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Trip Report Springtime in Paris and Provence – April 2015

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One of my daughters has become obsessed with running marathons and last summer, she (along with several members of her running group) decided to try to get in to the Paris Marathon in April. Unbelievably they all received bib numbers so they started making all the necessary arrangements. At a family gathering shortly after they found out they had made it in to the race, it was decided five of us needed to go along and cheer for her – hey, any excuse to go to Paris, right??

So we booked a tiny apartment (6th floor with a lift - it had a partial Eiffel Tower view from the loft skylight and from our bedroom window) near Place Victor Hugo in the 16th arrondissement for April 4th through the 14th. Our daughter chose this area because it was hopefully within easy walking distance of the marathon’s start/finish lines and because her running group was staying at a nearby hotel. My wife and I decided to extend for 5 days in Provence after the kids went home. The kids booked relatively cheap flights from ATL in and out of CDG on US Airways with a connection in Philadelphia each way. My wife and I booked our flights (direct in to CDG then out of MRS to ATL with a connection at CDG) and a hotel in Saint Remy (Hotel Sous les figuiers). We also bought/printed 1st class TGV tickets (45€ each) from Gare Lyon to Avignon and reserved a rental car at Europcar through AutoEurope to pick up at the TGV station in Avignon.

This was the 8th trip my wife and I had taken to Europe (3rd to France) and it was going to be a LOT different than our usual style – we were going to try to be frugal – something we are not used to while we are on vacation. The apartment the six of us (2 kids, 2 grandkids plus the two of us) were going to stay in was a 2 bedroom plus pullout sofa/1 bath for only 150€ per day through airbnb. The deposit was only one night’s cost with the balance payable in cash upon arrival. I can’t believe I had willingly agreed to stay in a one bath apartment with 5 women – I only hoped Paris would not run out of red wine while we were there. I also could not believe I had agreed to stay in an airbnb apartment with virtually no online reviews and nothing in writing except a string of emails. What was I thinking???? When asked before our trip what her goals for the trip were, my wife said she only hoped we would not all hate each other after the 10 days.

The good news is we had an absolutely incredible time. And for all but the first day the weather was simply gorgeous – better than we have had on either of our two previous trips that were in June. Even though it was our 3rd trip to Paris, my wife and I did a lot of new things as well as a lot of the usual touristy things. We really liked the neighborhood we were in and as my daughter hoped, it really was very convenient for getting to and from the marathon start/finish. There was a little grocery store, a pastry shop, several decent restaurants and a couple of metro stops very close to the apartment.

The kitchen and dining table/chairs were fine but the couch and the queen bed were not comfortable at all. The second bedroom was a loft area reached by climbing some crazy stair system built in to the side of a cubby hole/bookcase thing. You could not stand up in the loft (mattress was on the floor) but it worked fine for some of our younger family members. I only ventured up there one time. We kept telling ourselves how Parisian we felt. Honestly the entire apartment was not much bigger than our master bathroom area at home. That just could be one of the craziest (for several reasons and on several different levels) statements I have ever been able to make.

We somehow figured out a bathroom rotation routine and only having one bathroom was not an issue (other than the fact the toilet was squeezed in between the sink cabinet and the glass shower partition in the bathtub - you were pretty much wedged in once seated). We joked we might need and an extraction team for me – it was a TIGHT fit. And the ring would just about fit a tiny 5 year old butt. It’s amazing what one can tolerate if given enough red wine. Enough about the bathroom - sorry if that is TMI.

Another thing different about this trip was the fact I did not write one thing in my journal. I usually keep up pretty well even if I have to catch up a couple of days later but somehow on this trip it didn’t happen. We were on the go every day from early to late and the lack of comfortable seating in our apartment didn’t help. I really like to have a journal so I’ll have to look at pictures and talk to my family to try to fill it in. Once I do that I hope to add a little more here.

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