Planes, Trains and Talking with Strangers


In the last week, we’ve been on a number of planes and trains, and I have to admit, train travel is more conducive to talk. If you plan on traveling by train while you’re in France – and you like to like to chat – I’d suggest getting one of the ‘old-fashioned’ 2nd class compartments. These are configured so that the seats face one another. (Many of the newer 2nd class cars (or voitures) have the seats placed in rows – the same goes for the TGV second class). Sadly, the newer configuration is not very conducive to talking.

This past week we shared a compartment with an American family headed to Toulouse and a French woman who worked for an American company in Toulouse. During the Bernay to Paris segment of the trip, we had an opportunity to talk about Toulouse and also to hear some comments about France from a family of American travelers: Mom, Dad and daughter and son (we didn’t ask the ages but I’m guessing both kids were between age 7 and 12) What I don’t have to guess about is that they were very well behaved travelers – Mom and Dad, you should be proud!

Bring on the escargots! You think maybe your kids aren’t ready to try something as exotic as snails? Think again. One of the twokids in our compartment told us he loved the escargot and his dad confirmed it – “He doesn’t care what restaurant we go to, as long as he can get snails.” His younger sister didn’t join in the praise for the French snail so the vote may not be unanimous.

We also talked about the Bourget air show which they attended and enjoyed. Dad liked the helicopters best. Apparently this year’s show was much more focused commercial rather than military craft (such as tanks which we’d seen in past years). The next Bourget air show will be two years from now. Many of the big salons, such as the Paris car show and the air show occur every other year.

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I had to ask about hotels in Paris. It’s become a reflex reaction when talking to visitors (and Paris residents).
They had chosen to stay at the Hotel Moliere, 21, Rue de Moliere, not far from the Louvre and Rue de Rivoli. This family was very satisfied with their accommodations, and mentioned that they found the rooms to be larger than they might normally expect. They also found the hotel to be reasonably priced for a 3-star hotel on the Right Bank (under 200 Euros). I took some time to read reviews of the Hotel Moliere on various sites and, as is often the case, some people loved their stay and others were critical (even complaining that the rooms were too small). According to this family, the Moliere Hotel actually has two separate buildings on the same street. If you do choose to stay at this hotel, you may want to have a look at your room first (this is always a good idea no matter where you stay) If other rooms are available, quite often a desk clerk will try to help you find the best room).

Train travel sites: www.voyages-sncf.com

Going from the airport to the train station? These are the major train stations in Paris:
Gare St. Lazare (Normandy)
Gare du Nord (Eurostar)
Gare du L’Est
Gare Montparnasse (Bordeaux, Brittany)
Gare d’Austerlitz
Gare Bercy
Gare de Lyon

You can take the Paris Metro to all of these train stations. From Charles de Gaulle airport, you would have to first take the RER B line to get into Paris, OR you can take the Cars Air France bus shuttle (14 Euros one-way) service which will take you either to Porte Maillot and Etoile (Arc de Triomphe) or Montparnasse and Gare de Lyon.

Check out the site: www.CDGfacile.com for more info about connections using the SNCF’s TGV connection or the RER B. In English, it’s www.easycdg.com