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The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned While Living in France

The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned While Living in France.

FROM MY FRIEND Michael and the best blogger out there!!!!!!!! It’s not just about FRANCE either………(but if it’s FRANCE you want, it’s FRANCE you’ll get…….along with a lot of other great stuff !!! )

WE MADE IT !!!!! (Non-rev pure joy )

 early morning in Paris while I toured Roissey Village and Charles de Gualle –


Miracle of miracles – we got seats!!!!  Paris to Detroit.  One seat in the back for me, and one JUMPSEAT!

I am praying like anything, cause I know what a jumpseat is like……and I”m thinking, “Oh dear GOD, WE are SO HAPPY to be on here, but  there’s this phenomenon (when you get older) where you actually have no  derrière –  at ALL. Mine is non-existent and David’s is flat !! – and 8 + hours on a JUMPSEAT………heaven have mercy.   Turns out, fears in vain, he not only got a jumpseat – he got a BED!!! And a “desk” – yes!  AirFrance put him in where the crew normally sleeps.  Is that pretty amazing or what?!?!?

Thanks for all your prayers.  How can you not believe in prayer?!?!    We have been SO fortunate with our flights.


Now sitting in DETROIT, at present.  We may make the SouthWest flight to Saint Louis……..and – may not.

Detroit Financial District viewed from the Int...

Detroit Financial District viewed from the International Riverfront. David Stott Building stands in the distance in the middle looking down Griswold St. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To be continued……………..

HOTELS near PARIS for your NON-REV reading pleasure……….

Written Fall – 2011 – (The ROBBERY STORY at the end of this blog, written as a letter to a friend)

