Our 4 Days in Paris
Leaving La Croix du Vieux Pont was a much more straight forward experience than getting there thankfully! We pointed the Hymer south toward Paris and away we went. If I’m being honest, this was the bit I was most concerned about. I did not want to get turned around and lost in Paris driving a 7 meter (23 foot) motorhome. In the short time we’d had her, our GPS and her 100 meter discrepancy did not inspire confidence. Fortunately the camping site was located out of the city center off of the ring road. If everything went according to plan I wouldn’t have the terror of navigating through the center of Paris in our camping car.
Generally speaking, the driving style in France is pretty predictable and good and is exceptionally good compared to Saudi Arabia! I did not see a single vehicle going the wrong way in a roundabout (nor have I anywhere else in Europe so far). As we neared Paris, though, things stared to degrade a bit. As the roads got more and more crowded we also started seeing a lot of motorbikes and scooters and they generally were unpredictable, especially in heavy traffic. Having lived in Southern California for so many years, I am used to lane splitting but it is a bit more concerning when you’re among the widest vehicles on the road.
Things never go according to plan but somehow they did this time. Very lucky for us. The Navagatrix (Shani, not the GPS) was able to decipher the tangle of streets and we arrived at IndiGo Camping with slightly frayed nerves but everything else intact. In a funny coincidence, we were passing Charles De Gaulle Airport about the time her parents were touching down. We could have picked them up but sorting out the logistics of something like that is a little beyond us at this point. (We later learned John lost his suitcase so they were in the airport much longer than planned!)
We settled into our campsite without any issue. It was the first day the ACSI discount applied at this site and Shani was a bit concerned about availability but there were plenty of spaces and we only had to spend 19 Euros a night! IndiGo Camping Paris is a really nice facility, everything was well maintained and very clean. They have a shuttle bus that goes to the closest metro station and from there it’s about 20 minutes or so into the heart of Paris. Dogs are allowed for free on both the shuttle bus and the metro. (We chose to put Sebastian in a bag for ease, especially when it got busy.) Once we figured out the metro system it was very easy to get in and out of the city. All things considered, we were very happy about our campsite and the location. Paris day 1 mission accomplished. We walked to a Carrefour and provisioned for our stay.
Our plan for Paris was a full day on Tuesday of sightseeing with Shani’s parents and then a half day Wednesday and Thursday as they had pre-scheduled some tours. In a happy coincidence, our friends from Saudi Arabia that we met up with in the Baltic were also in France and we were able to meet up with them as well on Wednesday morning. But back to Tuesday. Shani had done some research and decided a neat way to take in the sites was the Batobus, a water taxi that allows unlimited hop on and offs at all the major sites along the Seine river. This turned out to be brilliant as the weather was a bit hit or miss and we could leisurely cruise from location to location and choose sightseeing or chatting from the comfort of the boat depending on what the weather was doing. Also dogs are allowed on the boat (for free). Adventure dog got to see the sites of Paris with us.
Shani and I had both separately been to Paris previously and were happy to just take in the sites and not go inside (plus, as dog friendly as Paris is, Sebastian was still not allowed in the Louvre! No viewing of the Mona Lisa for him; he probably wouldn’t be all that impressed anyway.) We bought a 2 day pass for the Batobus, it was only 2 Euros more than the 1 day. I can’t recommend the Batobus enough, it is a really great way to see the city and offers some unique views from the river.
Her parents were staying near the Saint Germain Batobus stop and so after we met up with them at their hotel we made our way down to the boat dock. We hadn’t seen them for about a year and a half and it was really great to meet up in Paris. The day started off a bit overcast but slowly cleared up. It was really awesome to see Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower from the boat!
At many of the stops I was a little surprised at the lack of street food vendors or open cafes. I seem to recall that there were a ton out and about years ago when I first visited Paris. Maybe it was because it was the off season. What was around definitely had tourist prices (I did find a croissant for 1 Euro near Notre Dame a day or two later). The Saint Germain district had a lot of restaurants and the Notre Dame area did too but we found ourselves quite a way from any of those as lunch time was approaching and then passing.
As finding food is always an issue we got off the boat near a mall thinking this would at least have something for Shani to eat. Near the mall there were a few restaurants but nothing was really calling her name. And then in a stroke of good luck I spied a shawarma restaurant in the distance. Shani loves shawarma. Although we thought we ordered a shawarma, we did not get shawarma. Instead we ended up eating a type of chicken curry and some soggy fries in a parking lot waiting for the next Batobus to show up. The glamor of eating in Paris at its finest! (In case you are wondering, shawarma is like donner or gyro meat roasted on a giant spit and shaved off into pita or similar bread and served with a garlic cream sauce)
Our next destination on the Batobus was the Eiffel Tower. There is quite a bit of security these days around the tower and dogs aren’t allowed past the guards and metal detectors so we opted for some photo ops and were content to view from outside the barriers. We didn’t realize until later had we gone around to the other side there was more park space available instead of just tacky souvenir shops.
We continued on to the sites on the boat and off the boat for the rest of the day, ending our tour back at Saint Germain. We made sure to enjoy some wine at one of the wonderful streetside cafes. We misunderstood the timings of the shuttle that would take us back to IndiGo Camping and so we had to rush back before dinner thinking we might have a bit of a walk on our hands. As it turned out, we had enough time and the shuttle ran more frequently and later than we had thought.
The next morning we met up with our friends Sunny and Todd and we all hopped on the boat to chat and catch up while taking in the sites of Paris. Todd actually had his phone pickpocketed and noticed almost right away and was able to get it back, he confronted the girl and she returned it. She was posing as a petition signature worker asking people to sign. We saw a lot of them at the major sites and I can’t imagine they are all thieves but it was a good reminder to be vigilant!
That afternoon, we did some more Batobussing and walking and Thursday entailed more site seeing with Shani’s parents and we actually had proper meals in proper restaurants!
Sebastian was a tired little guy after all the walking and shuttle bus and metro and boat rides. We put him in a shoulder bag and he seemed pretty content to just chill. Overall, he’s done really well and I think all of our dog trainers from the past would be pretty surprised.
And that was our trip to Paris. We had a really good time with Shani’s parents and staying at IndeGo Camping turned out to be pretty convenient. The weather turned mostly sunny for our stay which was a very welcome change from the rain and mud of the previous several days. Having bid au revoir to our friends and family we pointed the Hymer south towards Veron and our French agent Phill to see about getting our rig properly registered and insured.