So it finally happened, the sad day of May 15 went I took the train to Paris from Valence for the last time. The final two days in Valence went by so quickly and were such a blur of packing that I find it hard to remember them. But I remember saying goodbye to the friends who were still there and having a drive around Valence at night with one of them so that I could see the lights of the city one more time. When I first got to Valence, I couldn’t imagine that I would miss it. It seemed small, sequestered, and unremarkable. But then I made friends, discovered the amazing Saturday market, started traveling around Provence, and it grew on me. Still, I know it wouldn’t be the same once all the assistants had left.
My “responsable” picked me up at the foyer and took me to the TGV station, where I loaded my giant suitcase, backpack, laptop back, and snowboard boots on the train. Luckily, a kind French gentleman lifted my huge suitcase into the only available luggage slot, or else I might have dislocated my arms. Then we sped off to Paris and next I got off at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Here’s where a snag showed up in my plans. I had written down only that I was staying at the Ibis Hotel, not realizing there were THREE in the airport, all with the same name. The information desk was completely unhelpful and there was no internet to check my reservation, so I just guessed on the one closest to the RER station and was miraculously correct. I left all my luggage in my very own hotel room (this is novel for me) and then took the RER into the city where I was going to meet up with my friend Lauren, who had been traveling with her mom and happened to also be in Paris.
While waiting, I took shelter from the rain in a cafe overlooking the Seine with a view of the Eiffel Tower and ordered a cafe creme. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t go near such an expensive place, but this was my last day in Paris! Well, last is relative, I always seem to claw my way back. Anyway, once Lauren showed up we wandered through the Marais and decided to go to the always delicious l’As du Falafel. After, there was more exploring and we meandered over to Bastille and had an ongoing competition of spotting Space Invaders. Oh, Paris, I miss you.
Eventually we had another coffee at a brasserie near Les Invalides so that we could use the wifi to find Lauren a hostel. Once that was all arranged, we saw the William Blake exhibit at the Petit Palais. I had no idea Blake did art, only knowing his poetry. Embarrassingly, the first thing that came to mind was “Dead Man,” but I would be validated at the end of the exhibit where they were playing clips from the movie. Anyway, it was an excellent exhibit and I was impressed with the work, although I think he was a better writer than artist.
That night, we had crepes with a bottle of cidre and then walked along the river. I was reluctant to leave watching the lights from the boats stream across the water under the stone bridges, but I didn’t want to take the RER too late at night and had to think about my flight in the morning. So we said goodbye in a metro station and I went back to the hotel. The next day I flew from Paris, to London, to Chicago, to Oklahoma City, where my brother picked me up from the airport.