The Return to France. Ready. Jet. Go No!

Caveat:  I’m writing my posts about our trip to France as they appear in my journal entries.  Also—this is a different kind of travel post about France. There are no smoke and mirrors here.  This is not the jet-set view of the Cote d’Azur.  It is MY view—and you know what that means.

I would say it’s a bit of a cross between Anthony Bourdain and…

Bourdain

Yes. No smoke and mirrors for me. My tone is a bit Anthony Bourdain–a bit rough. Well, I’m a girl–so maybe Antoinette Bourdain

Rick Steves

Steves

But my sweetness is more like Rick Steves. OK. I’m a girl–so maybe Ricola Steves. Like the cough drops!

I’m the girl version of these guys.

The Cote d’Azur Unplugged.

So grab a coffee or wine or a stiff drink and enjoy my raves, rants, complaints and tons of fun with my France 2016 visit!

Thursday, June 16, 2016.  8:30 AM.

Boarding Pass √

Carry On √

Makeup √

All Other Stuff –I Guess √

And that’s it for my big checklist. After all, I’ve been packing and repacking for about a month. And I know that I’ve still managed to over pack! (More on that in a later post…)

True to form-the rain arrived on the day of departure.  I’ve never ever left for France on a clear or sunny day.  That’s in ten years. Maybe bad weather is good luck for me.

It’s weird. I’m not excited—but I am happy. The lack of excitement is because it’ll be the first time we’ll be in France without being with Daniele. This is not the time to wax sadly about her passing or about Paris. It is the time to enjoy!

It is also the time to get dressed.  I’m flying comfortably, but not like a slob. I’ll save the slob travel look for when I return home.  Instead, I’m wearing a simple Lilly Pulitzer shift dress and on my feet I’m wearing my pink pointy-toed Gemma flats from J. Crew.  (Note. I have to say, these shoes, as pretty as they are when new; look like crap after a few wears.)

marlowe dress

This is the dress I’m wearing. Unfortunately, I look NOTHING like the fetching young lady modeling MY dress. 

My obsession with arriving early at the airport—especially for international flights, proves well.  Checking in was a breeze. We were also pre-checked at TSA so we went through security with no issues.

I’ll admit. I was a bit disappointed because I didn’t get the thrill of a pat-down from the fun folks at TSA, but perhaps they just were not interested in me! It was my goal to have to go into that little tube and get a complete check. Oh well, maybe next time!

giphy TSA pat down

Part of the thrill of flying for me is getting the pat-down! I’m such a hot mess these days that TSA couldn’t be bothered touching me!

We arrived at the gate and despite the timeliness of our arrival, all the little cubicles with the USB ports to charge your iPhone were taken up by the morons who couldn’t leave their damned cell phones for two minutes. You would think that the way these people are snuggled into these tiny spaces with their luggage and personal items, that these USB cubicles are the new homeless shelters.

Seriously. I need a charge. You would think these selfish and entitled travelers would seek out a USB port closer to their gate.  Do these idiots not realize how self-important I am???

After a complete walk around the airport and trying the outlets in over twenty empty cubicles, I now realize why everyone is at our gate. None of the outlets in this damned airport work.  Wait. I finally found one! It takes me fifteen minutes to fit the plug in without falling out. But at least I’m charged!

Airport. Philly Stinking outlet that I found after trying twenty. GOLD

BTW, this is one of the FEW operating outlets to charge your phone or tablet or what ever. It’s over by Gate 20.

Philadelphia International Airport is so kind to those who travel.  CNN is televised at each of the airport’s gate areas. Nothing like watching about all the bad things going on in the world—especially when one is getting ready to fly overseas.  Hey Wolf Blitzer.  Can you report any other news besides the horrors of what’s going on in this society?  I’m flying in a while! I don’t want to be scared!

CNN-Wolf-Blitzer-headline-2

Thanks Wolfie!  Got any other fun news for travelers?

Now I have to go to the bathroom. Ugh. Why did I drink so much water before I left? The ladies rooms at Philadelphia Int’l. are so disgusting! I feel bad for any foreigner whose first impression of our great country is the restroom at this airport! They would think all women are filthy slobs who “make” (I’m a classy broad. In my family we use the word “make” for number 1) on the toilet seat rather than in the actual toilet.  WTF?  Why can’t women who pretend to sit on  the toilet seat because they are afraid to sit their oversized asses on the seat, wipe their pee-pee drippings  when they are finished? They are so concerned about the germs of others, yet they leave their prissy little germs splattered on the toilet seat for others to enjoy!  Welcome to the filthy hygiene habits of the American woman!

