We spent our last night in Paris over dinner at Gemini, one of the restaurants we’ve visited on every trip here. Such a nice place, and some of the best Italian food we’ve ever had. For some reason, we seem to eat a lot of Italian in France, though on this trip we did honor the local cuisine twice, at the Gascon restaurant with duck and that great classic French neighborhood brasserie with Ruth. We had the greatest waitress at Gemini, from Italy and fluent in 4 languages.
Having had such a great experience with the ride service coming into Paris, I used them again on the way out. Once again, the driver was great – on time, willing to chat in Franglish and in every way a classic Gallic character. Damien by name.
He was using Waze to plot the best way to Charles de Gaulle Airport, and frankly I’m not sure the app was up to the challenge this morning. It routed us up the Champs, where we could see first hand the damage from the ongoing Gilets Jaunes protests. Broken windows, boarded up stores. On our walk back from La Tour yesterday we saw the same on a few storefronts, including one with a sign that said, “You can thank them for doing this to us.” Interestingly, every single Parisian we talked to said they started out supporting their message but now they were sick of the violence and destruction. “Bad for tourism, bad for business, bad for us personally” was a common refrain.
We eventually reached the traffic circle under the Arc de Triomphe and the traffic was amazing. Our driver wanted to exit onto Avenue Foch, which was at the 2 o’clock position (we having come in at the 6 o’clock position.) Problem was, there were two buses that had had a fender-bender, and they were in the process of taking photos of each other. When they finally started to move, Damien angled the car against the traffic and managed to sneak through between the buses. Had a dump truck not just complete the same maneuver, I would have doubted it could be done. But he made it, and Avenue Foch was gratefully empty. The traffic was heavy again on the peripherique, but it thinned out as we got further from town. Damien told us, “45 minutes out, 2 hours back.” We made it with time to spare and had a nice second breakfast in the lounge and boarded and departed on time.
While taxiing out to the runway, I had a nice view of the original Air France SST, now sitting on pylons just beyond the terminals. Aside from the futuristic design, I am always amazed by how small it is, particularly compared to the 777s and 787s sitting at the gates. So far ahead of its time.
Nothing interesting to report about the flight except that the 787 has auto-dimming windows which denied me my departure photos. I always try to get a shot of whatever coastline we cross as we head out to sea, but with the windows set to “Deepest Blue” it’s difficult. I did get a shady one leaving France and another leaving Ireland. Britain was too socked in to see anything.
We used Mobile Passport to get back into the country, and as always, we beat everyone including the Global Entry bunch. It’s a great app – you pre-load your passport information, answer the Customs questions and submit it as soon as you have a signal after landing. Then, you get a QR code that you show a dedicated agent and you’re on your way.
The TSA treatment you get in the US really makes you appreciate how it’s handled abroad. After the highly automated system in Portugal, and the quite intense but quite fast check in Paris, our system just seems so rinky-dink. Half the time it seems like your throwing your stuff up on a folding table that’s been sitting there since 2002.