Trip Report: Paris, France (Day 1)

Streets of Baeux

Streets of Baeux

Amazingly I was not hung over from all that champagne. I read this article after New Year’s about what to do with leftover champagne. Whoever has leftover champagne? The article said to bathe in it (weird) or use it to shine your shoes (wasteful). I’d rather have dull shoes and a fuzzy head before I ever scrubbed my boots with champagne. The very idea.

I started a thread about going to Normandy to go to the D-Day beaches. I followed the advice that I should go in the beginning of my trip. If I had to do this all over again, I would have left for Normandy on Sunday night, when I arrived.  Also, I might have taken the time to clarify things with the tour operator.  Since I was the only person on the tour, he would have accommodated me with a later start time.  The reason I stayed overnight is because I could not get an early enough train from Paris for a 9AM start.  It doesn’t matter because I really enjoyed Bayeux.

On my way to Gare Saint-Lazare, I decided to find an Orange mobile boutique.  I really cannot be without internet.  I know some people think it’s best to unplug but that isn’t my style.  I like posting immediately to Facebook or Instagram.  Plus, I need that GPS in my life.

I went to the Orange near the train station.  The lady here was the first rude person I’ve encountered.  The minute I walked in the store she was like, “No, we don’t have that here.”  Bitch, can I ask a question first?  I showed her my hotspot and she shook her head.  I was like, “Do you have SIM cards?”  No, we don’t.  Okay, this is a cell phone store and ya’ll don’t have SIM cards.  She told me to go to the SFR (another mobile company) down the street.  I went there and those mother fuckers acted like they didn’t speak English.  I was annoyed but it’s nothing to get stressed out about.  You win some, you lose some.

Instead, I went to a cafe and got some wine.  Yes, I drank wine at 10AM.  I did some more research because I know the Orange place sells SIM cards.  I read it on their stupid ass website.  Okay, so I was using the wrong phrase.  They don’t say SIM.  It’s data pass.  Whateves.  There’s an Orange in Bayeux.  I’ll go there and not have to worry about the stank-faced lady at the Orange over here.

I went back to the train station because there’s a mall in the train station.  Yes, a mall.  I didn’t want to buy anything just yet because I really did not have time.  I just browsed and spent some time people watching.  Man, I really need to step my game up.  These women can dress!  And they don’t let the cold get to them.  In the US, when it gets cold everybody layers up in old sweatshirts, ugly Christmas sweaters and anything else they can find.  They be lookin’ like homeless people.  But these women, no, they have on fashionable coats, furs, beautiful hats, everything.  High heels and all.

Cathedral in Bayeux, built in the 11th century

Cathedral in Bayeux, built in the 11th century

There’s a TA thread about what to wear.  Let me give you some advice.  There are two types of women: a woman who dresses, and a woman who puts on clothes. If you simply put on clothes, don’t worry you’ll be fine. But if you DRESS, and you know what I’m talking about, ya betta work!

I had another frustrating experience in my attempt to get on the train.  I bought the tickets through the captaine train app on iPhone. It said to go to the self-serve kiosk and print the tickets. I spent about 30 minutes at this kiosk, desperately trying to figure out how to bring up prepaid tickets. There wasn’t an option for it. I could only buy new tickets. The kiosk was in English and I just could not figure out what I was doing wrong. What do I do? Have another glass of wine to think this out? No, there’s no time. Train leaves in half an hour.

I wandered around aimlessly in the train station for a little while and then I just happened to see a second bank of kiosks.  These were different than the other ones.  I guess the other ones were for local trains and I needed a kiosk for trains leaving the city.

The ride to Bayeux would be considered nondescript for some, but for me it was beautiful. Even in the stark winter there is beauty to be had. Trees even devoid of leaves are amazing when you’ve been living in a for real desert with no trees, or grass, or anything resembling green. There’s a lot of farmland. Cows, horses and whatnot. Stuff a lot of people take for granted, or write off as beneath their notice. I am a city girl, but I do appreciate nature.