Hurray for gender equality because I’m going to start using the men’s room. It’s probably cleaner!

Back at the gate and observing other travelers. (As though I’m perfect *eyeroll*) Sitting across from me is a man with shorts so baggy that I thought they were his boxers and he forgot his pants. On his feet are sandals. This shouldn’t be a problem, but his toenails are yellow and curling in at the ends. He also has toe dandruff that is visible from where I am sitting.  I pray that this man sits nowhere near me on the plane. He may be drunk because of  the way he’s babbling about the things that Wolf Blitzer is reporting.

I look away and see a woman who is also at our gate. She is going to France, the food capital of the world. And she is eating—or rather gorging, a ton of food from a Styrofoam plate. She keeps piling the food into her mouth and is talking while shoveling the food. I think she may be practicing for a food eating contest.

giphy food contest

I’m pretty sure the woman shoving food into her mouth was getting ready to compete in an eating contest with this guy!

My appetite just got lost. If only I could clone this woman and have her follow me around, I might lose some weight!

In the meantime, I’m discussing these observations with Bonaparte.

He is beaming with pride! He told me that I have officially become French because I can complain about others better than any native Frenchman or woman he has ever known.

How french are you.

Well, I’m French enough to complain about everything from the time I wake up until I go to sleep. I even DREAM complaints while sleeping!

The plane arrives.  We board. Happily, the plane is less than half-filled.  It’s going to be a great flight!Airport. All dressed in Lily. I look like a stinking mainliner.

Dressed in Lilly and taking a minute to stop complaining. OK. Maybe half a minute!

Had Air France not gone on strike, our flight would have been better because we would have been on a nicer aircraft.  We also would have received better meals. Thanks Air France. Thank you for making us have to fly American Airlines!

Airport. Philly. Our plane in the rain.

Our plane awaits us. In the rain! Again.

Dinner tonight is a choice of chicken or pasta. No way would I go with any form of meat with this airline.  The pasta is awful. The macaroni is sticky and the sauce is like glue. I don’t finish it.  The salad? I ate it dry.  Bedbugs probably taste better than this garbage. At least the bugs are chock-full of protein!

American Airlines in flight pasta meal

I’m a woman who LOVES to eat. My hips are proof–so’s my ass, but even I couldn’t finish this garbage!

The cost of a seat in economy is airway robbery and American Airlines can’t give us a meal that is composed of organic ingredients rather than the fake butter, fake salad dressing, fake cheese and a dessert that is loaded with ingredients I can’t even pronounce?

Next I decide to watch TV. One of my favorite shows, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, is on the current American Airlines view list.  I guess since it’s always raining whenever I fly, this is a good show to watch.  And it is, but thank God the plane is almost empty. I laugh so hard and loud that I wake the sleeping passengers up!

giphy Always sunny

I love everything about “It’s Always Sunny….”–especially Danny DeVito!

Sorry!  Bonne Nuit!

Friday. June 17th.7:30 AM

J’arrivee in Paris—But We Have Another Plane to Catch!

American Airlines wants passengers to think we are all the Beatles exiting the plane to crowds of waiting fans. That’s why we didn’t land at a gate. This is the second time that we’ve flown American Airlines and had this happen. We just don’t learn.

The plane disembarked on the tarmac. A set of portable steps allowed us, with carryon luggage in hands, to try to make a graceful attempt in walking down to a waiting bus.

This is what you get when you pay over $1,000.00 to fly American Airlines to Paris! You get to pretend you are John or George or Paul or Ringo!

the-beatles-wave-airplane-1964-650

The Beatles were luckier. At least THEY had someone else to handle their carry on luggage!

Note to self:  Write to American Airlines asking for a 20 percent refund check because my flight did not make it to the terminal. I had to take a bus.  

It was a bit weird to land at CDG in Paris and not get a cab to Daniele’s—but life changes and this time around, we were headed off to collect our baggage and then through the airport to the terminal to catch another plane to Nice.

Thankfully, Air France “ended” the strike. We may have had to change our flight to Paris, but our flight to Nice was still unaffected!

Also thankfully, the airport wasn’t that busy on this Friday morning.  We breezed through customs and got our luggage with no problems.

I snuck into a ladies room—which, by the way was incredibly clean.  I changed from my dress into shorts, a striped shirt and my Bass Weejuns.   I also applied deodorant. Lots of it.

Airport. CDG. Arrived. I changed from my dress into shorts and loafers.

