|A Working Trip From Very Bad to Great
(click on the underlined (hyperlinked) words to see the photos).
Several weeks ago my boss here at CGG suggested I go to our office in Massy France
to check on work in progress. So, true to my nature and not desiring to pass up a
good deal, I said, "sure." After all, Paris on a Saturday in April, I am
My original schedule was to leave on a Tuesday at 6:30 PM and arrive at Parisí Charles
de Gaulle Airport the next morning at 11:30 AM. From there to Massy to decompress
for the remainder of Wednesday. And, Thursday and Friday would be full days of work
with Saturday in Paris and then, home on Sunday.
The trip began well enough, I left Houston Bush International Airport (IAH) per schedule.
Unfortunately, I was back home at 4 am Wednesday. Quick trip on a new space plane
or time wrap? Not quite.
Picture this: here we were, 20,000 plus feet over the Gulf of Mexico, all onboard
could taste baguettes and coffee in Paris the next morning when one of the flight
computers has a glitch (sorry BP didnít mean to give you flashbacks). Seems the computers
that allow the Boeing 777 to fly with only 2 pilots had a small problem. This led
to our next problem: What do you do with a full load of fuel that you need to get
rid of before you land?
Somewhere between New Orleans and Lake Charles we made a right turn and circled out
over the water while we dumped all our JP5.
Next problem: International flights with passengers that don't pass through customs.
They, "you", can't get off the plane without entering the country legally.
So we waited on the ground from 7:00 PM, when we returned to Houston, till about
11:30, when they thought they had the computer rebooted and software all in hand.
At that time of night there was not much competition for takeoff slots. So, to the
end of the runway we went. About 1100 feet, or so, down the runway they shut everything
down and returned to the gate. More plane problems.
Since no international flights were scheduled to land until the next morning customs
had gone home - remember those pass-through international passengers. We had to stay
on the plane til 2:00 AM before enough agents could be rounded-up to put 100 people
through customs and we could get off.
So, back home at 4 AM, and then back to the airport at noon. We finally left at 2:00
PM. I arrived in Paris at 6:30 am on Thursday 18 hours late and right in time for
To the uninitiated RER is the Paris subway. It is run by Persians. To prove a point
before the three day May Day weekend, public transportation went on strike on the
Thursday I landed. Nevertheless, I was able to get a high speed train and was on
to Massy. I was in the office, shaved and showered by 9:30 AM, though some there
wouldn't have noticed. I must say the Paris subway is great and really simple, even
if you don't speak French!
It rained all day Thursday and Friday during my office visit. Fortunately, Saturday
and Sunday were the best of the four.
I started Saturday morning with fresh French bread, French Butter ó no hormones-
and French coffee at my hotel in Massy. I was able to walk to the train to take me
to Paris, about a 10 minute walk in a wonderful fog. For 45 ff, 6.562 ff/$, I got
a ticket for the whole day anywhere within Paris.
It took about 30 minutes to get to the Halles station, just behind the
Louvre, arriving at 8:30 Saturday morning. The attached map
shows the area of my walking trip. (Click anywhere on the map to return to this page.)
Having only 8 hours to see Paris what does one do? I decided that I would start with
the Louvre and end at the Eiffel Tower. It is true you can spend days at the Louvre,
so when one is in a hurry decide what you want to see. About 20% is closed on a rotating
daily basis anyway so to see all would take weeks. I chose Mona and 2 hours of wandering
to see what I could see.
Basically my plan was as follows: go to the Louvre
- to see Mona, walk along the Rue de Rivoli and see as much as possible and end the
day at the Eiffel Tower. Since I had this train pass, I naturally walked everywhere.
Why go, underground in such a beautiful place and such a beautiful day. From the
Louvre, where I spent two hours wandering around - Mona was a disappointment but
some other stuff was quite spectacular, I went down to the Touileries, then down
Rue de Rivoli for a sidewalk lunch of a French Sub and coffee. Really, one only need
eat French Bread, French butter and coffee and you would die happy - you would die
with a very big smile on you face even if you arteries didn't like you any more.
The photos titled "Untouchable" are really
that. They are flats that, not only could most of us not afford, but are actually
in peoples wills. Oh, but one can dream.
The pictures of the river were taken from a wooden footbridge
over the Seine at the SW corner of the Louvre. The
photos from there look back at Isle St. Michel and Notre Dame. If you look really
close at the picture you will see something only a Frenchman
would do. Guess correctly and I'll buy you a burger the next time we go to lunch.
[Send your guess to Tom]
After the Louvre I strolled down the Rue de Rivoli window shopping. I detoured to
Napoleons monument at the Palace Verdone and on to lunch along the Rivoli in a very
friendly sidewalk cafe. A word here about the people of Paris. For years we have
been told they are rude, what I found was only the Taxi drivers are rude - and they
are that way everywhere today. I was told they have changed, for the better I'm not
For those fans of Cary Grant movies, the Touileries picture
will all the Tulips, is just as you see in the movie
"Charade." I am told they still have the flea market on Sunday mornings
- where the little boys trades a $2000,000 stamp, although it has succumbed to time
and is much smaller than it was when the movie was made.
The city apparently spends vast amounts of money on its' appearance and puts many
places here in the states to shame. There was nothing I saw that needed paint, although
last winterís storm is visible in building repairs everywhere. The city really is
quite what people say it is and well worth the trip, but more on that with the rest
of the pictures.
Stay tuned for the next set of pictures. They will include the Nappy monument, some
really high end stores, the Obelisk, Mr. Ferris' wheel, a really wide boulevard and
Mr. Eiffelís Tour.
Oh, by the way, I'm going back at the end of the month. Stopping in London for 4
days and then on to Massy for 4 days. Hopefully Hettie will be going and have some
fun while yours truly works. In any case I (we) will be taking more pictures and
going to the Left Bank and Notre Dame this time- on your left hand side going down
river through Paris. Look for installment #3 coming in late August. Installment #2
is currently being made into a CD and will be onboard as soon as William returns
from China and can get some time to put my wanderings into the page.