Okay. We made it. . We arrived in darkness.  That’s the first time !- (it’s usually sunrise.) So, 6:30AM Paris time – 11:30PM – CST. It’s overcast and cool and the air woke us up once outside……… There was only 1 seat in FIRST CLASS, so I did the good wife thing and sat in back with my husband – even though he said “GO AHEAD, take the SEAT!” (NEXT time I’m going to think of only myself and take the FRONT!) ha ha. Flt was uneventful.  Which is always good. OH!  I forgot, when you tell the F/A you’re non-rev she not only comps you wine, she brings you several bottles. We’re writing a good letter on her, minus the comp-ing. After an aeoport train, then hotel bus, we have arrived In our little CHAIN HOTEL (B&B) next to CDG aeroport and also in that group of hotels that are:  Campanille, Pullman, All Seasons,  Park Inn,  Novatel, B&B, Premiere Classe, Etap, Ibis and Best Western. ALTHOUGH this B&B chain IS  the best bargain in ALL of this city, I swear. (Although we’re not actually in the city, are we?)  They gave us an airline discount again – normally the room goes for 50 euros and she reduced it to 37!!! This is unprecedented – as all hotels in Paris are atleast minimum 150 euros a night unless you get a real dive and then you’re still going to pay atleast $120 USD – MAYBE.    The other benefit we received – staying at this B&B is that the shuttle from TERMINAL 3 does cost – but when she saw my Airline Staff Card – did not charge us for the shuttle either!!!  Whoo hoo!!! – we’re both bone tired. When I signed on my macair – with the nice hotel gal  helping me get on WIFI – a huge picture of STEVE JOBS came up with 1955-2011.  I guess he died.  How sad. But what a life. ABOUT STAYING IN ROISSYVILLE – NEXT TO CDG AEROPORT: Most hotels near Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport are reached by hotel shuttle bus. There are seven different hotel shuttle lines serving over 30 hotels. The list below shows how to find the right transport for your hotel.   – for all you need to know about staying in this great little inexpensive area of a Paris suburb! This is one of France’s greatest secrets.  You think there is NOTHING outside this huge metropolis known as Charles de Gaulle Aeroport, but there is! _ An entire village!  A village (from the 12th Century, infact,)( where  that masochistic novel ‘STORY OF O” was written sometime in the 18th Century! ) This village is  next to CDG with inexpensive hotels (comparatively speaking) and very good restaurants!  You must try this if you are on a shoestring budget.  Which we are most definitely. FIRST YOU TAKE THE CDGVAL shuttle train, to ROISSYPOLE, next to Terminal 3.  There are several buses, some in different colors, but all with their prospective hotels on the sides of the buses, so you can’t make a mistake which one to get on.  Silver shuttle vans also serve the Hilton and Pullman hotels. WE got off at the ROISSYPOLE and then took the BLACK bus to B&B Hotel. We had to wait about 10-15 minutes total for that bus.  You can wait inside if increment weather. OBSERVATIONS AT DINNERTIME LAST NIGHT – OCT 6TH 2011 – ROISSY-VILLAGE: There is a gentleman eating alone and he has some sort of beefsteak with frites (fries) and his wine.  After he has finished eating he sits for about 1/2 hour just thinking, musing, sipping his wine….and then asks for the menu back to order dessert.  He spends time with that, and his last of wine and coffee and then gets the check.  Can you imagine someone doing that in the US?  I mean we have appetizer, entree, dessert and leave and it’s a rolling ‘em over mentality – no one SITS for God’s sakes…… a restaurant and has ongoing conversation like it’s happening right here, right now!  I’m so entertained at all of this.  You cannot imagine.  This place was wonderful (Trois Gourmands – Creperie) in Roissy Village – it’s a “mom and pop” cafe and they work very hard. There were about 35 patrons total in this small cafe and it was quite lively. David liked it so much, we will go back there tonight – and have dinner again. I just shake my head when David really likes something, because we’re going to go back to it again and again…. I can see it now……30 years later, we arrive with our little canes and walkers and walk in and exclaim – We came here 30 years ago and have been coming ever since – atleast once a year – and they shake our hands and say how nice it is to see us again, and then I get the menu and say, “Oh, I just want the same as usual” and she looks at me sadly and says, “Oh, Je suis desolate madame, we no longer  have the ennthmal cheese crepe, it’s a new cheese from a modified cow called “skinny cow cheese”  and the crepes are not made from scratch anymore, they arrive in big frozen boxes and we just zap them in the microwave.”  NOT! It’s OCT 7th 2011 TODAY and is IRIS’ BIRTHDAY. SHE IS 1 !!!!! I will miss her party. And I’m sad. OBSERVATIONS ON HOTELS IN ROISSY AREA NEAR CDG: Here are some of the hotels in Roissy Village (next to CDG) where we walked to this morning to do our research.  € is now 1.34 – 10/7/2011 B&B – (where we are)  – normally €52 -double – a night – transportation to and from airport, €5.   We were able to get them down to €38 (including tax) for a double with no fee for transportation back and forth to airport – with airline discount.  Breakfast is extra-€5.95 each. Advantages: inexpensive, clean, nice pillows, big sink in bathroom, nice shower, blackout curtains, WIFI, close to airport & trains, very quiet hotel, large doubleglazed window. Breakfast at €5.95 is not glass and silver, but paper and plenty adequate: eggs, bacon, yogurts, several types of breads, jams, jellies, cereals, several types of coffees, hot chocolate, juices, cereals, milk Disadvantages: small BEST WESTERN – €120 on weekends – up to €450 during week. Discount for airline – €116 (weekend). Advantages: **** star, large room, 2 double beds, impressive dining area, can use your Best Western Rewards card Disadvantages: Expensive (how much time are you spending in the room?) discount for airline employees – pitiful HOLIDAY INN – €150 & up.  Airline Discount rate – €111. Advantages: ****star, large rooms, 2 double beds, beautiful dining area, can use Priority Points Rewards card Disadvantages: Expensive (how much time in there, once again?) Discount for airline employees – not substantial enough NOVOTEL – €109 weekends & up. Don’t know room size. No brochure. Advantages:  ****star, takes  A-Club rewards card Disadvantages:  Expensive. No discount for airline ONLY SUITES – €155 & up Advantages: ****star, large rooms, some kitchenettes Disadvantages: no airline discount, read reviews on Expedia etc. RELAIS SPA: €109 & up.  No airline discount PREMIERE CLASSE – €95 & up Advantages: ***star Disadvantages: Relatively expensive MECURE – €119 & up.  Airline discount rate – €59 ($78 USD) Advantages: ****star, large rooms, nice bar and dining areas, nice bathrooms on first floor, Large Crew Room – first floor,  so very airline friendly,  A-Club rewards card which is also good for Ibis, Novatel, All Seasons, Adagio Disadvantages: Did not see room size, but probably bigger than B&B I suggest reading reviews on Expedia on any of the above hotels, but just remember, you don’t always get what you pay for and you probably won’t be spending enough time in the hotel for you to need such a huge room. Then again, you might.  We make the small rooms work as we only have carry-on luggage anyway.  We can never check a bag due to being airline staff. See my chapter on how to travel teeny tiny small………………… (all over the world) Since i don’t have time to write  am sending what happened to us last night………. (sent to Ian).  Haven’t told anyone else but it’ll get around now It was harrowing………… I will have to write a full fledged story on this – on my blog  – it’s unreal……… here’s goes:     …..and on the 3rd day – – –  of our stay in Roissy – Village: – who’d have “thunk” but Babcia and Papa’O got robbed in Paris.   Yes! All the important stuff: MacAir, Acer and iphone – all taken out of our room. We came in from dinner, noticed it all gone  – Called police. Long story short – 4 hours later – captured criminals,found them at another hotel, with more stuff lots of police, very efficient, gave our statements, pressed charges.  Had to go to this police station then to the GENDARMARIE station……. in the dark misty rain…….like out of an Agatha Christie novel………..very weird……. – we even were confronted with the criminals,(too weird) one old guy kept saying “je suis desolate” – “I’m sorry” I’m thinking to myself, what am I to do? Forgive him on the spot like Jesus did? I actually felt bad for him….. .. SO! Got all our stuff BACK!!! Everything. Came back to the hotel at 1AM & wiped it all down with alcohol wipes.. – changed rooms….   God is good.  We were VERY fortunate,   Added note:   Apparantly they were doing more of this at other hotels…… While giving report in our hotel to police- they got “a radio call” that they had our stuff…… Then – no news whatsoever how they got into the room…. (we have a 6 digit code to enter each day).  Maybe magnetic gadget, – who knows? – they lie, police said……hard to find out.  In our bag of items retrieved were other things that did not belong to us, like a gold watch, earrings, … they had been busy. (We think now it was an inside job – & I was really STUPID for leaving the MAC out on the desk while we were at breakfast and the maid cleaned our room. Stupid stupid stupid.  I’m way too trusting.  The lock was not busted. So……………that’s what we’re thinking and told the GENDARMARIE exactly that.   You cannot imagine the fear that went through us – not just losing the expensive computer(s) but all our STUFF, Financial, Word files, PHOTOS, EVERYTHING……. Have got to back up this computer and his with that “time machine” or some monthly deal where all your stuff is underground in Colorado or somewhere……. Too FRIGHTENING.   Oh we did receive that night comped from the hotel mgr, and a free night’s stay anytime we want ……… Well, I should HOPE so. He also said that since they had no safes, he would personally hold our computers for us next time…….. FINI


