Friday, January 6, 2012
Nice to meet you (again) France!
We were lucky on our flight to France as we got to have Premium Voyageur seats on Air France since there were no regular Voyageur (Economy) seats available when we bought our tickets - oh darn! These seats were much nicer - they were in their own section of the plane with nicer screens, more room, etc. A much nicer way to fly. In fact we were able to actually sleep on the flight. Now whether that was due to the nicer seats or the fact that we were all completely exhausted, who knows. But at least we would arrive in France slightly rested.
It’s always amazing to me how easy immigration and customs are in France. At immigration they just open your passport & stamp without asking a single question - then you’re off to collect your luggage. So R and I headed to grab all the suitcases, while S & C went to wait for the animals. She & I grabbed 3 carts and piled them high with luggage. I was able to push 2 carts at the same time side by side so we were able to easily make our way to the oversize luggage area just in time to see all the animals come out! They seemed none too worse for the wear though Zoe was a bit anxious. We were really worried that they would have pooped or thrown up in their crates and had packed some towels and stuff just in case, but all was good - and clean.
Of course because we were so prepared with all our documents, not a single person stopped to check our luggage or the animals. 6 police officers were standing right at the doors leaving the baggage claim area, but nobody asked us a thing – even with our 5 carts, 7 suitcases, 6 carry-ons, 2 dogs & crates and 1 cat & crate. One even helped C push a cart through the baggage claim doors, but didn’t ask for any papers. I guess it was good to be prepared, but a bit annoying that we had spent so much time & effort for nothing. Though you know if we hadn't, that's when we would have been stopped.
Right outside the doors I was very relieved to see a man holding a sign with our name on it. We had 2 drivers and 2 vans there to meet us. Once again we divvied up, loaded up the vans and took off. They drove us to the hotel where we were staying for 2 nights in Versailles – right down the street from the castle. It was a nice hotel, no problems with all the animals and they even stored the crates for us. We were so tired that first night that we just ordered room service and crashed.
The next day we all had a good breakfast at the hotel and then S & I went to meet the rental agents & bailiff at our house. The bailiff was to go through the whole house and take good notes on the condition of everything so that they can compare conditions when we move out. It was weird to see the house again as we had really only seen it for about ½ an hour back in November. It seemed a lot smaller than we remembered, and the walls really needed some painting. They had originally offered to do the painting but we had said no that it didn’t need it, but now we changed our minds. With all their artwork and pictures off the walls, it looked pretty bad. It is an old house with all the quirky characteristics that go with an old European house, but parts of it have been updated as well. It still seemed like a good house for us – especially compared to all the crap that we had seen before.
The rental furniture was due to be delivered at 2:00 that day, but the guys were already there (4 hours early) when we arrived in the morning – much better than being late. As soon as the bailiff was done, the furniture guys moved everything in. And funny enough, the house looked bigger with furniture in it. Not sure how that works! While the furniture was being moved in I sent S to go pick up R&C from the hotel because we needed C to be sure which bedroom she really wanted so her furniture could be set up. We were so worried about them seeing the house since they had not liked or wanted it when we were here before. I was watching out the front window when they arrived and the first thing they did was run up the driveway and go over to the rope swing on the tree and start swinging. I knew then it would be ok. After they had explored a bit they told me that it was better than they thought & it seemed like it would work. I was so relieved to hear that.
Even though all our furniture was in, we all agreed that the girls & I would stay the 2nd night in Versailles at the hotel as planned, but S and the dogs would stay at the house. Even though we had 2 adjoining rooms at the hotel, it still wasn’t much room for 4 people, 2 dogs and a cat. We thought the animals would be much more comfortable at the house. The girls just wanted to stay in again, but S and I wanted to go out and get a drink and some dinner. After a glass of good red wine at the hotel bar, we wandered off to find a place that we had seen that looked like an Irish pub. And indeed it was. We bellied up to the bar and used our limited French to order deux Guinnesses. Yum! While it seemed like a great pub with rugby on the tellie, and Guinness on tap, there was no food served there – and we were hungry. So we left after only 1 beer to find some food. It was 10:00 at night and even though they eat later in France, many places were closed. We found a cute street with several restaurants and walked down until we found one that appealed to us. For some reason Indian sounded good so that’s what we went for. It was a tiny restaurant, but the chicken tikka masala was good and the people running the restaurant were friendly. All in all a good day and a good night. S dropped me back off at the hotel and then he drove back to Sèvres for his first night in our “new” house.
Cheers to you France!