A Travellerspoint blog

Climbing to the Top of the City of Paris

The First Day

View 1964 Ship Follower on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Arrival - Thursday, July 16, 1964

We got to Paris about 0720. I was to leave on the afternoon train going to Spain, and I had to change train stations

Once in Paris, I kept having the feeling I ought to look under the bed and my Ventura [a large shoulder bag which held my camera, London Fog raincoat, toilet case etc, which my mom loaned me] seemed lighter, but the compartment was so crowded that I didn't.

Breakfast in the Station

I tried to go out to the subway, but they would not let me out without showing my ticket and it didn't dawn on me what they wanted. Besides the station was full of Parisiennes rushing from the suburbs to work like lemmings.

So I had two croissants and coffee in the station for 2.5 F including tip, and bought an orange for 1/2 F and a postcard and stamp (1.25 F). THEN I looked in my Ventura to put my orange into it and it suddenly dawned on me like a flash, that I had left my toilet case on the train.

SO I went rushing back for it and luckily the train was still there. The case had slipped behind the bunk and was hidden from the front by some kind of heater. My pocketbook was too big for that.

When I got off, I found out from the man at the gate where I had asked if it was the same train that I could check my suitcase to the other station for 2.6NF. So I did. I kept the Ventura with me. I'd be more mobile without it, but it won't lock.

Lost In Space

This was later in the letter.

The most hair-raising tale I have skipped.

I saw an SNCF hostess and asked about a tour of Paris ($3 plus and 3 hours) and a Wagon-Lits to Madrid. She said to go to the other end of the station. I did and the man there said to wait until 0900. So I went to a ticket window, and he pointed across the way. I went there, and they directed me back to the 0900 man.

At this time, a second man came in, shook hands with his co-workers and told me that the Wagon Lit were 45.9 F. Couchettes were back at the second place. There after a little consultation, I found that there were no couchettes, so I went to change a $10 travelers check to pay for the W-L.

THEN I discovered that my change purse was gone and with it my Eurail pass!! [Note: This was a pass to ride on the trains as much as I want for a month and it cost $130.00]

So thinking that I was either having a very unlucky morning or a real workout, I rushed to where I had been at the other end of the station. The man there told me that he had taken it to the hostess at the other end of the station..

I got it back intact, except that I am missing 10F and maybe that is where it went. I guess I'm lucky. I found I hadn't filled out the ID card and the only place my name was, was on the Eurail pass.

[My mom's comment was that she hoped these two incidents would really teach me a valuable lesson. I think I might has still been a little jet lagged.]

Morning Sightseeing

By now I had figured out how to get my Eurail pass out and display it and so was able to pass the barrier.

I bought a carnet of Metro tickets (3F) and went to Notre Dame. I walked around and then paid 1.15F to go up in the tower, which I found to my distress was STEPS [I don't know what I thought it would be]. I was so weak when I got down that I went to a nearby cafe and had a coke (1.5 F with tip).

Then I walked to another Metro station . I bought a package of airmail envelopes (0.9F) on the way.

I went to the Arc de Triomph and paid another 1.5F (in each case the 0.5F was the permission to take pictures), and waited in line for the elevator.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

On the back of this card, I wrote to my daughter

Dear Daughter

I am now trying to get a Wagon-Lit from Irun to Madrid. I have had breakfast (2.50 F) and checked my luggage to the next station (2.60F) & found my toilette case which slipped behind my bunk & I had to go back to the train for it. I had a good night on the train. I missed our cousin in Frankfurt, but I talked to your aunt on the phone.

I didn't have any luck. No bookings from Iron at this end. I almost left my pocketbook in one of the inquiry places. I have climbed 400 steps to the top of Notre Dame (2.55) and am now on my way to Eiffel Tower.

Love Mummy.
The stamp said "Republique Francaise Postes" on the top, the price was 0.65. The bottom said "Dinan" and "Valle de la Rance". The picture included a bridge.

The postmark had a cross and an outline of a nurse on it and said "Devenez ....Des Horptaux__De Paris

By the time I got down it was noon, so I got a taxi (for speed) to the Eiffel Tower (3.7F tip included) and went up (5F) to the second stage.
Going up the Eiffel Tower in 1964 - France

Going up the Eiffel Tower in 1964 - France

The line for the 3rd stage was so long I knew I'd never make it, so I bought a popsicle and came down (1F). A waste of 2F.

Leaving Paris

I got a taxi to the station (5.6F plus tip), and secured my bag. The baggage clerk gave me a leer but he showed me where to mail my postcard. Then I panted out to the train. [Keep in mind that there were no wheeled bags in those days, and I was carrying all my luggage.]

I ate my orange (very good) and got a ham sandwich pus orange drink (2.7NF) for lunch as I was too slow on the draw for the dining car. [At that time there were about 5 NF to $1.00]

I am in a no smoking car and this train is really an express. It doesn't stop anywhere between 1345 and 1800. There are two Frenchmen in my compartment and a girl who smokes Viceroys. I think by that and her watch that she is an American, but she has only spoken French so far.

The Spanish Railroad has really managed to get everyone fouled up. No one could reserve a seat, and yet they are all reserved. I think I have sat in one that is not taken. If worst comes to worst, I will get a W-L for the rest of the trip. The later [farther along] it gets the lower the price gets.

Three Star Dinner

There is a hot breeze. The dining room steward came through and gave me my ticket. My eating today so far including tips has cost about $1.50. I ate dinner in the dining car and it was expensive because the chef was a three star cook, but it was good (18.5F)

The dinner started with noodle consume. I got a half liter bottle of mineral water which was halfway cold. I was so thirsty that I drank 2. Then we got fish, but I couldn't translate what kind. It was boneless and done in butter. Then we had jellied chicken and vichysoisse salad. The latter was boiled potatoes, stiring beans, tomatoes in quarters, black olives, lettuce and anchovies all done up in olive oil, vinegar and garlic. We had a hard roll of course.

Then they came around and offered yogurt with sugar, which I took to see what it was. If you didn't get yogurt, you got cheeses. I knew it was yoghurt because it wsa printed on the top. With sugar it looks like cream of wheat. A little anyway.

Then we got dessert, which was either brandied cherries in ice cream or fruit. I took the ice cream, as I am not up to peeling and eating a peach with my knife and fork in public yet. Then we got coffee plus liquor if we wanted, but I didn't as that was all extra.

As it was, with 2 bottles of water and service charge it came to 24.2F, and I only had about 16F left, so I had to use two $5.00 bills to round it out and got some change back. I felt I owed it to myself however to have something besides coke, coffee an orange and a train ham sandwich while in France.

All my compartment mates on the French part of the train got off in Bordeaux or Bayonne.

pond and sunset from train

pond and sunset from train

Next - traveling to Madrid

Posted by greatgrandmaR 19:33 Archived in France

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