….this is not as in “Leaving Las Vegas” – but it’s what we do – as NON-REV’s to get from A – to  – B. 

This will be of interest to anyone that works for an airline and  travels for fun and misery   🙂  and maybe interesting to all  those other “normal passengers” who just BUY their tickets!!

LEAVING MARSEILLE – or the things we do to get home to VOTE – (or the incredible desire I have to see my GRANDS)

TGV IRIS320 Gare du Nord Paris FRA 006

TGV IRIS320 Gare du Nord Paris FRA 006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1)25 Oct 2012 –  Book TGV travel from Marseille to Paris.  Great fare!  Only 153 euros for both of us  to Paris by this fast train – and first class – and senior rates – whoo hooo.

2)Unable to print tickets out on Mac as we have no printer.  Put the convoluted webpage into the memory card.   Take computer down to the WIFI cafe in Cassis.  Spend 45 minutes.  Tickets cannot be printed, only a page showing confirmation number. Drive to tiny train station in our village.   Told by Railway clerk in Cassis , “yes! can get tkts printed at Marseille station ahead of time!”

  1. Drive car into Marseille into thick rush hour traffic and park at St Charles Gare (train station) to print tkts.  Told twice to go to certain location thru double doors, down stairs, to some “cafe” to print.  It doesn’t exist.   Stand in line with other strike victims (trains on strike) and find out that we cannot print tkts till 20 minutes before the TGV leaves the station.  That is too anxiety ridden for me, we need to know for sure that they will take the conf #………and we think it won’t work most likely.  On-line tickets at huge discount have always been a problem with the SNCF.    
  2. Drive back home.  Think about what to do.       Drink.  
  3. Hear from David’s boss  that he doesn’t have to teach Sat – so we can leave early now.  Despite the fact that it’s zero seats on flights, AirFrance still has strike issues, (mais, the trains have settled their strike issues), BUT there is a FRANKINSTORM approaching the eastern seaboard…….(only where USAIRWAYS  flts come in, ofcourse, ) and , our AirFrance tkts are to JFK, so that’s a no-go.  
  4. All flights out of Paris are delayed  Decide to cancel the ambiguous senior fare on-line ticket that can’t be printed out with Credit Card Company
  5. Decide to take train now to AMS to fly ZED  fare ANYWHERE  but the EAST coast.  AMS does not have delays into US, as is showing with CDG,LHR
  6. We will now try  ZED fare to Canada and/or Chicago out of AMS.
  7.   Prices on TGV exHORbitant.   Plan C.  Bus.  Nix Bus. Hours wrong.  Take orig TGV w/discount – to station – try anyway – with fear and trepidation – to  get Train TICKET , last-minute – at the Voie, for 5 euros a piece, (their cost for us not being able to print it) then go into Paris, late night – get hotel. WE NIX THAT thought. –  PS (Remember to cancel this on your VISA card!!)
  9.   woke up at 3:30am – drove into Marseille on cloudy rainy windy mountain rode —
  10. parked at British Council, took bus and then metro to St Charles Gare, (Marseille Train station.) We only have small 22’s (rollerbags) with us.    No line that early in morning!  Great!   Discover that TGV to AMS – out of sight tres cher……so nix that.  Have “cafe creme” and croissant at McDonald’s, get on MAC to look at options, –  find that airfare from Marseille to Paris is also over the top – forget that – back to tkt office.  Buy one way to Paris, 82 euros each,  senior fare on TGV, First class only 10 euros more.  Eureka!
  11. WONDERFUL smooth ride and fast through the early morning countryside of France – mist and huge soft clouds hovering low adding a mythical quality to our experience.  We will need to draw on that image – in the long hours ahead.
  12. Arrive at Gare de Lyon.  Nice being in exciting Paris, but boy oh boy is it COLD!!!!!  Put on my socks as I’m only wearing open toed
     and now look like a COMPLETE NERD  (but my feet are warm)
  13. Head over to metro – to Gare du Nord, our home away from home the last 10 months of living in Paris……..take the RER B all the way to Charles de Gualle Aeroporte! 
  14. USAIRWAYS ticket counter CLOSED  (10 min prior to our arrival) !
  15. Where’s my cigarette!!
  16. Take a deep breath and head over to  – VOILA – the new bathrooms.  This is fun – as we have not seen improvements in CDG in over 15 years.    This makes us happy.
  17. Talk to United and find out that they’re totally full (Tossaint holiday )” yes we know, we know” and then head to Terminal 2 – to talk to the friendly AirFrance Agents.  They also tell us – ever so nicely – “everything is complete – Full” 
  18. discuss options which are as follows:
  19. ====A)Paris-JFK -4 flts a day-all full – but “peut etre” (we’re avoiding East at all costs)
  20. –===B) Paris – ATL – 2 flights a day – full – but ZED from ATL to STL do-able
  21. ==== C) Paris – YYZ – only one flight – and full
  22. ==== D) Paris – SFO – only one flight – and full
  23. ====E)  Paris – DTW – DETROIT –  is “moyen” – (a possibility) – only 1 non-rev listed
  24.  I cannot get RID of these stupid numbers on the left – sorry about that……….
  25. This is our next plan of action…….7AM to the USAirways ticket agent at the CDG Terminal One – location – (and they do say to us non-revs “never expect to get your ZED fare AFTER the flight has left at 12Noon – as we go home”.   So remember that non-revs – you want a ZED fare – go to the airport super early – before the pax even are in line for the 10 + AM flight…….


