Arriving in France

Published on 30 September 2022 at 15:51

We woke up at 4:00 am to pull ourselves together for our very early departure from Florence. After Courtney called us a taxi and we had one last experience with Italian driving, we flew from Florence to Paris. It’s a short flight, but you can feel how different the culture is from the moment you exit the plane.

We landed at Orly Airport and made our way to the taxi stand. I noticed several posters warning of fraudulent taxis and how to spot them, which was a thing I’d never thought to be wary of before. We got to the line for a taxi and thought we were fully on our way once we being driven off in one. But once we were on the highway, our taxi driver was pulled over! Since neither of us speaks French, we still don’t know why he was pulled over or why the officer was asking, but it must have all been ok, because the officer let us go and we arrived on our street just fine. We found our charming French boutique hotel, set in a very nice neighborhood, with a wonderful gentleman behind the front desk. We were very early, so we expected to have to leave our bags in the office and come back much later, but the gentleman told us that our room was already ready and he carried our bags up a winding staircase to the top floor for us. We took some time to rest a bit after such an early flight (a necessity for a night owl like Courtney), and then looked for a meal and something fun to do close by. In our original plan for this trip, we thought we would be on a train all day, not an early morning flight, so we considered today a bonus day in Paris. After a slightly stilted attempt to get lunch from a place on our hotel’s street, we ended up at the corner Irish pub. Courtney has been to Ireland and hung out in pubs there, and she said the only Irish thing on the menu at this place was Guinness! Our waiter came and found us and explained he was the only one available at the time who spoke English, and he talked us through the specials and answered our questions before we decided that what we really, REALLY needed after our last few Italian meals was absolutely salad. After eating, Courtney pulled up Google Maps and got very excited when she realized that Oscar Wilde’s grave was only a short walk away. So we spent our first afternoon in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

View from our Window 

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest green space in Paris and the final resting place of many famous people. It was a wonderfully serene and quiet space for being in the middle of such a big city, and following the guide to the graves of the most well-known residents was almost like a treasure hunt. Some of the graves we saw were for Rossini, who composed the opera Cerentola (which we will see while here), Chopin, Oscar Wilde, and Bizet, who composed the opera Carmen,one of Courtney’s favorites. We found Oscar Wilde’s grave with a glass wall up around it and a sign asking people not to mark it, which was confusing until we saw all the lipstick prints left on the glass! On the way back to the hotel, we thought we would get a snack and stopped at a bar with good reviews, only to have our first experience with French places not serving food between lunch and dinner, only drinks. So naturally, we decided to share a few glasses of wine!