Not a Trip Report - France

Old Oct 7th, 2012, 12:28 PM
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Even though I have lived in France nearly forever now, I could have been confused by a sign saying "gazole non routier" as well, although if it had said "engins non routiers" I would have understood -- "fuel not for road vehicles".

I read that even though Great Britain invented the roundabout, France is the world champion with 4 times more of them than anybody else. I also read that in some US states that had installed a few, most of them were removed because the drivers absolutely do not understand them. They need a 4-way stop!
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Old Oct 7th, 2012, 01:16 PM
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Some roundabouts in the States are unclear on the concept. The city of Berkeley installed them on residential streets to slow down traffic, but kept the stop signs.
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Old Oct 7th, 2012, 01:54 PM
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Sigh..
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Old Oct 7th, 2012, 02:32 PM
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Only 35 kms or so to go now, but we’ve been on the road about 7 hours, and it’s getting dark and runningtab is tired, and I’m more than a little crispy, especially knowing that it’s going to be up to me to navigate through La Rochelle to the studio apartment we’ve booked. I don’t know La Rochelle all that well, though I have a mental picture of the layout of it and where our apartment is in relation to things that I DO know, like the Vieux Port. All I’ve done in the way of prep work is to look at a map of the city and note that the apartment seems to be right next door to the Centre Hospitalier, which I assume will be easy to locate. I haven’t been able to find a map that has the name of the street the apartment is on, though I was able to find the main street that it’s off… And I certainly wasn’t counting on arriving in the dark. But as is always the case, we have NO choice but to make this work – to find our way. So we approach the city in darkness. The main road we’re on heading to the city center is big and busy and incredibly dark; there are no streetlamps at all, just the twinkling of headlights and brake lights at eye level.

We find an exit to the centre ville, and are dumped into more dark streets and traffic. I am looking for signs to something recognizable. Yes, if we’d had GPS this might not have been an issue, but I am a natural-born navigator and don’t like those gismos. And, apart from the fact that in this case we’re tired and stressed and runningtab has clutch foot, finding one’s way to a new place is an adventure, for me.

After twisting and turning around countless times I lose all sense of direction. But then I see a sign for the Centre Hospitalier…joy! The apartment building is right next to it; this should be easy! But when we reach it, it’s just an enormous building on a busy avenue – no evidence of side streets, no evidence of an apartment building, just an emergency entrance and a parking lot. So we continue, and before long we’re in a huge square that’s all lit up, full of people and cafés and a bunch of bicyclists whom we stop and ask for directions (to the street that I do know the name of), and they point us back toward where we came.

When we get back near the Centre Hospitalier, we spy a tacky Asian restaurant, the only thing in sight that’s open, so we go in there to inquire. Runningtab notes that this is probably not going to turn out well, and of course no one’s ever heard of the street we’re looking for, but they THINK we just go through that traffic light there and turn left. Nope. So we continue to the train station, as I’m beginning to get my bearings and actually know where that is, thinking there must be someone who can find this little street for us, and sure enough, runningtab comes out with directions that take us the few blocks back to near the Asian restaurant…right before the bridge make a right, then a left…and we’re there, on what really isn’t a street, just an alleyway. And yes, it's sort of "next to" the Centre Hospitalier; the front of the apartment building is across the street from the hospital's trash area, way in back of the building itself.

Now, as I’ve mentioned, we were trying to do this trip on a bit of a shoestring, so no nice hotels for us this time. I did some research and came up with the idea of an inexpensive (79 euros a night) apartment not far from the center of La Rochelle. I liked the idea of an apartment where we could cook for ourselves, among other things, and not have to go out to eat all the time (and goodness knows, we still had a cooler of goodies from the Dordogne when we arrived there). So I booked three nights in a studio apartment at AppartCity La Rochelle (http://en.appartcity.com/en/s06_resi...p?residence=13.

At first glance, driving down the alleyway that leads to it, the building’s a bit frumpy looking, but heck, there’s a bed and warm shower awaiting us! Runningtab goes in to make sure we’re not about to make some huge error here, and comes back out saying the lobby looks fine, but the door is locked and after 9 you need a code to get in. This really is one of those days that just keep chipping away at you with challenges. Fortunately, I’ve got the help number to call, so I dial it, and a very nice man answers immediately, confirms my reservation, gives me the code to get in the front door, tells me once in to look to the left where I’ll see a wooden box, and gives me the code to get into the box. We will find an envelope with our names on it inside, and the key to the apartment will be inside. And…it works!

Runningtab gets the luggage from the car while I look for an elevator. There is none, and our studio is on the second floor, up a steep flight. Another challenge. I haven’t walked up steps, other than a curb or two, in 7 weeks, and I’m not so sure I want to butt-bump my way up a staircase in an apartment building. So I hand my crutches to runningtab, and here goes…it takes some time, but eventually I’m on the landing and we’re in front of our home for the next three days.

The place is fine, if a bit quirky (I wouldn’t recommend it on Fodors, but it worked for us and we spent little time there anyway). The bed is a sofa bed that’s already been opened up and made up, but it’s been made up vertically although the two adjoining mattresses are horizontal. Reminds me of short-sheeting at summer camp. Is it a joke? Of course we have to dissemble the bedding and put it back on properly if we’re going to sleep there. It has a refrigerator, a small dining table, glasses, dishes, coffee cups, tea kettle, coffee maker, a two-burner stove, a microwave, a desk, a small armoire, a TV, mirrors, extra blankets and pillows, and a nice bathroom. All fine, if a tad worn. We can open the windows, too, which is nice in the evenings.