DAVID JUST INFORMED ME – via his iPOD- that it is THIS WEEKEND that the WORLD SERIES is being played – Game 3 – and guess where ????       DETROIT  !!!!!!!!           Oh Mon Dieu.


WEATHER – and WHETHER you’re the adaptable type – or not so much….

28 October 2012 – Incredibly lovely clear crisp COLD morning in Paris at 

Roissy – Village – next to Charles de Gaulle Aeroporte.  We have left behind – Marseille and heavy winds………

   So, When the laptops, Mac, PC’s and iPhones were stolen……….(last year at this time) 


We received a free night at the hotel called “B&B” – in the ROISSY area next to CDG aeroport.  We did recover ALL of our things and that whole story is in another blog.  It was a horrible experience, but we were very lucky.

see blog:  

 (…ading-pleasure/  )  written in 2011

SO,  back to today’s news:      

Since we had not had a chance to return to this wonderful little “B&B Hotel” in Roissy for a year now.   When we approached the clerk at the hotel he said that our voucher had EXPIRED.   David explained that the manager of the B&B had come to the hotel during our crisis and said that he had to put a “date” on this voucher, but that we could use it ANYTIME.    That didn’t do a bit of good with the person standing before us, and he honestly couldn’t  do a thing without a manager’s approval. The manager was “out”.   It ‘s a weekend !  Ofcourse he’s not here.   

David says something to the effect that he has continuing nightmares about the robbery……and I stomped on his toe.   I whisper, “David!  Forget the drama!” 

The nice man, our hotel clerk, clicks more on his “ordinateur” and we continue to wait….to see if it will magically accept the number on the voucher .   David continues his saga of …..”and my therapist said that I should go back to the place where I have had my recurring nightmares, to get over this ……”   I just roll my eyes.  

Needless to say, we decided to go to another hotel (there are beaucoup hotels in this Roissy – Charles de Gualle area) and basically, I recommend this area.** (See my blog above on this report), but be ever vigilant, when you have expensive electronics, find a hotel with a SAFE, or, hide all of your electronics if you go out of the room for any reason.  Better yet, take them in a backpack where ever you go, if there is no safe.   That’s our suggestion, and that is now what we do.   I prefer the safe in the room, but we cannot always get a hotel with a safe. 


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ANYWAY – got up at 6am this morning, a lovely morning, I must say,  to get my CDG-DTW (DETROIT)  tkt (ZED fare) done – 130 euros – not bad – and now we are praying and hoping to get on that one flight at 1:45pm

Paris time.  If not, we have the ZED to JFK, which in no way do we want to really try, but since it’s our only other ALTERNATIVE today, (if DTW doesn’t work out) then – we try it.  My fear is getting stuck with the “FRANKINSTORM – Hurricane – whatever hitting the EASTCOAST.   

That’s where we are presently.  We cannot believe the other weather conditions hitting the border areas between Germany, Switzerland and France (heavy snows) and that this is vacation time for French people and everyone seems to be getting some sort of surprise in their vacation plans.   Those heading to the south of France to escape COLD PARIS and Northern areas, are coming into heavy winds and rain.  Those not planning to SKI in OCTOBER, actually could now, and those trying to get to the East Coast of the United States will be arriving during this “catastrophic storm” as the US meteorologists are calling it, and those going to Western Canada are hit with a 7.7 earthquake off British Columbia, and those heading to Hawaii are expecting a SUNAMI because of the earthquake.  Holy Moly!!!!

** It’s 10 euros one way to get into Paris from here, if you have a day or a stopover, so it’s not  cheap transportation wise, however there are buses, and they are slow, but inexpensive.  

Thanks for keeping in touch with this blog………..we will update as WiFi is available.

MG/28 Oct 2012

Again – the link to hotels for non-rev’s traveling to Paris:…ading-pleasure/

WHAT? You’re not in PARADISE?!? (Well, atleast you’re not stripped of your entire mountaintop life & title!)

