Pat was returning to work in Venezuela and, en route, had to spend an afternoon and night in Paris – so he suggested it might be fun if I came along with him for the night and return by myself to Ireland the next day. Is he romantic or what?! Then I found out that Aer Lingus had the flights for €0.0 each way on the days I wanted + airport taxes, of course . ( Sorry for that, football fans !) So I went ahead and booked them. The plan was to arrive and stay at the Radisson Bleu at Charles de Gaulle airport, take a bus downtown, stroll by the Seine, visit a museum, see The Pyramid, etc. etc and end up with a romantic meal at a brasserie. Oh la la !
The Aer Lingus flight was on time, but with no Business Class Pat felt somewhat squashed and I had my usual trouble getting in and out of the seats. When we disembarked we then had a half hour wait for my wheelchair to show up and get us through passport control. As we only had hand luggage Pat carried that and I got pushed to the Disability glass box, which is right next to the Airport Information Desk. I have raved on before about CdeG Airport and its rambling layout, so I ditched the wheelchair and we queued again here to be eventually told that the Radisson Bleu courtesy bus was Exit 30. Off we went, rather more slowly with me on foot only to get there and find exit 30 closed with the Radisson Bleu bus tantalisingly on the other side of the glass! Exit 29 proved to be an incoming door so wouldn’t open, so Pat made a dash for exit 28 (me following slowly) which got us outside just in time to see the bus disappearing into the distance – so another half hour wait for the next one. We eventually got to our room one and a half hours after we had landed.
Then Pat had to go online to do some work, so I looked gloomily out on to the car park and watched the day deepen into night. I rang a restaurant and booked a table for 7pm (us oldies tend to eat early !) and we eventually set off at half five by taxi to save going all the way back to the airport to get a bus or train. Bad mistake. We asked the driver to drop us off at The Pyramid, but after sitting in hellish traffic for over an hour he set us down in the Rue des Pyramids. The only trouble was there was no sign of a Pyramid and it was now totally dark and 6.40pm. All around us the traffic sat at a complete standstill and when we looked to our right we could see that a manhole in the road was spitting out flames to a height of about 20 feet , thus causing all the traffic chaos! There seemed to be roadworks around the fire so we consulted our map by the light of the flames and decided to walk to the restaurant. This plan was hampered by the maze of small streets, my ever flagging footsteps and the fact that only the names of major streets were marked on our map and you needed a torch and a magnifying glass to see anything – which we did not have. Anyway, out of the gloom emerged two charming Gendarmes and with their assistance we made it to the Brasserie Gallopin on the dot of seven o’clock.
There followed two hours of excellent food and wine and even better service, by the end of which we were in no state to attempt a bus or a train so it was another taxi back to the hotel. This one was determined to break the world speed record from central Paris to the airport. He had an interesting habit or waiting till his SatNav told him to turn left in 30 metres (he was in the far right hand lane at the time) and then swerving across 3 lanes of cars in order to make the left hand turn!
I decided the only course of action was to tighten my seatbelt and close my eyes, but we did make it back in half the time it took us to get downtown ! Pat was heard to remark that it was the first time the trip to a restaurant and back cost him more than the meal !!
I woke,complete with hangover at 8am when Pat had to leave for Caracas, so I put the ‘Do Not Disturb’ notice on the door and managed to sleep till 10am. when the Wheelchair shuttle bus took me back to the airport. There followed lots of pushing round the circular airport with long glass tunnels rising upwards with moving walkways, but I was in plenty of time to get me back to rain-soaked Cork after my romantic breakaway! Would I do it again – I don’t think so !