I went on a search for breakfast while Mary woke up and got dressed, but apparently Paris belongs to the Crack O’Nooner club on Sunday. So I came back and we packed up in preparation to leave for Bayeux. I was madly searching for the train ticket that Mary left on the counter for me. And after I got all packed up, looked through my stuff two or three times, Mary found it on the shelf where she kept her stuff. Who knows how it got there, but apparently the travel angel is looking after me. And after all that, no one even checked our train tickets!
Oops, I think I published this post long before it was finished!
Here are today’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/58fXdG7ezpTSoU1n9
We had oodles of time before we had to vacate our room, so I went off to the Jardin des Plantes, a huge botanical garden and zoo just a short walk from the hotel. It’s the wrong time of year to visit a garden, most everything is dormant and leafless. There were a few violas flowering-they’d obviously been planted maybe a couple of weeks ago, and there were poppies flowering too. A couple of gardens were closed due to the season, which was disappointing. I was particularly looking forward to the alpine garden and it seems odd to me that it was closed. Alpine means cold and snowy to me, but cie la vie! There were several plants sheltered with a transparent cover, so apparently not all alpine plants are cold hardy. The grape vine area and a small wild looking wooded area were also closed. That seemed obvious to me, since grapes are dormant and there’s nothing to see, beyond trellised sticks.
I walked up to the small labyrinth, with a tiny pergola at the top, hoping to get a view of the gardens, but there were too many trees. This is one of the few hills I’ve seen in Paris, just a short little stroll up to the top. I’m not sure what the hedge was; it was an evergreen of some sort. It looked like spruce needles but the needles are very soft and pliable. The gardens are laid out very formally. One area had small water gardens surrounded by several loops of paths. The center area is a large lawn, with long rows of the poppies and violas down the center of the lawns and paths down each side and in between the lawns. Huge chestnut (I think that’s what they are) trees line the lawns on either side, trimmed so that when the leaves are out, they make a boxed roof. My photos turned out kind of dark; it is earlyish, but I need to change some settings so the photos come out better.
There is also a zoo, but I didn’t visit that. I would have loved to go through the buildings, but I knew I didn’t have time to do even one of them justice. There were two huge greenhouses too, but you needed a ticket to go through them. I really could have have spent all day there, and the hour and a half I did spend was just long enough to get a taste of the gardens. Each of the buildings-the Grand Gallery & Children’s Museum, the Gallery of Geology & Mineralogy , the Botanical Gallery and Gallery of Comparative Anatomy and Paleoentology are each easily a U.S. city block long. And the history of the place… I passed a commemorative stone on the way up to the labyrinth, for the premier director, Jean-Marie ne a Montbard, 1716-1799. I am guessing that’s the first director, so the botanical garden has possibly been in existence for something like 300 years.
We had to check out of the room by noon (12:00 a.m., according to the brochure; we had a laugh over that), so I went back around 11:30 to do a last check and finish zipping up my suitcase. I felt a bit like a bag lady, since I had a camera and my purse strapped over my shoulders, my day pack under my jacket, and carrying a shopping bag with my suitcase. And I was the one that cautioned Mary not to bring too much stuff! She had just her purse and her one suitcase. I justified my bag lady-ness by claiming it was all my Christmas shopping. Which was mostly kinda true.
We went down and checked out of the room, and I had the hotel call us a cab to take us to the train station. Mary & I got in a small snit because I did that, and she flagged down a cab just as the one the hotel had called pulled up. She was angry because for the hotel to call a cab costs an extra 4 euros (& she’d just spent almost 800 euros on the room, so why was 4 euros such a big deal?), so I said I’d pay for the cab ride. I just didn’t see that 4 euros was anything to quibble over; just to get in the cab is 3 euros (so we started off by owing the cabbie 7 euros). Anyway, we got to Gare St. Lazare in one piece.
This is certainly a different experience than I had in ’78! Holeee cow! Clean, bright, well-lit, and none of that hole in the floor, garbage-encrusted-toilet business. The middle and bottom floors had upscale shops and nice restaurants of various types. The top floor, where we caught the train, had a Burger King and a Starbucks, as well as some small grab-and-go restaurants, plus an information office and the ticket office. I wish I could remember exactly what station I was at in ’78; I’d love to see what it looks like now.
Mary was ready for some breakfast so she did that while I checked out the station. Turned out that we wouldn’t find out what track we were leaving from until 15-20 minutes before we leave. And this really showed up our different traveling styles. I was okay with that, mostly. It would have been nice to have a little bit more advance knowledge, but 15 minutes is plently of time to get from the message board to the train. Mary, on the other hand, wanted to wait and see what the board would look like after the track was announced; she is much more of a planner than I am.
So, I left her to watch the board, and went to look for some lunch. I spied an easy exit from the station, and on my way out saw a train store! I couldn’t believe my luck! Unfortunately it was closed on Sundays, so I hope I have time to come back on my way home. I found a nice quiet place across the street and had the most excellent salad. Thin, thin smoked salmon over lettuce with baby shrimp, a quartered tomato, and small slices of a proscuitto-like ham, with a light dressing. It was so delicious!
I still had about an hour before the train left, so wandered around the second level in search of dessert. I didn’t find that, but I did find Pylones, a gift shop with all this fun stuff. I bought a pair of glasses (12 euros, about $13.20 , much cheaper than the $20 I usually spend in the U.S.) and a hard eyeglass case that I can use for my embroidery scissors and needles. I have this really boring dark green one, that works great but it’s sooo boring.
I found Mary up by the train tracks, as I expected. People started surging towards a track, so I asked a group of three police officers for help and they kindly told me which track to go to. We found our car and piled on; not easy to do with the suitcases. I had hoped we would be able to leave them in a baggage area, but I misunderstood the ticket seller. We had to heave them over our heads on a rack above the seats. This was the same as in Poland, so I wasn’t surprised. Next time I am not going to be a bag lady!
It was about a two hour ride to Bayeux, and we got there after dark, about 6 p.m. A young Spanish woman we met on the train walked to the hotel with us; so nice of her to be our guide. It was about a half mile, so by the tiime we got there, Mary was just exhausted. She went straight to bed, and I went off to get her some onion soup. I found some right away, so brought it back and then went off to find my own dinner. I also hoped to stop at an internet cafe, but it was closed for the holidays. I’ll try the other one tomorrow and if that’s closed, then maybe there will be one in St. Malo.
I walked past the Bayeux tapestry museum, so that will be easy to find tomorrow. I also walked by this small water mill; I couldn’t find any signage, so I am hoping that tomorrow will shed more light on that. And there are some cute giftshops to explore tomorrow too.