People may ask me,  “Why are you sharing this personal part of your life, on a blog that anyone can read……”  And my answer to that is: ” This is the reality of living life the way we are – An adventuresome couple,  in the most unbelievable place of our dreams – dealing with the awesome and then,  not so much.”  Because, in truth, no matter where you are in life, physically, or mentally, the blues can settle in. Some say,   “Suck it up and go on”. My friends in Paris would exclaim..”Marti, it’s been a constant gray drizzle since September!! -And  you’re in the glorious SUN by the Med??!! – GET A GRIP!!”   Then there’s the writing down of things – perhaps,  using process of elimination lists, and if that doesn’t work, try looking at photos and see which ones make you cry.  Then, you might be on the right track.

Amidst the stunning vistas, glorious art work, magnificent architecture, crazy, luny adventures, and price-tag reporting of things in France,  I,  – me, –  moi, your writer of this blog,  am/is  suffering a severe case of the blues.     Just to note, during these times,   I’m thankful to God for my life, for all that I’ve been blessed with and even for the blues……….it’s hard to do sometimes, but I do it anyway…….           

Iris turned 2 this month, and to me,  it was momentous  – alas, from afar.

PLUS,  I’ve had a very good friend visit me here in Cassis where we did a thousand things  – all the way along the Cote d’Azur, ( the  French Riviera,) to  Saint  Tropez , Monaco, Monte Carlo,  and even into Italy.   But  I  have to say – – – I   almost got back on the plane with her this morning – across the big blue ocean – to visit my home in Saint Louis to get some major cuddle time with Iris and play time with the other 3 incredible grands.

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I miss them so much my heart breaks.  I also miss Charlie.  (My cat.)  This is the other side of the coin in being a “fun loving senior doing the out of the ordinary – living in France kind of life.”   For when you do something this audacious, moving 7,000 miles away, across the Atlantic and sitting close to the Mediterranean ,  no matter how beautiful it really is – there is always that tug at your heart for what you have left.    Yes, there is work here, Yes, we need the income, yes, we tried to get hired at our ages in the United States of America, and NO, neither one of us could find those jobs, but they existed here – of all places.  (What my husband has accomplished here with the job and the ensuing bureaucracy , he deserves some sort of medal.  I could never be here without him and what he has accomplished!! Whew! )  And, I could easily leave parts of where I live in the US behind,  but  I cannot leave my children and their children without it causing me sadness many times.    So, children, if you are reading this, take it to heart……YOU  ARE   MISSED!!!!!     I also miss my neighbor and my few friends.  I’m also very sorry about the verdict coming down this day on Lance Armstrong……….sad sad.  Sometimes persons‘ woes are infinitesimal small, some are tragedies, some are deeply personal, but all are the biggest thing to the person that is experiencing it.  It’s not comparable.

Just wanted to put that out there.

That’s all she wrote on this day, the 22nd of October, 2012.   

Oh, and the “list”

Things I Miss – 

1) Larger living area,  2) easy to access music  3) English-speaking movies on demand-Netflix 4) memory foam topper  5)reasonably priced face creams (nix that  – my friend just brought me a BUNCH!!)  6) my large kitchen  7) a comfortable big couch

Things I don’t miss:

The STUFF in my house,  the COLD,  the media/political garbage,  the garden upkeep, (my knees thank me), the reality that I never walk when I’m back at my home,  driving absolutely everywhere

Things that make me cry:

Photos of Iris and the other 3 grands,  Charlie (the cat),  the kids



There are no photos with this blog, so just use your imagination folks……cause here’s the JOURNEY!!!!!


You know, when it comes to renting a car these days, it’s pretty easy, right?

Not so fast there sweetheart!   Because renting a car in Marseille for our journey along the coast was supposed to be an easy task,  alas, it was just the opposite.

Imagine an AVIS Car Rental place in the heart of Marseille.

Hmmmm.  They have all the right information from the booking from the US, they have our card number and they have now given us the car of our dreams……..a large FORD- C-MAX…….not sure what that is in American standards, but FORDS here are half comprised of GERMAN elements and are very very well built.  Except this one.


Our first and most important pre-check when we got in our lovely car was to test the RADIO.   Being music deprived for a year and a half, one wants to establish good listening for the long trip ahead.  Lovely sound.  Check one.  Then the brakes, the windshield wipers, the lights, seat adjustment, mirrors, etc.


On our way to L’Estaque to take some beautiful photos of one of the prettiest ports north of Marseille, we, (me and Sharon)  decide that we can’t go a moment longer in our dream car as we needed to pee.  Badly.  We stop at a side road market, but of course, there is no TOILET.  Plenty of fresh fruit, and bread and cigarettes to sell, but no toilet.  While Sharon is inside finding out this is a “NO GO” I am playing with my GPS trying to get the lady with the British Accent to SHUT UP because frankly, I am tired of listening to her.   I know about where I am.  (about).  When I go to test the GPS, the battery is on zero and I can’t figure this out as we have been driving for half an hour with it plugged into the “Cigarette Briquette” (Lighter) to no avail.  It’s not registering.

