In the wee hours of Wednesday, May 22nd (2:00 AM to be exact) AGMA crawled into her own bed. The day started out 26 hours earlier in Paris.
But hey, I slept 3 hours on the plane to Chicago so I hadn’t entered the realm of total zombie yet.
When I booked our tickets ($392 R/T each courtesy of Scotts Cheap Flights) in February, a 9 hour layover in Chicago sounded like a good idea. We would go visit the grands for a few hours!
We did have a lovely visit, but when we touched down in Atlanta at 12:30 AM on the 22nd, AGMA was questioning her decision making competency.
But what the heck, it’s only sleep right? Plenty of time to catch up after the Grim Reaper comes to call…
France was awesome!
So AGMA’s peek-a-booing above from the Chateau Fontainebleau which is about 55 km south east of central Paris. Often called the forgotten palace because it’s sort of off of the regular tourist track, it’s the only royal residence that has housed French rulers for 8 centuries.
And it was.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Napoleon I (short dude with the big hat and an ego to match) called it home for 6 years (1808 – 1814) until he had to abdicate.
Lessons learned or that should have been learned (not necessarily by AGMA or Hubs) on our 15 day trip to France:
- If you travel with other people, make sure they are relatively easy going. K & D, our friends from Missouri, joined us on our grand tour of France. Unfortunately, they checked their luggage at their home airport on May 5th and then didn’t see it again until it was time to leave France on May 21st. Despite having no luggage for the ENTIRE TRIP, they had a lovely time.
- Never – I repeat – NEVER put your CPAP machine (or any necessary medical device or medicine) in your checked luggage. Always put it in a carry on and carry it onto the plane. Your checked luggage may decide to go on it’s own tour of the country you’re visiting and you may not see it again until you’re ready to leave.
- Because your luggage may have its own travel plans, always, always, always pack a change of clothes/underwear, basic toiletries and another pair of shoes in your backpack if you check your bag. Hubs and I already do this due to a missing suitcase in Barcelona several years back, but this trip really drove that point home.
- When trying to track down your missing luggage, be proactive. Very proactive. Trusting that the airline and the delivery company are going to do what they say they will do is a sweet notion, but not really an effective way to get your luggage back. Call the airlines several times a day to follow-up on the delivery plan.
- Always rent the smallest possible car that will fit all of your “stuff”. Because there were 4 of us plus our luggage, two overstuffed backpacks, a duffle bag, 2 regular backpacks and an electric scooter, we rented a large car which made for some interesting, let’s just call them, “situations” on the narrow streets/roads in France. Like trying to put Dolly Parton in a 32A bra.
- Unless you pay a fee to them, if you travel with other people who have done all the trip planning, arrangements, research before hand out of the goodness of their hearts, this does not mean they are your tour guide or that they are responsible for your good time. Take responsibility for doing your own research about the areas you are going to visit before hand. Please. Please. Please.
- If you are unwilling to use technology (ie, your cell phone, tablet or laptop) or travel books to research restaurants in the area that you might want to go to, don’t complain about the restaurants that others choose. And for the love of God, please understand that you will not get the same food you get at home. And when you order a coffee in France, you won’t get the same thing as when you order a coffee in the US. Thankfully.
- AirB&B’s are NOT hotels. Nobody makes your bed during the day. If you want it made, you need to do it yourself. And sometimes the pillows are a bit flat. And you have to wash the dishes you use and put them away. Kinda like you do at home.
- Not everybody in France understands or speaks English. Duh…
- You never really know anybody, I mean really know them, until you travel with them. Seriously.
You might guess that there are some stories associated with some of the points above. Well, of course there are…
But AGMA is not a tell-all kinda girl. Although I sort of did tell all, didn’t I?
For me, the sights were magnificent, the food incredible, the wine superb and the coffee just plain yummy. Our AirB&B’s were great as were our two chambers d’hôte (traditional B&B’s) and our three hotels.
We dined in a cave in the Loire Valley, saw Van Gogh projected on the walls of a quarry in Provence, visited a village destroyed by the Nazi’s in WWII that has been left untouched for over 70 years near Limoges, toured a B&B host’s vineyard in the Languedoc, ate foil gras in the Dordogne, scampered around a glacier in the Alps, sampled champagne in the winemakers home.