I recently had the opportunity to chaperon the Peabody Children’s Chorus as they toured France. When I say recently, I mean we just got home on Monday. I’m still extremely jet-lagged and sleep deprived, so forgive me if I ramble. My CRS (that’s Can’t Remember Shit, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the syndrome) being what it is, I wanted to be sure and get this all down before I forget that I even left the country.
This actually spanned 2 days. We left at 5:35pm Friday, June 28th (after an hour and 20 minute weather delay), flew overnight, and landed at around 7am Saturday morning. Everyone was loaded on to two coaches, and then we got our first glimpse of Paris in the form of a 2 hour bus tour. It was rainy and the top of the Eiffel Tower was enshrouded in fog, but it was really neat to see. Our tour guide, Arianne, (I think that was her name, but I was half-asleep after not sleeping at all on the plane), was very entertaining and informative. She schooled us on the difference between Bobos and Hipsters, and pointed out every dog that we passed on the street. We even saw the back end of The Thinker as we passed by at 30 mph.
After our bus tour, we were dropped off in the heart of Paris, near Opera Garnier…for FOUR HOURS. Now, being given 4 hours of free time to do whatever you like might normally be a good thing, but when you’ve been traveling since yesterday and haven’t slept, it’s a little bit like Chinese water torture. We got lunch and wandered around the area, but really all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep for a month. Even the 5 shopaholic teens I was chaperon to were less than exuberant as they browsed through H&M. (Yes, of course they could shop there at home…you know it, I know it, they know it…but it’s in Paris, so it must be better than the one at home, right?)
Finally, free time was over. We got back on the buses and headed for our first hotel. After check in, we spent a little time cleaning up and settling in, then walked to dinner. After dinner, we had a chaperon meeting, policed the halls for a bit to make sure we didn’t have any escapees, then went to bed. That’s when we discovered 3 important things about the French:
- They don’t believe in air conditioning
- They don’t believe in putting screens on their windows
- They don’t sleep. Ever.
Because of #1, my roommate and I had the window open in our room, which is how we learned about #’s 2 and 3. France must have a low suicide rate, as they do not put any kind of screens on their hotel windows, nor do they restrict how far you can open them. I found this amusing, because after trying unsuccessfully to sleep that first night, I considered tossing myself out the open window. There was noise outside all night long – music from what sounded like an outdoor party not too far away, punctuated by the occasional loud voices and sometimes even yelling and screaming. Somewhere between 2 and 3am, I’d swear I heard what sounded like someone dragging a bag full of broken glass down the sidewalk. The rave-like music went on until around 6am.
One notable thing on our first day in the country – we saw a woman on a bicycle get hit by a car. (She was fine) Even though they drive on the right side of the road in France, I don’t think I would ever be comfortable driving there myself…at least not in the city. Silly things like lines on the street and road rules seem to be more like suggestions to the Parisians…
Coming up next:
Day 2: First Full Day in Paris