I then try the real cigarette lighter, push it down, waiting for it to POP UP as cigarette lighters are known to do, but alas, no popping.  Plus, it’s now stuck.  It won’t budge.  I know it must be “dead” so  I go to the back seat and try the auxillary lighter, but it’s dead too.  Hmmmm. Sharon returns and spends about 15 minutes trying to pull the dead cigarette lighter out of its cavity.  Finally it budges.  We call Avis to tell them we have to return the car.  I move the gear shift to reverse to get out of there and head back to the AVIS  near the airport. THe car won’t go into REVERSE, any way any how, at all, even after Sharon trys it for (another)  15 minutes.  We still have to pee.

Finally, Sharon gets the bright idea to PUSH this car back, – BACK , with her little body – yes, this huge SUV –   so that we can atleast go FORWARD.   It’s very comical, and I can’t stop laughing, and we do eventually  find our way out of this side road market (with no toilet. )

But then, I notice a lovely venue over looking the whole of Marseille through lovely old Roman like arches and pull off to the side of the road so she can take a beautiful snap shot.     She gets out, takes her wide angle photos and I snap mine admist strong winds and dropping temperatures.

When we try and leave we notice a car in front of us so that we are now stuck as we cannot go in reverse.  But!  There is a man in the car!  Excellent!  And we go up to the window and I say to him……..”Monsiur, Bonjour!  Je suis Americane  -and I have this car – this VOITURE, in which  I cannot put into REVERSE,”- but didn’t know the word for reverse, so did the sound effects of reverse ( I just made it up) and he laughs and tells me the word for reverse and gives me a lesson on some other french words that I was getting wrong and finally, he realizes that I need him to STOP the LESSON on FRENCH and just  PULL  the heck FORWARD so that I can get my car out and along the road and to the AVIS dealership.  He obliges, we pull this mammoth car out  and thank him with a strong honk of the horn and a very American wave that says, “Yes, we’re crazy and we like you so very much for putting up with us  and our bad french and for – (especially for )  – MOVING your car forward.  Now to find the Marseille Airport like they did in ions past……..without a personal navigation system.
We succeed.


When we arrive at the Avis Car Rental, we explain the problem with the auxiliary lighters not working – and how we needed to plug our GPS in them and our phones, etc and she nods, then proceeds to give us a new car.  We also told her that the REVERSE was not working .  She then tells us that we must pull UP on the gear shift ball thingy  and we look at her and say “PULL UP?!?!?”  – So I go back out to the car and try it, and alas, there is NO WAY that I would have ever figured that out.…….and she says to us, “Yes, how would you know……you’re American” (sort of in those words) and I say, “Yes, how WOULD I have known that, — it would have been a good thing to TELL me this, don’t you think?” But, alas, no.  We are given an even bigger SUV now, and the fun is just beginning.


Miss British Tom Tom takes us back to our home, but not before sending us in the worst possible traffic in the middle of rush hour through the heart of Marseille.  If you know anything about how I would never drive in PARIS, but did actually have to  in order to buy a new GPS 7 weeks ago…….you will now know when I tell you that driving in Marseille is actually worse than driving in Paris, trust me, it sincerely is.  This is when you want a TINY car, not a huge SUV but somehow navigated around the slim streets, the stopped vehicles in the middle of the street and countless pedestrians and motor cycles despite it.  What a challenge, to be sure.


We have our new car, and it arrived in Cassis without a scratch. Not sure how that happened but we’re grateful.  I won’t mention the amount of cursing and gear shifting and revving my car that I did, causing all the very loud motor cycle drivers next to me to stare  as though I were in some kind of competition with them.


It’s all good.  I’ve finished a bottle of wine, made my apologies to my good friend who had to take the brunt of my hysterical rantings and ravings,   and she praised me anyway for a driving job well done.  Now that’s what friends are for.   Pass the wine……The Mistral is due in tonight………..oh la la la la la…….





“I’m Bond…..James Bond,” he says – (the man who popped up in our face from depths below)

My friend Sharon is the ultimate photographer.  I schlep my body with her everywhere while she turns countless dials on her fabulous camera, sets up the tri-pod(s), squints obsessively into the lens and brings forth the most fabulous photos of this area that I live in, called Cassis.P1120950

Many venus are hard to get to  and some require sitting (me) on little boulders that are even with the  already rocky soil, so that means that getting up is almost out of the question.  

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I’m not twenty, but you already know that.   It is at this moment, (when I push my body into an ever embarrassing position just so that I can get UP) that  one realizes the impending reality of knee replacement surgery.

Anyway  – the climbing, the walking, the visuals of what we see when we find the exact location – is amazingly interesting and so very beautiful it defies comprehension

Have you ever seen somewhere -especially a place you LIVE, through someone else’s – (not just EYES)  but their LENS?  It’s the most amazing phenomenon.  You swear those places in your own town, never existed, or if they did, they  certainly couldn’t have been HERE -but alas, they are here and you are seeing them for the first time.  It just never occurred to you to see a mountain cliff, in the mist, with hanging clouds, just in that way before.  Nor has it occurred to you that the weeds in front of you, with just the right light, and just the right amount of fluffy clouds padding the background, and the crispness of the weed, which is really not just a weed but a beautiful discovery of

 Leuzia Conifera

that this is what really looking at and seeing nature,  is all about.

