Saturday, July 17, 2004

Our next-to-last hotel breakfast in France was followed by mid-morning checkout and a drive to Yport a few miles east. Much smaller than Étretat, this time in high season the town was somehow uncomfortable. Once again we were the "them". The beach and falaises were as memorable as ever, in any case, and our (again, repeat) lunch at the Petits St. Pierre bar provided salads as good as first visit.F noted that the geological strata in the cliff walls had been "copied" by all the builders of the area, who use alternate striations of different colored brick and stone to animate the flat facades. We walked the town, explored the beach, but left early afternoon, since we wanted to be sure to get a hotel rom in the area of the CDG airport for next day's flight home.

The drive turned out to be much longer than we expected, so we were happy to have gotten an early start. We decided en route that the larger coastal town of Fécamp seemed much more interesting and charming this trip than the last. We'd want to visit there if we go to Normandy again. And the same goes for the town Les Andelys down closer to Paris--beautiful parks, architecture, and an altogether jewel-like small city.

We got a room in the most minimalist of Ibis hotels within a mile of the airport, threw away jars of jam, olives, useless guidebooks, week-old cookies, screening material, apples, and such, and repacked all of our belongings into the required two units each. We left two unopened bottles of leftover wine for the hotel service, having already weighted down our luggage with several bottles of cider and Cahors red. Dinner in the hotel was what you'd expect.

Towards evening a squall-line storm of incredible force tore through the airport bending trees, making white waves of rain visible through our hotel windows, and leaving us wondering whether any planes had tried to land or take off in its fury. The winds were near hurricane force, but lasted only for 3 or 4 minutes.

After sleep, on Sunday, the 18th, we had breakfast, turned in our rental car, and began the WORST ordeal of airport negotiation we've yet encountered--1 1/2 hour line just to check in. Hours more to have our checked luggage hand-searched, usual security waits at the metal detectors, double and triple searches of carry-on, frisking by hands and wands, more waits at the gate, overbooking by Air France that led to their decision to switch aircraft---another 1 hour delay at the gate. And so on.

We were in transit 17 hours, though the flight only required 7. We were very very relieved to be back, stumbling into our condo after 8:30 pm (2:30 am in jet-lag time) Home.

We love France, but traveling high season is excessively difficult, stressful, expensive, and unpleasant. It will be a long time, maybe years, before we are ready to do any further vacations involving air travel over long distances. At least that's the current theory.



Copyright© 2004 - Darrell Taylor