Au Revoir La France


La lune filled our hotel room with light in the night–it was the perfect ending to our visit to the city of lights where the sun doesn’t set until 10:00 pm. I woke up craving the apricot tart I had seen in Avignon on Sunday. (If anyone knows a good recipe, please send it.)

We gave ourselves three hours of travel time to get to Charles de Gaulle and board. The round-about at Champs Elysee is incredible–about seven lanes wide with no markings and I think just as many exits. You have to be bold and make your own way, nose yourself into the lane you need. As always, bold/rude is a delicate balance. Todd said he noticed a lot of scratched cars during the trip. The traffic heading into Paris was at least four lanes deep, bumper to bumper, and not budging more than a few inches here and there.

Ailiece (my spelling) who picked us up this morning was subdued and not interested in conversation. It was early. After a while, Todd did ask him his name.

“Ice.” We heard.

“What did he say?” Todd asked me.

“Je ne sais pas…?”, I shrugged.

“ALIECE,” he repeated a little louder without so much as a glance in the rear view mirror. I wondered about his story and what country he was from. Along the drive I noticed what looked like a little Bible beneath the dash and said, “Aliece, avez-vous Le Bible ici?


“Oui,” he turned back to look at me and then broke a smile.

“Moi aussie!” I said. “En ma sac.” I smiled back. A small accomplishment but I was pleased.

After an hour or so we turned off to enter de Gaulle. A BMW ahead of us in the lane to the left needed to get into our lane. The Peugeot directly in front of us was going to have nothing to do with letting it in. There was quite the stand off–really?–and both held their ground. Windows opened and hand gestures escaped. This was the first rude exchange I had experienced during our entire trip. Then BMW tried to nudge the Peugeot onto the emergency lane. Ailiece appeared non pulsed. BMW kept on and finally conceded by entering in front of us. Then BMW hit the gas, taking off right of the Peugeot and made it in in front it. Bravo, I thought in favor of the little BMW. Be bold not rude.

Ailiece got us to our terminal in good time considering. We had no idea of the terminal number we were at but he pulled it up on his phone for us.

As I gathered up my assortment of bags, I found one of Dad’s memorial cards from his service. My parents pictures were on it along with the scripture that was engraved on their wedding rings from Psalm 128:1-4. I stared back at my parents bright faces and thought of all their adventures. Dad had taught us to always be sure to ask a person you encounter their name–we never had a meal in a restaurant without knowing the server’s name. I did it throughout our trip to break the ice. It tickled me that saying “Je m’appelle Deborah,” would get a smile but not a name back. Todd told me to just ask so I did, “Comment vous appellez vous…?” But rarely got a response. Is it rude to ask that in France…? Now that I think about it, I see I had it backwards. Why I would tell someone my name before asking them theirs is beyond me, except that I was in a foreign country and often a little confused.

Anyway, along with the euros, I gave Ailiece the little memorial card, explaining they were my late parents and apologizing that it was in English. He gave me a big smile this time and we had a very warm exchange. I shook his hand and gave him an air kiss–I wanted to hug him but I didn’t. I only wish I had taken a photo of him so I’d have it to keep. It amazes me how quickly I can feel a deep connection to someone and then genuine sadness at having to say goodbye. I’ve always a sense though that we will meet again.

There were long lines and tres beaucoup security stations to pass through. Gates close 30 minutes before departure. We had 20 minutes to spare but agreed that next time we’d give ourselves more time. There was time to buy cafe au laits, a back-up sandwich on crusty French bread, and two little travel bottles of Chardonnay (I have claustrophobia). I thought I had lost my computer but Todd had picked it up while I’d paid for our snacks and was wearing it on his back. That was my only moment of travel panic. It all went well and we boarded in no time.

Au revoir la France. Je l’aime beaucoup.

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