TechnomadicsVagabonding Europe

Having stayed in one spot way, way longer than we’d anticipated in Champagne, it’s time to move on — Katherine, the designated travel researcher, proposes Paris as our next stop. I find a place to stay, a caravan park about 12km from the city centre, and at a price point we can stomach, and we head south.

On the way we stop off to do some shopping (and eat baguettes and brie afterwards!). After we’ve eaten, we watch as a woman pulls in beside us, locks her car, and strides off to the supermarket — as her car rolls forward, handbrake off. I leap out and stop it rolling, and Katherine chases off after the car’s owner. Some bystanders find something to put under the wheels of the car so I can stop holding it, as Katherine returns alone, reporting that when she told the woman she’d left the handbrake off and that her car was rolling across the car park, she had replied “c’est possible.” (it’s possible), and continued, untroubled, on her way!

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We shake our heads at the weirdness of other people, and head onwards. We stay overnight at another “camping a la ferme” site in the middle of a tiny village, and pick up a bottle of very home-made cider from their little on-site shop, full of bits (and tasting a little of soil!). The countryside steadily becomes more suburban as we head closer to Paris, and soon enough we’re surrounded by dense suburbia and traffic.

We’re a bit dismayed to find the suburb in which the campsite lies is a rather dismal suburban wasteland. Luckily, as we we pull into the campsite in Neuilly-sur-Marne, we find it located on a leafy island on the startlingly green Marne river. It’s not quite central Paris, but it’s green.

We go through some very serious bureaucratics at reception, and are shown to our site, green and leafy, but — despite my spending hours up on the roof with laptop and antenna — devoid of any useful wifi signals — uh-oh! After a bit of back-and-forth with the local SFR telco shop, trying to get ourselves a 3G connection at astronomical cost, I’m disappointed to find the SIM card I’d bought, the only viable option for us, didn’t work in my iPhone — apparently it’s iPad-only. With it looking like we were going to be cut off from the outside world (not an option for me, while running an online business!), we were saved at the 11th hour by an act of astonishing kindness — the guy in the SFR store called his mother at home, retrieved his ADSL account information, and gave me his username and password to use his free, unlimited SFR wifi hotspot access!

We find ourselves suffixing sentences with “in Paris!”. It makes everything more exciting (in Paris).

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