This was the part of the holiday I have been dreading – the long drive back to Paris from Normandy. I had seen the route back on Google Map and it looked like we would traverse a quarter of Northern France.
By now we understood how Garmin worked and Pat was adroit on the left hand drive manual transmission. The car’s inbuilt TomTom was a supporting system which most often did not agree with Garmin. We opted for toll road, going by A13 then A14 to Paris. It would cost us €21.
Without taking breakfast at the B&B, we drove off in the dark at 8 am. The night before had been dry though it was -4C that morning. Thankfully there was no frost and we started off without issue. Our journey was uneventful and we even got to enjoy the sunrise on the road trip.
We were ahead of schedule and after a pit stop decided to change our destination to our hotel, Hotel De Senlis to drop off our luggage before returning the car at Hertz.
The 3 hours taken to drive to Paris was nothing compared to the 15 minutes in downtown Paris . It will be an event we will remember for a long time. Garmin had instructed us to do the NW approach so we got into Paris by way of La Defence. We landed right smack in the thick of action in Champs Elysee the moment we emerged from the tunnel with the Arc facing us.
There was lots of excitement in the car and Pat was suddenly on high alert. We met our first crisis when we drove among the chaos around the unmarked Arc , each car trying to go its own way. There was total madness but everybody actually got moving in no time. It was simply incredible, something that would not happen in Singapore without a lot of honking.
After the Arc as we approached La Concorde, it seemed like the whole of France has descended on that little plot of space – it was jam packed with people. Amazingly we managed to get to the lane we wanted and make our way to Hotel Senlis on the left bank. Then Pat did the French thing and drove backwards on the one way road so that we could unload the luggage at the concierge. The journey in between the end of A14 and the hotel will be in the oral annals of our family history archives.
Our next stop was a little drive to Montparnasse, where I quickly located the Hertz return depot at 13 Rue du Commandant Rene Mouchant, beside Pullman Hotel. The return was uneventful but what was mention worthy was that we woke up early so that we could settle the luggage problem and return the car before the Hertz guys go for lunch at 1 pm. In fact, we were early ( return time 2 pm ) and avoided the surcharge of another day.
We grabbed lunch near Hertz office at Rue Du Maine ( 2 steak burger, 1 German meal , 3 beverages ) for €50 . It was a celebratory meal for a safe trip back.
We claimed ownership of our bags, checked in to room 34 ( another rooftop unit but warmer with lots of light and heating ). H even has her own alcove bedroom , which was very cute.
We made arrangements for airport shuttle pickup on 1 Jan 2015 ( €54 ) before heading out.
We visited Pantheon and Notre Dame, intending to enter but deterred by the long queue. Even so, we managed to get night shots of Notre Dame and relive our first visit with H 10 years ago.
On the way to St Germain, we got into Promod and saw some winter which I thought would be suitable for H’s interview at UCL. At €129, the fully wool overcoat was a reasonable buy,
We walked back to St Germain and after failing to locate Carrefour hopped into the first restaurant with available seats. The meal was good, service slow as usual ( €50 ). We thought of visiting the night markets and were surprised that they were all closed by the time we were done with dinner. It was not even 8.30pm.
We made our way back, with a ‘loot’ of overcoat and truffle oil from Monoprix. There was nothing good for breakfast but Pat spied Macs on his handphone apps ( citymapstogo ) near our place. With lots of foresight, our breakfast was already accounted for the next day,