But what was really surprising is the guy that popped his head up from the mountain cliff while my friend was in deep concentration snapping shots of the enormously huge drop below – of sea, mountain and rocks.   This climber just popped up from NOWHERE!!!   It scared us to death and then we laughed because it was just so unexpected.  He saw our surprise and as he continued clipping his belt clips to various hooks in the rocks ahead, looked up at us – just his head mind you, sort of just “floating there”  while the rest of his body dangled precariously off the cliff, and said to us………My name is Bond…………James Bond……..

Perfect line……..           

Perfect perfect line!!!!

We just died laughing

and then shot as many photos of this “james bond” that we possibly could.

Here is the outcome.                    (Second Climber)

Cafe Etiquette – Ecole – and Life before Dawn

The walk to the bus in Cassis, before dawn, is  ALL uphill and quite the cardio-exercise………It’s a lovely view at the top where I wait for my bus. I see Cap Canaille and the sea from the stop.


The La Gineste bus makes it to the top of the hill, overlooking the sea, and  picks me up as I stand waiting patiently with my backpack necessarily keeping me tall. Since I wake up before dawn,  I have  no coffee, so I just go back to sleep on the bus with occasional views of the sea, and the incredible view of Marseille’s port from high high up as we descend into that old city.  It’s beautiful.   At 7:50AM the bus drops me off at  Perrier Prado as I join the throngs of  young students stepping down very quickly off the high steps onto the sidewalk.  I’m not so fast, but I try and act like I’m just like them.  When the boys behind me, wait, and let me go first, I know that they know that I’m not young like them.   It makes me smile and I’m especially grateful that they are so considerate.

It’s so early and there’s another hour before class begins so it’s a great time to scout the markets.  Most of the time they are just setting up and I wrote earlier  about  how hard the vendors work to set up their wares.  It is most interesting to watch.  Baskets, brik-brak, sheets, towels, soaps, plants, hardware, buttons, ribbons & bows, plus an entire block devoted to shellfish and fresh fish….. fresh cod, sardines, sole, all carefully displayed on large displays of crushed ice.  I scout the tables, the prices, buy a ” un drap” (sheet) make a mental note of other great prices and move on.

The street (Prado) is bustling with people going to work,  students, some with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, most of them hand rolled. After the  recent huge tax increase in cigarettes in France, it would make sense.    We all wait at the corner for the light to change.  Some cross before the little green man comes out, but I swear I haven’t been able to navigate how to cross that street while the little man is still red, so I don’t do it until he’s green.  These walkers have done it so long that they have the timing all figured out.  My senses tell me “Don’t even think of stepping out there until your “green  man” is visible, Marti!!”

Walking past out- door cafes, pharmacies, and towering buildings whose “le rez de chausse” often doubles as an office front and entrance to other apartments above it.  The amount of people living in one square block of this city is huge.   Then the sidewalk becomes steep and I walk around some dog poop, but less than in  Paris (so far), I must say,  and around the corner to Rue Paradis and Rue Perrier.  PAUL occupies the entire corner, with an ancient fountain, tables and chairs, but it’s also shared with chairs from the other cafe, so if you buy your expresso from PAUL, and sit in the WRONG chair, you will be asked to move – to PAUL’s table and chairs.  They’re very nice about it, but they’ve had to ask me twice now. ” Oh!  Je suis desole!”   I exclaim, and they “de rein” me up one side and down the other, like it’s really no big deal, it’s just something they have to say…..all in an early morning rapid swipe of tables  and chairs and wisking away the previous customer’s breakfast crumbs.    I swear, I’ve never seen waitstaff people move so fast as they do here in Marseille and in Paris!!  It’s a ballet to be savored, all of it’s own!!  Since I’ve also worked as “wait-staff” I especially recognize them and appreciate them!!!

When I go to the “correct table” – the ones that say PAUL on the seatbacks, quite loudly,  I sit with my order of “The Express” (1,60 – or 1 euro 60 centime) .   Sometimes, I order the Le Parisian, which is more oooh la la-ish, as it consists of  a cafe creme grand, which I order with “creme doubler”  and the fancy croissant (any one I like in the glass case) to go with it. (2, 40).   This, I have yet to calculate with “My Fitness Pal” App , and frankly, I really don’t desire to find out.   The one I usually order is  “The Express” which is simply an expresso, in a tiny porcelain cup, ever so cute, one tiny cylindrical sachet of sugar, which I pour only half,  and one of the plain croissant’s, nevertheless, caloric rich worthy.  I eat it very very slowly.   Nothing small lasts a very long time here at one’s table,  and since the coffee is tiny, and the croissant is tiny, my bites are even more tiny.

This way, it will last me a good 35 minutes because that is what I have now, until my  Alliance Francaise secretary shows up to open the door.  In that length of time, I browse  the free “20 Minutes” news, or “La Provence”, look over my French notes, and watch what seems like the entire world walking by my little table, 6 feet from the organized chaotic traffic; I know an oxymoron…but true.  The street gutters are being washed at 8:10 and they’re sweeping the gutters with the water – – moving the trash down down down.  It’s not as bad as Julia Child described in her book  “My Life in France”, but there’s still a lot of trash.