Inside the cathedral.

Inside the cathedral.

I arrived in Bayeux around 2PM. I discovered my cell service to be out of range, so now I have no internet at all which means no GPS.  Le sigh.  You know, this is my actual life.  I did remember that my hotel was right across the street from the cathedral.  The town is only like a mile long and you can see the spires from the train station so I just walked in that direction.  It took maybe 8 minutes to get there, and I figured a cathedral has four sides, so four streets to walk down looking for my hotel.  I found it on the first street.  After I checked in, I used their wifi to find the Orange.

Since I knew what to ask for, the lady was able to hook me up.  Thank God.  I can’t be walking around all disconnected.

Afterward, I went to the cathedral.  C’est magnifique!  I mean, really.  It was built in the 11th century and the centre of some important events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror.  You know I get off on that sort of thing.

Scene:  it’s 1572. You’re a good Catholic, or maybe you’re a Huguenot in hiding. You attend mass because it’s the expected thing to do. You believe in God, but you’re more concerned about feeding your family. Do you think the cathedral is amazing? Is it a monstrosity? Or maybe you don’t even notice because everything looks like this in the 16th century.

I like to wonder things like this. Of course, here in 2015 we find it spectacular because people do not generally live in castles anymore or attend church in an honest to goodness cathedral. When they built it in the 11th century did they find it awe-inspiring?

The crypt:  what lies beneath?

The crypt: what lies beneath?

I spent about an hour in the cathedral. I even went down into the crypt, which creeped me out. I couldn’t linger there too long. It was so…enclosed… low ceilings.  Horror movies teach me that bad things happen in crypts. Either the skeletons will animate, or the ghost of William the Conqueror will rise up. I’m just kidding. Billy ain’t buried there.  He’s up the street in Caen.

I was going to see the famous tapestry but the museum was closed.  I was really pissed about that.  The tapestry actually depicts all the events before the conquest.  It has everything about William, Harold and the old King of England.  They say it’s huge.  I guess I’ll have to come back another time.  According to the website, the museum is closed during the normal holidays and also from 5 January to 30 January 2014. Yes, 2014. That’s what it said. Since it’s 2015 I figured I was good. Joke’s on me! I bet they close yearly at this time.

I had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.  I wanted to go to Le Rapiere but it’s closed on Mondays. Matter of fact, most of the town was quite dead. Only a handful of shops were open, most likely chains. All the mom and pop places were shuttered, which is just as well. I wanted to buy everything in the windows. In my mind, I’ve already spent half my retirement.  It’s that serious.

Mmm...pizza.

Mmm…pizza.

The menu was rather simple so I just went with pizza.  I saw one with smoke salmon.  That actually did not sound like it would be a good combo.  Smoked salmon on pizza with goat cheese, capers and tomatoes.  Sounds gross, but I ordered it anyway because I want to try new things.  I do like salmon and capers, but I don’t like cheese or tomatoes.  It actually tasted really good.  I picked off the tomatoes but the cheese was very mild.  I think it tastes better than regular cheese.

Someone also told me to get something called cidre.  It’s a sweet drink that is very easy to drink.  Whaaaat!  I didn’t realise I was so tipsy until I stood up to pay.  Yeaaah, that’s what I’m talking about.  I had a crepe for dessert, then went back to my room because the next day would be an early start.

I watched French TV.  It’s so funny.  I watched some show where four brides attend each other’s wedding and rates it.  Naturally, each bride thought her own wedding was the best.  Then when the other brides get to hear the comments, everybody gets pissed.  Then the commercials–LOL.  They actually reminded me of Japanese commercials.  Over the top and ridiculous with weird music.  One commercial was for Pampers and it had all these cute cuddly babies but the background music was Queen’s We Will Rock You.  How does that even go together?

Anyway, the next installment is about the D-Day beaches tour.  Amazing.  Amazing.  Amazing.

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