Our final flight on TAP was just great – excellent terminal, orderly boarding, on-time departure and a fantastic lunch – a fish and vegetable stew for me, pumpkin-stuffed tortellini for MLW. We arrived about 15 minutes early, but André our driver was waiting just outside the last door. This was our first arrival at Orly, and so I wasn’t sure what to expect based on tales I had heard. It was okay, but clearly a bit shopworn. He loaded us into a C-Class Mercedes for the drive into town.
Now, before everyone gets all offended by us putting on airs, I’ll say this – the rate from the airport to Paris is now fixed at 57€ whether you take a private car, a taxi or an ox cart. So why not? English speaking, dressed in a suit, a shiny black luxury sedan, guaranteed price.
It took about 30 minutes to get into town. The weather was cooler than what we’d been experiencing, but it was mostly sunny, and it felt good to be back in the City of Light. “April in Paris,” as they say.
Knowing the neighborhood, I had a good idea of where the apartment was situated but it turned out even better than we could have hoped. Literally a half-block around the corner from Le Grand Epicerie, our favorite grocery store on earth.
Georgina, our host, was a bit late, so we waited outside. A woman with some sort of location problem came up the street yelling loudly and waving a map. Given the suitcases, she left us alone, instead blocking the paths of oncoming pedestrians until she finally convinced a woman to stop and help her. The woman took out her phone, looked at the map and told her that she had to turn around and go back the way she came. This didn’t sit well with her, so she started to yell even louder. The helper shook her head and came past us, stopping to tell us, in English, that the woman was nuts. “I’ve here for 30 years,” she said, “And I know where she’s trying to go.”
Georgina thankfully showed up as the distressed woman was now standing in the middle of the street yelling and crying. As another woman came out of a shop to see what was going on, we went inside.
I genuinely hit a home run with this place. 5thfloor, elevator, two bedrooms, three baths, views out all the windows, church bells out the front and the back, washer and dryer and decent furnishings. Oh, and another Nespresso machine! Just perfect. We gathered our shopping bags and went out to Le Epicerie to gather our most important supplies – yogurt, blueberries, Special K, bananas, and something for dinner – 3 little quiches and a puff pastry stuffed with creamed chicken and vegetables. After all those nights out, dinner in sounds pretty good.
Shopping at that store is such a great experience. It’s busy, and sometimes people get in your way, but the staff is so friendly, and the goods are a feast for the eye. From the most obscure gourmet products to Tropicana orange juice. Their yogurt selection alone makes me want to sell everything and move here – hundreds of brands and flavors, all in neat little glass jars. The fruit is fresh and the desserts unlimited. All with an oenophile-level wine store in the basement.
Always looking for a challenge, I decided to do self-check out. Because, after all, cross-cultural comparisons are what makes us interesting. Instead of weighing every item you put in the bag, they have a few well-dressed and well-spoken security people hanging around. More to help than to wrestle you to the floor for shop lifting. Not a single “Please put item in the bag. Please re-scan item and put item in the bag. Attendant called – help is on the way” call-out. I rang it up, MLW bagged it, and I even managed to do the whole credit card thing in French. If only our grocery stores could be this easy.