My feet were more comfy in these shoes anyway!  You’ll later see how filthy the airlines got my cute pink suitcase!

This is just too easy.

I spoke too soon.

Let me just say that the actual staff of Air France is wonderful.  They are helpful. They are incredibly nice.  They rock their uniforms. The women all have their hair back either in severe burns, chignons or French twists. Their makeup is impeccable. And the men look just as chic!

chic air france attendants

I was hoping to ask one of the attendants to help my put my hair into a pretty French twist! Look how chic the Air France women are!

But before I continue, I have to say that the electronic kiosks are way out of date at CDG.  We had to pay for our larger luggage. No big deal. Right? Well, yeah. The kiosk we were trying to use kept rejecting our credit cards.  We were told by a staffer that the rejection of credit cards in the kiosks is a common occurrence and that the staffer at the check-in would take care of the payment.

next-gen-kiosk

These kiosks at Air France are a joke. They don’t accept American cards–that’s what the man from Air France said.  

Five minutes later, our larger luggage was rolled away and paid for. Thanks to the assistance of a human being.

However, when it comes to keeping order in the process of boarding—it is mass mayhem.

The flight from Paris to Nice was akin to that of a NYC subway car during rush hour. In the middle of summer. With no air conditioning.

And because of this, the ground staff was pacing the crowd. Eyeing everyone’s carry on. Many passengers were called out because their luggage was just a tad too large for the French version of carryon.  Like the thin and small-boned Gauls, French carryon luggage is just as small-framed.  And many of those pieces came under the scrutiny of Air France and had to be placed into baggage.

One staff member kept walking back and forth past me. She was looking at my Longchamp weekender, which was filled to capacity. Then she would bring her eyes up to my face.  My resting bitch face would not work to keep my luggage with me.  Instead I gave her a kind of tilting head with a begging smirk kind of look.

Longchamp layout

Almost three weeks worth of clothing was stuffed into this and I had to try to make it appear smaller!

I also kicked my weekender in at the sides to make it appear smaller. Either that or she loved my get up of shorts, striped shirt and loafers.  My bag passed the test and I was able to carry it on with me.

There was no rhyme or reason or organization once the announcement was made to board the plane.  The staff tried to allow priority boarding board before everyone else. And they did a decent job. It was the mad rush after priority that caused a minor riot.

They say the most intensive French sport is that of cutting ahead in line.  I mastered that one a long time ago.  I pushed and shoved in the most aggressive but discreet way. After all, I needed quite a bit of overhead space for my bag!

cut-in-line

No. I was the one cutting in line. There ARE no excuses!

We boarded the aircraft and in true form, the rain came. And it came as soon as we boarded our flight to Nice. And it came pouring down in the form of severe thunderstorms.

Hard to believe that rain delayed our flight to Nice from Paris for over two hours. (Really?)  I seem to travel only in bad weather!) It was even harder to process the thought that we were either in the eye of a storm or rather the eye of the Air France strike which was not yet quite over.  The latest news is that the Air France strike will resume next week.

Anxiety rules when you are stuck on the runway and cannot wait to get to your destination.

Anyway, once we were off and running, the hour and a half flight had us landing in Nice to sunny skies!  It’s great to be back on the Cote d’Azur!

Airplane. The first sighting of the Cote d'Azur

NOW I’m getting excited. Look at that view of the Cote d’Azur..

Airplane even closer. I cant control myself GOLD

…and we’re getting closer…

Airplane. Ready to land in Nice. GOLD

 

..and closer!!  And the return is happening!!!

We were greeted by the gentlest breeze as we exited the terminal at the airport and I swear I could hear Daniele’s voice whispering “Bonjour ma Cherie” as the breeze kissed my cheek.  She was looking down at us and smiling!

It was also a warm and fuzzy moment of total familiarity as we hurried to get the car and headed out of the airport to highway A-8 and on our way to the apartment in Theoule. Driving along the route gave a feeling of returning home.  Well, ok maybe not home, but almost home!

Autoroute

On Autoroute A8. Got the Nostalgie station on the radio. I’m pumped!

The community was a bit on the quiet side when we arrived. Bonaparte found out later from the proprietor of the little Epicerie by the pool that the number of visitors was down from last year.  He said because of the tragic events in Paris some foreigners (i.e. Americans) were afraid to travel to France.

I’ll drink to that!  Quite a few customers that I’ve had in Retail Hell basically told me I was nuts to travel to France due to terrorism.  I don’t think these women watch the news at home. Orlando? Sandy Hook?  Columbine?  Daily drive-by shootings?  Um…where’s the danger?

