After we settled in it was a typical transatlantic flight - read a little, eat dinner, try to sleep, read/watch a movie, try to sleep a little more, have breakfast and before you know it 7 hours have past and you are landing. One note on the plane. It was a new Airbus A380 the biggest and baddest plane in the sky right now. It had two decks of people and massive wings. Truly an engineering marvel.
Upon arrival in Paris is was foggy to our dismay but we found our way through Charles De Gaulle airport with relative ease (Rambler Hance's Travel Rule #10 - if you have seen one big international airport you have seen them all). After hunting up our baggage and tracking down an ATM machine (le distributeur automatique de billets) we headed off to Hertz. I have to admit, since joining the Hertz Gold Club I have been nothing but thrilled - until now. First, we did not get the Mercedes C Class we thought we had reserved, they tried to give us a Chevy van type SUV but we finally held out for the Volvo. Hertz negative points for the experience.
Once we procured the car, a nav system and all the insurance required Rambler Hance did some quick math and determined your ramblers could have shipped one of their cars to France for half the price. But twenty-five years of love knows no bounds so off we went. After circling the airport three times because Gabrielle (our French GPS voice) kept telling us to turn left we finally got the translation parsed and went straight, but tilted left, and exited the airport. Vive le France!. Lets just say when 90% of the road signs are unintelligible a GPS is a wonderful thing. As we cruised around the Paris beltway and headed southwast towards Tours here is one American's initial impressions: they farm in France - a lot, they are the kings of graffiti (Paris is littered with it and other towns can be as well) and the roads are top notch although the speed limit moves up and down all the time. Oh and the toll booths take credit cards but not mine evidently. We stopped for a bladder break at one of the regular gas, food and facilities locations along the French equivalent of U.S. interstates and verified another of Rambler Hance's Travel Rules (#3) - that is even optically great looking French sandwiches bought at a Tigermart are mediocre at best.
After a three hour tour across southwestern France we arrived at Tours and Rochecorbon more explicitly. We checked into the hotel and our cave room and then broke the cardinal rule of transatlantic flight, we took a nap rather than powering through until the normal local bedtime. Some things can't be helped. A little exploring in the local town in search of a snack and a bottle of wine was largely uneventful and we retreated to our hotel for dinner at their four star restaurant. Initial impressions of French dining: Presentation is VERY important as is food quality but dining is to the French what running was to the Greeks, a marathon not a sprint. We were clearly the geeky American tourists because we took pictures of all our food and so far almost everyone we have encountered knows way more English than we know French. When in doubt we have found a pleasant bonjour and merci plus fingers for courting goes a long way. Below is displayed some of the beautiful food we had our first night. Rambler food rating a 5 star (U.S. scale) but we will rescale upon the visit to Paris. Stay tuned!
After eating all that food and spending 3 hours doing so it was time to hit the hay. With Day 1.5 in the books the tally was in: 400 km driven, 6200 km flown, awake for 36 hours, ate one incredible meal and your Ramblers had descended on France.
Tomorrow we are going to the Abbaye Royal de Fontevraud where my people the Plantagenet's are buried.
Until then au revoir and keep rambling.