,
they found a problem with the landing gear door and we had to get back
off and wait about 2 hours for another plane to be made ready. We then
left Chicago for Paris at 7PM and arrived in Paris about 10:30 AM on Thursday.
We rented a car and drove to Melun, just south of Paris, where we visited
the Vaux Le Vicomte castle and stayed the night in a nearby hotel. Phil
got a chance to practice his manual transmission skills and killed the
engine a few times as we neared Melun. After that, Sherrie helped remind
him to shift into first gear upon entering a round-about. And we came across
those crazy round-abouts (traffic circles as major intersections) just
On Friday we drove through eastern France (Beaune,
Besancon, Mulhouse, Basel) and into Switzerland. This was a long but pleasant
drive. The French countryside was generally rolling pastureland. We did
not see many vineyards. The toll roads were expensive, maybe $20 a day,
but very fast at 130 km/hr (80mi/hr). The car used diesel fuel (gasoil)
that cost about 5.50FF to 5.85FF per liter, and usually required about
20-30 liters per busy day. We found the money exchange rate to be about
7.2FF per dollar. As we entered Switzerland, we encountered several tunnels
that we had to drive through, and actually seemed to drive under most of
Exchange Rate – About 6.9FF to 7.4FF per dollar
Car – Hertz (May 31-June 8)
Hotel Ibis Melun – Melun, France (May 31)
We stayed in the small village of Alpnachstad just
south of Lucerne. The hotel was just 3 minutes walking from the station
for the cog train that goes to the top of Mount Pilatus.
Saturday morning we took this train to the top of the mountain, and came
down on the other side of the mountain using the gondola and cable cars,
and a bus, to
get into Luzern. It was very cold at the top of the mountain.
After walking around downtown Luzerne, looking at shops and viewing Thorwaldsen’s
Lion, it began to rain. We went inside a mall to get some lunch, shopped
a bit more, and then took the 16:10 local train back out to our hotel in
We ate a nice supper at the hotel.
Exchange Rate – About 1.7SF per dollar
Hotel Roessli – Alpnachstad, Switzerland (June 1-2)
Drive from Switzerland to Normandy
On Sunday we left Luzerne and drove through Interlaken,
Bern, Neuchatel, and back across the Alps at la Chaux-de-Fonds and LeLocle,
into France at Morteau. There were many tunnels on this drive, with an
especially 3-mile long one near Interlaken. We drove through Beaune and
Auxerre again, and followed N60 to Montargis where we thought we would
stop for the night. However, due to a music festival going on, no rooms
were available, so we drove on to Orleans in central France where we found
a hotel to stay overnight.
On Monday we drove on to Mont Saint Michel, and
ended up in Saint Lo for the night. There were traffic jams that made this
trip much longer than expected, and Phil got a chance to practice his uphill
starts and stops with the clutch/brake/accelerator. We decided to eat at
the nearby McDonald’s as a quick way to find some food we recognized and
the boys would really like.
Hotel Ibis Orleans Nord Saran – Saran, France –
At St. Lo on Tuesday we had a big breakfast, especially
enjoyable by Joe, and set out to visit various Normandy and D-Day sites.
Because Tuesday was June 5, the day before D-Day celebrations, we found
much preparation underway for the Wednesday programs. They had erected
large tents and prepared many chairs for an invited crowd of guests on
Wednesday at 3:30 PM. It rained Tuesday evening after we returned to the
hotel in St. Lo for a second night. We could not find much of anything
good to eat in the hotel restaurant.
On Wednesday we left St. Lo and headed out to see
some more of the Normandy coast. Our first stop along the Gold Beach at
Arromaches was so crowded with veterans on this June 6 celebration of D-Day
that we decided to keep moving on east. We followed Route 514 along the
coast until we reached the museum at St. Laurent sur Mer and finally the
Grand Bunker at Ouistreham. We purchased some bread and meat for lunch
at the Intermarche and washed all our dirty clothes at the Laundromat at
Benouville before heading on towards Caen. After driving around for hours
along the north and east part of Caen looking for our hotel, we finally
located it not far from where we had been looking. It was quite frustrating
taking so long to find the hotel. After getting our rooms arranged, we
drove into the center of Caen and walked around the old castle located
there. We were glad to be able to find our hotel again.
Hotel Ibis La Chevalerie – St. Lo, France (June
Hotel Etap Caen Mondeville – Caen, France (June
Drive from Normandy to Paris
We left Caen on Thursday morning and headed straight
to Paris so that we could navigate the traffic around Paris during midday
rather than at rush hour. The 3 hour trip went well and we collected most
everything (I forgot my computer locking cable key) from the car and hopped
on the train from the CDG airport into Paris to the Gare du Nord station.
There we switched to a Metro line and made our way to the Grand Boulevards
station where we finally surfaced and walked about three blocks to our
hotel. Of course, things were not as they were supposed to be at the hotel,
but managed to make adjustments and settled into our rooms.
We quickly headed out to the Metro for a visit to
the top of the Eiffel tower and tour the museum there.It began to rain
quite hard as we left the Eiffel tower and we hurried back to the hotel.
As the storm calmed down, we again headed out to find somewhere to eat,
and chose a small pizza place just up the street. We stayed at the same
hotel for four nights.
On Friday we first visited the Musee du Louvre.
A full visit would take days, but we hit the high spots before growing
tired of seeing paintings and sculptures. They have a CD you can buy.
Later we visited Notre Dame, walked past some places we had visited
on earlier trips, and finally walked up to the Pompidou center, where we
were unable to ride the hamster tubes without paying full admission price.
We decided it was not worth the cost. We looked around and headed back
to the hotel. A pickpocket tried to grab Phil’s wallet at the Rambuteau
Metro turnstile, but luckily was unsuccessful. We were even more careful
after that. After resting a bit, we did some shopping and ate supper at
a little restaurant nearby where the waiter was funny and made us choose
lemonade rather than the Cokes we had been promised. The steak and lasagna
On Saturday we headed straight to Versailles to
visit the chateau and grounds there. After walking through the public areas
and hall of mirrors, we ate lunch at McDonalds and reentered the Versailles
grounds for a guided tour of the private chambers. When through we headed
back to the hotel. We did a little shopping and ate at the same pizza place
as Thursday evening.
On Sunday we took the Metro to the Roosevelt stop
and walked up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe where we paid to
climb the steps all the way to the top. After coming back down, we continued
to shop along the Champs Elysees, especially in the famous Sephora perfume
shop where Joe and Tim complained that their coats would be ruined with
the smell. We ate a late lunch and dropped the boys off at the hotel before
Sherrie and Phil looked at a few more shops near the hotel. Most of the
stores were closed on Sunday, however. We later purchased a few sweets
and shared those back at the hotel. Then we began packing and getting everything
in order to leave
early Monday morning.
Hotel Mecure Paris Monty – Paris, France (June 7-8-9-10) Pictures DSCF1090-1246
Return from Paris to Austin
We got up at 6:30AM on Monday and headed for the
airport. After a couple of short Metro rides and a 35-minute train ride,
we were on our way home.