So, it’s a beautiful change in transportation here in the South, down to Marseille, and a beautiful ride back home, up the mountain, round and round – jaw dropping views —— to Cassis.

Cassis From Cap Canaille

Cassis From Cap Canaille (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quite different than Paris, and the Paris Metro. It was dirty in those metros, mostly, and you felt like you must wash your outfit each day that you rode the metro.  But that soon became a ridiculous idea, as you couldn’t wash your outfit everyday in a Paris apartment, plus,  one  actually became immune to the massive amounts of humanity.   And then, Paris – is Paris.   Ahhhhh

My mornings are sometimes difficult to maneuver, that early alarm clock, when my husband has exact opposite hours, teaching late night hours and not arriving home to our little apartment until 11PM,  but it’s all worth it – bigtime!

I especially love sitting at that cafe early morning waiting for my French class to start, the noisy traffic, the signs of Prefecture, Alliance Francaise, the Big Green sign for the Pharmacy, the lovely old fountain across from my little table.  When I enter that ancient tall building holding a lot of students from all over the globe trying to learn the French Language, I am so incredibly grateful for a chance to do something I have wanted to do my entire life!!!!!  I love learning this language, no matter how difficult it is some days and the people who are in my class are fun and young and we laugh a lot when we work  with our “voisin” -( neighbour),  – on various exercises and questions.

As Julia Child would say “Bon Appetit” before savoring that first succulent morsel of food,

I say , before starting my class each day   – something very Existentialist –

Je pense en français;  donc je suis.             I think in French; therefore I am.

or should it be:   Je pense; donc je suis  français             I think;  therefore I am French.    🙂

ALLS I KNOW (as they really do SAY in MissourA) is that on the French Comedic Sitcom tonight, I laughed out loud, because I actually understood the French subtitles!!!!!   HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You think because you’re in EUROPE, the TRAINS always run on time……Not so fast there Sherlock


The first 2 weeks of David’s new job, and in our new home, outside of Marseille, I waited and waited for my husband to appear in  our cozy abode – from his stimulating job of teaching adults English.  He never appeared.  Well, he did, actually, 4, 5 or  6 hours later………….Because the trains, at St Charles Gare, in Marseille, were undergoing a huge schedule change, unbeknownst to the traveling public.  To even GET to the ST CHARLES STATION in MARSEILLE from the BRITISH COUNCIL, he first had to get the guard to take him to the metro stop.  That happened …….ONCE.   The guard decided she didn’t want to be a guard anymore and never showed up at work  after the first 2 nights.  The 2nd guard, a nice french gentleman, David walked along side him  to the metro as he had no car (either) , but alas walked so tres vite that David could hardly keep up with him.  That ended that.   David just walked the long trek from the school to the metro  from then on and then entered the St Charles station where he was told (the FIRST time,) ah,….we’re sorry………there is no train……we have a bus coming for you.   Thus, 3 hours later, David arrives at the tiny station in Cassis, got to our little apt,  and he is now exhausted, but home.  The second time, the station manager apologizes profusely and now gets a taxi for the travelers /commuters that are waiting.  The (several) taxis take the customers from Marseille, to Toulon, Aubagne, CASSIS,  Les Ciotat, etc.  David arrives home around 1:30am.   The third time, there is no train, again, there is no station master, there is nothing.  Just a whole lot of commuters waiting to go HOME, and now the only way they will get there is to take the first early morning train, and that is at 5:30am.  David literally spends the night in the station with the most unsavory characters imaginable, even to the point of the deaf and dumb girl sitting beside David for protection from a “stalker/drunk” and David is thinking,”OH dear God, what in the world……..” ……….After being thrown out by the Gendarmarie (twice), the drunk never shows again.  Well, all the commuters make it on the train at 5:30am and David got home at 6:00am in time for me to be out the door for my suburban bus to Marseille for my French Class.

Ahhhhhhhhh………………..Life……………….Transportation………………………..what you must do to get from A         to            B…………when you are without the convenience of a  C   A    R .             Amazing.

Needless to say,  We have a CAR now………..David has begun to accept that he must drive our little,   very used car all the way down the mountain into Marseille, from now on, in order to get to his job and to get home.  It’s a bit hairy at times…….especially with the Evil Knevil motorcycles racing around him at EVERY sharp turn……and then returning at night.  It’s  best if there’s a full moon, because otherwise it’s really dark up there, — beautiful, but precarious.   There  is an alternate route, albeit much much longer, so , I always pray for him to have a safe trip.   

This is my 100th post.  I have a secret to share for you but you’ll have to wait………..I’m telling  a story – a true story. It will probably be attached to “Pages”, so look for it there.

Till next time……….

Tout a l’heure!!!!!!!!

Thanks for reading.

And thanks for signing into WORDPRESS……..where, I     GET       CREDIT         IF        YOU    SIGN    IN!!!

Love you all




These are photos taken from 1) when I was a flight attendant on an Embrarer 50 seater,

various cars we liked,  and = actually not sure how Stonewall Jackson’s daughter got in there or the pic of me and David in front of the White House, but needless to say I didn’t TIME TRAVEL to 1875 nor did I go back to DCA in 2006, alas, they are in there and I’m way too tired to try and take them out of here.  So



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