rouen and home

We slept wonderfully in our beautiful little cabin, and the following morning we waited to see the other Canadians emerge from breakfast before we ventured out. I was amazed that my mother also didn't like them: she is so much friendlier and less curmudgeonly than me.

We ran into them briefly, and we both had the distinct impression that they had been waiting to see us before they left. And there's Elisabeth, wearing a Maple Leaf pin! These people must travel with a bag of Maple Leaf pins to distribute! Yikes.

Breakfast was the usual deliciousness of mini baguettes, croissants, homemade jams, butter and cheese, and this one included apple cake and chocolate cake. I cut a slice of each for Connie and she did not protest!

We asked Elisabeth to take a picture of us together and I got a few of the garden and of our host. Elisabeth called a taxi and he took us right to the restaurant, where the polite and attentive Mathieu took our suitcases and said he would see us for lunch.

The restaurant was on the Place du Vieux Marche, the square where Jeanne D'Arc - known to us as Joan of Arc - was burned to death. In the square, there is a church built as a memorial and tribute to the Girl Who Saved France. It's a huge wood and glass structure that, depending on who you ask, looks either like a Viking ship turned upside down, or a burning flame. Throughout the unusual and asymmetrical architecture, there are references to flames and fire. The interior is very sparse and clean, with bright stained-glass windows.

We hung out there for quite a while. I'm sure my pictures of it will suck - it was so hard to break down into compositions.

We walked around a bit more, ducking into a few stores. We used a toilette in a McDonald's, and learned the code for access to the washroom is printed on customers' receipts. I asked to see someone's receipt. Catching the door before it shuts is another method.

When it was time for lunch, our friend Mathieu treated us like visiting celebrities. For starters, Connie had large shrimps with an avocado sauce, and I had a proscuitto, parmigianno, and arugula concoction on mille feuille. Then Connie had le lapin and I had gigot d'angeau with fresh peas. And this was the best meal of the trip. The lamb might have been the best I've ever eaten. Literally literally.

Connie had riz au lait (rice pudding, kind of) for dessert and I opted for cheese: a selection of rich, smelly cheeses with quite a bit of red wine.

Mathieu offered to call us a taxi and retrieved our bags. Of course I tipped him for his trouble and attention, then wondered if I should have tipped more. I gave him 10 euros. This is a country where you don't usually tip. 20 euros seemed a little crazy, but was 10 enough?

Because we didn't have to spend time retrieving our bags, we decided to take an earlier train back to Paris. Good decision (and it was the same deal with tickets: no questions, no problem). We also decided to take the RER (commuter trains) to the airport. I've read that traffic to the Paris airports is often impossible. We didn't want to sit in a cab in traffic and stress about missing our flight. My only concern was that our train from Rouen would get into Gare St. Lazare and the train to the airport leaves from Gare du Nord. We needed two different RER lines, and would the transfer between them be accessible? I wasn't able to determine that before we left, but while there, I confirmed that the only fully accessible RER lines are the ones we needed, E and B. Amazingly and horribly, many of the stations are accessible, but the trains are not! Very few cars have roll-on/roll-off capability.

Our original train from Rouen to Paris left us with two hours to get to our flight. We thought that was plenty of time, but we took a train that left 40 minutes earlier and just made it! What I read online and in the guide book totally under-estimated the time required to take the RER to CDG. There were so many corridors, escalators, and elevators as we made our way from the intercities train from Rouen to RER E to Gare du Nord to RER B. One elevator was out of service and I carried all our luggage down a large flight of stairs. We were on RER B for a long time, then had a very long and circuitous walk (although fully accessible) to our terminal. It was a very long trip amd I ended up sorry to have put my mom through it.  We got to our gate a few moments before boarding began.

Boarding was delayed, then we were none too pleased to see ourselves squished into a three-seater row, in a row with no leg room and almost no foot room. When I saw the flight was not full, I asked to change seats, and a very kind flight attendant gave us our own three-seater. Much better!

Photos of the Church of St. Joan of Arc and the surrounding area are here.

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