It’s late and we’re tired and hungry, so all we manage to do tonight, after re-doing the bed, is unpack, take showers, and have another picnic meal. Tomorrow we’ll burn down the town.
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Old Oct 7th, 2012, 04:32 PM
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Still following along. Tonight I feel your pain, and hope you slept well! More, please.
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Old Oct 8th, 2012, 12:50 PM
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Such a day. Can't wait for more.
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Old Oct 8th, 2012, 07:34 PM
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So good to hear from you, George! Thank you, and thanks for the many-yeaars-ago help with my antique circular chandelier in the living room. You can't imagine how the place has evolved since then, but thank you for confirming that it is a magical place. It is.I can't imagine selling it I(and it's not going to happen...read on).

Thanks, kerouac, for that reality check. I thought I was having a French moment where I didn't get something.

More tomorrow, too tired tonight.
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Old Oct 9th, 2012, 07:01 AM
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Correction: at first, we didn’t know that the apparent double bed was two singles. The pillows were propped against the wall, as you’d expect, so we gratefully inserted ourselves under the top sheet and promptly passed out cold. I dreamed of a world controlled by angry grapes, tired of being stepped on and bent on revenge.

Waking up on the floor some hours later, in darkness and amid much confused flailing of sheets, we realized that ours was no double bed. It was two singles, side by side, but parallel to the wall, not perpendicular, as the pillows ans sheets positioning had suggested. So as we slept, we gradually drove the beds apart, until we sank between them to the floor. This clever housekeeper’s blague became clear after we hauled ourselves out of the tangle. There was a moment when one could have been angry, but given the trajectory of the entire day, this just struck us as hilarious. We laughed ourselves silly, had a glass of wine, remade the bed(s) and slept the rest of the night.
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Old Oct 9th, 2012, 07:04 AM
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A lot of the double beds in some of the chain hotels (Ibis, Campanile) are actually twin beds pushed together, which can always create problems with turbulent sleepers, especially if they invade their companion's territory.
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Old Oct 9th, 2012, 07:26 AM
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"<i>A lot of the double beds in some of the chain hotels (Ibis, Campanile) are actually twin beds pushed together, . . . </i>"

Sure- but what runningtab describes is the two beds pushed together, but instead of the pillows/'head' of the bed being at the end of the twins (as I've seen many many times) - the pillows were placed along the side of the bed. (runningtab -is that what you meant?)

In other words - your heads were along the side of the bed and you were laying across both beds. With your bums in the crack so to speak

Very weird . . .
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Old Oct 9th, 2012, 08:21 AM
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Perhaps the person who made the bed was a dwarf.
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Old Oct 9th, 2012, 10:21 AM
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Janis, that’s exactly it. We woke up with grounded bums, wedged between beds, legs still on one, head/shoulders on the other behind us. We were U-shaped. Add that we were covered by sheets, in the dark – a rather challenging situation to deconstruct. “OK, let’s backtrack. We went to bed, check. We fell asleep, check. But now we’re on the floor … huh? Covered by sheets, with our legs in the air? WTF??? Something doesn’t immediately add up here …”

Happily, as noted, we laser-focused our acute, analytical minds on the situation and figured it all out. We won’t be fooled again (but might want to keep the thought of a pretty good prank in mind….)
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Old Oct 11th, 2012, 05:51 AM
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Great report that's not a report! I really should get out of the lounge more often.
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Old Oct 11th, 2012, 07:08 AM
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Continue to be loving this not a TR!
runningtab & StCirq - looking forward to seeing you & hearing more details at the GTG Saturday.
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Old Oct 11th, 2012, 11:09 AM
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As per Kerouac upthread...

"I also read that in some US states that had installed a few, most of them were removed because the drivers absolutely do not understand them. They need a 4-way stop!"

Or not. Roundabouts hugely successful here in Atlanta in the congested area near Emory University. Even the non-local drivers (and there are many, as there's a large hospital and cancer center on campus that draws patients from areas that don't even have traffic lights) seem to have no problem dealing with them, and traffic moves quickly and smoothly.
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Old Oct 11th, 2012, 11:31 AM
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That is good news indeed.
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Old Oct 11th, 2012, 11:44 AM
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DC, designed by L'Enfant, has many traffic circles which work fine. I hear that out of towners often have trouble with them, but locals tend to take them in stride.
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Old Oct 11th, 2012, 12:17 PM
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While we're waiting for StCirq to reload, I found this interesting information about roundabouts: http://www.frcog.org/pubs/transporta..._FAQ_FINAL.pdf
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Old Oct 11th, 2012, 12:24 PM
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Will try to do more tonight, but between the Nats game and the debate, it may be late.
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Old Oct 11th, 2012, 03:30 PM
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Great reports, StCirq. Looking forward to more, esepcially as we plan our next trip - Paris and area in January.

Hope to run into you at Dupont Circle one of these days, where we are moving inch by inch as we semi-retire - literally seconds from Metro.

BTW, thrilling Nats game tonight as they won in 9th and proceed to Game Five!!!!!
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