And as is our usual routine, we dropped the luggage off and headed to Geant Hypermarche.  My happy place! It’s the greatest supermarket in the world.

Geant La Galerie

Geant Hypermarche upped their game. It is now Geant La Galerie. With shops like H&M among the boutiques.  This is my French happy place!

We loaded up the car with way too many food items we didn’t need. We also stocked up on laundry detergent, tissues and toilet paper! You know—the necessities.

Geant. President Burger cheese. I'm sure this is better than our plastic cheesefood.

I don’t even EAT burgers but who could resist this Burger Cheese? And it’s cheddar!

Geant. My new friend. The olive man. BLOG GOLD

Last summer I made friends with the Mojito Girl. This summer it’s the Olive Man!

Geant. Mascarpone in a can. Genius. BLOG GOLD

Bonaparte had to physically remove me from these cans of Mascarpone. I had one to my mouth!  I love Geant so much!

We headed back to the apartment in anticipation of an easy dinner of one of those delicious little roasted chickens and various salads. However, by this time, I was starting to feel a bit “punchy” –as though I had too much wine or something. It had been over 24 hours since I slept.

We ended up enjoying our little meal on the terrace and gaining a feeling of calm and peace as we looked out at the sea and just sighed and smiled.

Yes. This will be a great trip! This already IS a great trip!

But I’m about to pass out from lack of sleep so I’ll let the sound of the sea rock me to sleep!

And here’s a song about travel. Francoise Hardy and her husband Jacques Dutronc. “Puisque Vous Partez En Voyage”!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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29 Responses to The Return to France. Ready. Jet. Go No!

  1. calensariel says:

    Boy have I missed your blogs! Seeing it pop up in my email made my day today! ❤ So glad you arrived safely. Can't wait to hear all about it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Catherine says:

      Hi LadyCalen! I’m glad to be back writing. The writing brings back memories and more! LOL. I’m working on more posts and believe me, the most taxing part has been uploading the pics, then classifying them and placing them into file folders. It was a two-day process. Now the hard part is trying to figure out my handwriting!!! Thanks so much! XOXOXOXO

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have missed you sooo much, Catherine. Welcome back xxxx

    And flying I hate it. Well not exactly the flying bit – that’s fine. It was the 6hr delay going and the 4hr wait coming back!!!

    Can’t wait for more news of France xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Penny! I was thinking about you during my vacation–what, with the Brexit and all. But enough of that. Ugh. Don’t even get me started on delays. Or the lack of organizational skills the airline companies have! I’m working on the posts and hope to have another one up and running by day’s end! Hugs! XOXOXOXO!!! (ps. I’m glad we both agree on the track pants!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just found myself – I see I’ve commented on the Reader. OK! Oh, Catherine – I am soooooo devastated by the results of our ghastly Referendum. Please tell Bonaparte that me, my other half and all my friends voted to stay. I am just mortified that the government is saying it won’t guarantee that EU residents can’t be guaranteed that they will be allowed to stay. WHAT! Actually I have really tried to be calm and analytical about it all. Also I have another blog – oh yes, I do! Where I write more political stuff and here is the link to the first of 3 pieces that I’m writing about the result. The first half of the piece is very much addressed to the Americans I met on board ship. But Catherine – there will be such a shit storm in the years to come. Both our political parties are in chaos right now – and NO plan for exit – ye gods!

        http://myotherblog.bn9.co.uk/who-sang-a-song-for-europe-part-1-the-events/

        Liked by 1 person

      • Catherine says:

        Penny. I’m so thankful you have given me the link to your other blog. You are definitely feeding into my procrastination of blogging today–nyah, ha haaaaa!! But seriously–Bonaparte and I were in shock at the results. We both thought that the UK would always remain in the EU. I’m hoping that this doesn’t have a domino effect. God knows the Donald Trump fans are overcome with joy about the results and those same Brits who voted to leave the EU are the equivalent of those Americans who support Trump. I need to get to your blog because I’m trying to be non-political for a few weeks….Hold on–I’m coming!!! XOXOXOXOXO

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Judy says:

    So happy you’re back! I look forward to reading lots more, great to be able to “be” with you on your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MELewis says:

    Ha, ha….very funny post. How fitting that your trip begin with an Air France strike. And garbage nosh or not I’ll take a half-empty American Airlines plane any day! Looking forward to reading about your continuing adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Mel–Yeah. And the best is that we have a credit with Air France but, we have to use it before December 28th! Can you believe it? I’m just hoping that when we do get around to using the credit and get new tickets, AF doesn’t go on another strike. Trust me. i LOVE France but the striking in that country is ridiculous at times! LOL. Yeah. American Airlines isn’t that bad but it kills me that they can’t give the passengers better food–or land the planes at an actual gate! XOXOXOXO!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • MELewis says:

