Tuesday was Matt’s free day, so as soon as we woke up we headed off to the station (half-hour walk) and caught the train to Paris (half-hour journey). On the train Matt asked someone the best route for the Eiffel tower. About fifteen minutes later and after much discussion amongst everyone nearby, a route was agreed, which was the one which had looked most obvious to us at our first glance at the map.
We had bought pastries to eat on the train, but it was very crowded so we saved them until we were at the Eiffel tower. We had thought about going up, but the queues were horrendous, so we just walked around it. The boys were very impressed.
A few soldiers were walking around with very large guns. Bee noticed a bit, but not much and was happy with a fairly simple explanation. Though it was difficult to get across that they needed to be there because some people might want to do bad things and they were there to protect people!
Next we crossed the river and walked along for a while. It was past lunchtime and JJ was again thirsty. I wanted to find somewhere to get him some apple juice, but we seemed to be in the wrong area for that, finding only the Paris Dorchester and Jean Paul Gautier’s shop. It was another low point as we got stressed and I insisted that Matt take us straight back home on the train. We nearly ended up getting lunch in a McCafe (McDonald’s). However, just managed to avoid this and found a cafe on the Champs Elysees, near the Arc de Triomphe. This restored us all and in much better spirits we went on to the Arc de Triomphe.
Next stop the Louvre. We didn’t go into the museum itself, but the whole area is full of interesting things and the children had a good time, both underground in the Carrousel du Louvre and above ground in Les jardins des Tuilleries. At one of the fountains children were sailing beautiful boats across. On the other side we could see the stall where they could be hired, but assuming it was quite expensive we didn’t get one and so Bee found a cigarette end to float and a little lolly stick to push it along. He loved this and carefully brought them home again afterwards, but on our way past we saw that boat hire was only 2 euros for half an hour and we felt very mean for having said no without actually checking.
We finished with an Ice Cream and then headed back down to the Metro. We found a train we thought was ours, but we weren’t quite sure. So Matt got on with the boys to ask. I was standing by the door waiting to find out when suddenly the doors closed, the train went and I was still on the platform. Another low moment, as I realised I didn’t know where I was, I had no money, no ticket, I didn’t know Matt’s mobile phone number… Although it was a relief that I had littlest with me. We hadn’t thought to make a plan for this kind of eventuality, so neither of us knew what the other would do. Should I follow Matt on the next train and assume he would wait on the next station? Should I head to Noisiel and meet there? Or should I stay where I was and wait for Matt to come back? Eventually I decided I should sit still as at least Matt knew where I was. After half an hour or so a messaage in French came over the tannoy. I couldn’t make out much of it, but I did pick out “Noisiel” and “Joostine Pairsonne”. Forgetting even the basics of grammar I rushed over to the nearest friendly lady and anounced “Je suis Justine Pearson” and asked her to explain the rest of the messaage. She kindly accompanied me to the information desk where they explained that Matt was waiting at Noisiel, made out a ticket for me and then the lady took me back to the platform and we travelled on together. Great relief to be re-united at Noisiel!
Nearly the end of the day, but not quite. It was now too late to buy supper, but we explained our situation at the hotel and they very kindly put together some plates of food left over from that evening’s BBQ, all of which was very delicious and much appreciated.
For future reference:
- Make a contingency plan before anything happens.
- All adults to carry their own tickets and money.
- J to learn M’s phone number.