We made it to France. 🇫🇷 😀
I’ve always wanted to visit France since taking French in high school and college.
We took the Eurostar train from London to Paris which was a good experience. The St. Pancras train station is nice with plenty of shops and restaurants.
I bought a cup of organic coffee, figuring I could bring it on the train.
However, we needed to go through a security check before boarding the train.
Turns out, very cool… They actually had a cup holder in a security bin for my drink. It went through the security system along with my bags and electronics. :)
Once we landed in Paris though, it was a bit confusing. We needed to get on a train to get to a little town outside of Paris and it required buying tickets from a kiosk in Paris.
I was under a bit of stress after having landed in a crowded train station where everyone is speaking French and I speak a little but definitely not enough. I have a young daughter in tow, always a bit stressful on travel days, we’re lugging heavy backpacks and a suitcase, and there’s many blog posts warning about pickpockets in Paris. Plus, we’re on a timeline with people expecting to pick us up at our final destination. People who don’t speak much English.
Needless to say, I was bit overwhelmed, as I expected.
We made our way to the ticket buying area.
The ticket machine wasn’t clear to us and I finally gave up, needing to just take a break and breathe when a kind French lady offered to help. Whew!
She took me through the steps and we had tickets in hand. Then, we had to find the train which wasn’t too hard, but not easy either.
Finally, we made it on the train, crossing our fingers that we took the right one. Moments later, the train filled with more people and we were back to back standing in a crowded train, again, while keeping an eye on bags, purse, camera, luggage, child.
Thankfully, we made it to the town where we’re staying which is Mitry-Mory. It was too late to get a lay of the land, but I immediately had to wonder… “What are we doing?” It seemed a bit desolate, which isn’t a huge issue but when we had plans to rely on public transportation for getting to the store I knew we’d be on another steep learning curve, especially it all being in French.
We had little food with us, it was evening so places would be closing, and we were across the street from a bus stop. Problem was we didn’t have any Euros 💶 – whoops so the bus wouldn’t be an option.
How about Uber?
Yes, there are Uber cars available however, but our cell phones weren’t quite working and we feared getting out to a store and not being able to get an Uber back home.
I had a small exciting moment of foreground panic while my background was chilling, surfing the metaphysical waves of uncertainty.
We dug into the snacks we had on hand: chocolate, canned mackerel, nuts, cookies, and raisins – thinking this could be the last meal we have for at least a day. (We arrived on a Saturday and I’d heard most places are closed on Sundays leaving us until Monday if we didn’t get food squared away on arrival day.)
Jacked up on shitty calories, we decided we might be able to get a pizza delivery. Google maps featured a Dominos nearby but it didn’t work because we think we’re still a bit too far.
Time was ticking to when we thought stores would be closing. We saw on the map there was a McDonald’s near the store we wanted to visit. We considered that maybe the McDonald’s would have wifi. We could get groceries at the supermarket and then pop to McDonald’s for the wifi to hail an Uber back.
I called McDonald’s:
Me: Bonjour, parlez-vous Anglais?
Person at McDonald’s: Hmmm NO!
Me (in a loud and slow voice, thinking it’ll make a difference): DO YOU HAVE WIFI?????!!!!!
Person at McDonald’s: Hmmm NO!
Me: Merci, au revoir.
Not sure if he really understood, but thinking the word “wifi” was maybe universal it might work.
Ok, that plan wasn’t going to work.
No pizza. No supermarket. What next?
We learned there was supposedly an ATM about a 10-minute walk from where we were staying. We decided we would go get money to at least have that. And we were hoping if there’s an ATM there might be some sort of store or food to be bought.
Upon getting closer to the downtown area of the village, there is indeed a bit of a town. We came upon a few restaurants and a tiny convenience store.
We wouldn’t starve!
The tiny restaurants were a sight for sore eyes. We chose one and devoured Turkish kebabs and pizza. Grateful for the food, not caring a whit of what it was made. We quickly made friends with one of the owners. He spoke a very tiny bit of English, basically none, but we managed and then he excitedly tried to teach us French. Kamea got such a kick out of this and it greatly inspired her to want to learn the language. It was one of my favorite experiences so far.
Then, we popped into the convenience store for a reconnaissance mission and found dairy, produce, eggs, pasta, wine, and plenty of other things.
We wouldn’t starve!
We could go the whole two weeks in the village without getting to the bigger supermarket and be just fine. Phew.
The next morning we ventured into the village with excitement and gratitude over our treasured findings.
Life in this little French village would be just fine.
As we made our way to the end of town, where the convenience store was, we were crossing the street and I saw two sets of people coming out of a building with fresh baguettes. 🥖
Be still my heart.
I looked up at the sign on the building…
Cue the angels and singing… a patisserie and boulangerie.
Clearly, we would MORE than survive. We would thrive and dance.
I. Bought. My. First. Truly. French. Baguette.
Life is good.
We went in and my French started coming back to me. I bought two loaves of bread and one baguette, still warm that we tore into as we walked out of the store.
Then, we went to the convenience store and bought:
- Canned mackerel (awesome and actually healthy!)
- Tomatoes, bananas, garlic, oranges, lime
Yes, we would survive, thrive, and eat well. Who doesn’t love scrambled buttery sea-salty eggs and grilled cheeses every day alongside canned mackerel? And coffee. Frugal and convenient.
Obviously I’m won’t be eating a carnivore diet here, though I can have some egg-mackerel filled meals.
We’re actually feeling a bit confident.
We’re going to attempt the bus system tomorrow, now that we have euros, and check out the bigger supermarket not too far from here.
That’s what this is all about.
We’re stretching our brains and souls, putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations to learn and experience things we’ve never done. Meeting people, learning languages, and grabbing a hold of life.