        Air France reminds me a bit of that nursery rhyme about the little girl with the little curl – when they’re good, they’re very good but when they’re bad, they’re horrid. Personally I would send them a letter requesting an extension of the credit. On sait jamais… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Catherine says:

        Hi Mel. Whoa! You will NOT believe this but my dad used to recite that nursery rhyme to me from my childhood up to my adulthood. He said it was written about me–I believed it too! Oh. I got in touch with AF and they refuse to extend the credit. And people wonder why so much of my life is spent complaining!! LOL!! XOXOXOXO!!!

        Like

  5. Bernadette says:

    Welcome back Catherine. I am in total agreement with you about the lady’s room thing. I just don’t get why women have to be such pigs and inconsiderate about personal hygiene. It just boggles my mind that people can be more upset about transgender restrooms than the pig styes that most ladies rooms are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Bernadette! Thanks for the welcome! Oh. I am soooooooooooooooooo glad that you agree with me on the ladies room issue. I mean, come on–women are afraid to sit on a toilet but they will spray their bodily fluids onto the seat and let someone sit on it without wiping the seat off? I think that is one of the most vile things someone can do. I’m very ladies room well-mannered. I wipe the seat BEFORE and after I do my thing. Do these women have no self respect? And yes, it is so ironic that people are worried about transgender bathrooms than they are of slobbering and making a pig-sty of the bathrooms. I wonder what the bathrooms in their homes look like–right??? XOXOXOXO

      Liked by 1 person

  6. spearfruit says:

    Welcome back Catherine! Sounds like the start of the trip was good and bad, but, I know you had a great time. And by the way, trust me most men’s bathrooms are not clean at airports! Have a great day my friend – look forward to more posts about your trip! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Terry! Actually, I think it would be a great idea to go on a world tour of ladies and men’s rooms throughout the world. If only someone would pay me to do that, I’d be on my way to the airport with rolls of toilet paper and disinfectant right now! XOXOXOXO!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Catherine says:

    Terry. I must start to make a proposal…………………..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Julia says:

    I’m am enjoying your posts tremendously. U think like I do. Never been 2 the Côte d’Azur but now I am going vicariously thru ur wonderful blog.😎

    Like

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Julia! Thanks so much. I was a bit trepidatious about posting some of the mundane and routine aspects of our trip. But you know what? Each person has their own way of traveling. I really want to get it across that you don’t have to travel like a jet-setter or have a ton of money. We do it in a budget friendly way but we still manage to have a great time while seeing sights without having an overly ambitious schedule! I really appreciate what you wrote. Thank you again. More stuff coming up!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. KaboodleMum says:

    Sounds like it was tough going to start with but by the end, worth it 🙂 I’d love to visit France, more specifically Paris, it’s always been a dream of mine to visit the Eiffel Tower 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      LOL. It was tough going. I’m not even elaborating on the issues I had with my iPhone or the wee-fee either. But en the end, we had the best time! I’m working on more posts about the trip. Oh…I’ve been to Paris a dozen times and have yet to visit the Eiffel Tower! XOXOXOXO!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great start to what promises to be a wonderful trip, Catherine. The shots from the airplane are gorgeous! I look forward to seeing more of your photos of France. Flying can be so taxing. Add bad food and an airline strike and even worse. I bet you looked gorgeous in that Lilly dress! Nice to have you back to your fun blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Lisa! Let me tell you, I was lucky to get those shots. I took them from my iPhonefromhell. It’s amazing that they turned out so well. Thanks so much for your compliments. It’s definitely be great to be back and writing! Hope you enjoy the future posts about the trip! XOXOXOXO

      Like

  11. mareymercy says:

    Ooooooh airplane pictures! And you were sitting over the wing – the best seat!!! I am gleeful!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Carolyn says:

    Is the Geant Supermarche this one? Thanks!
    Gallery – Giant Fréjus
    480 Rue Eugène Joly, 83600 FRÉJUS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Catherine says:

      Carolyn! I know that Geant!!! But the one we go to is the one in Mandelieu :
      21 Avenue de Fréjus, 06210 Mandelieu-la-Napoule, France
      It’s my favorite store of all time. I walk around just taking pics of the packaging. The people who work there think I’m special-and not in the good way! XOXOXOXO!

      Like

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