Day 1: Travel and Roissy-en-FrancePosted: June 11, 2012
Here I am. Le Mans Week officially begins. Each great journey, begins with a single step. Today was the first step.
With Dad out golfing with the boys out in East Texas, Mom picked me up Sunday afternoon at 2:30. Perfect timing, too. Lewis Hamilton just crossed the finish line, winning the Canadian Grand Prix. Returning to the site of his first F1 race win, where, oddly enough, Dad and I were there for that maiden victory back in 2007. We’re off to DFW where my chariot awaits. Unfortunately, various mechanical gremlins keeps us on the ground. A new airplane, a new gate, and a new hour later, we’re finally we’re in the air.
I’m sitting next to a quiet French native who was not nearly as engaging as my San Francisco based travel partner from last year’s trip. The in-flight movies are The Vow and The Young Victoria. The Vow cranks up and I plug into my iPhone. Even without the movie sound on, I pretty much nail the plot of the movie. The Young Victoria was an interesting period piece. I wasn’t all that engaged with it as I drifted in and out of sleep. I wake up in time to see the sunrise cresting the horizon, just over the engine nacelle of my trusty American Airlines 767.
The pilot announces we’ll be landing within the hour while the flight attendants serve us breakfast. Before I know it, we’re making our final descent and taxiing up to our gate. Off the plane, through customs, and on towards the baggage area. Five minutes later, here comes my bag. Without knowing where my hotel/apartment has their shuttle pick-up/drop-off locations, I grab a taxi give him the address and we’re off. But not without some drama.
My driver didn’t know where my hotel, Sejours & Affairs, is when he accepted me as his fare. He plugs in the address I give him into his GPS and the French curse words begin flowing off his lips. “Merde! Merde! MERDE!” as he slams his sunglasses down. I’m sliding across the bench seat as he takes the roundabouts a bit too fast for me – and that’s saying something! We find the place and I feel bad for him. I don’t know if he was having a bad day, or if it was because he just picked up this ‘Merican piece of merde and lost out on a potential whale cab fare, either way, I tip him handsomely. 10% of that big tip may have been the hopes that he doesn’t come back here and kill me later tonight.
Check-in here was fairly painless. A quick signature, double-check of my ID and I’ve got my key. It’s a large, 2-room apartment style hotel with a den/kitchen, bedroom, and bath. I give myself time to take a breather and check out the apartment for about an hour. Kitchenette, couch with a flatscreen, bedroom with another flatscreen, and a bathroom with the little flush/big flush feature and a shower with a half-glass door and probably a terrible shower head. Hard to beat. I change clothes and make my way into Roissy.
The other night, Claire and I were chatting on the phone and I was giving her a tour of the city with the help of Google Earth. I show her the Petit Casino grocery and a couple of restaurants I’ve spotted. She finds a crêpe restaurant and the town hall.
Passing by the Aux Trois Gourmands, I take a sneak peek at the menu. They have all sorts of entrée crêpes, but what catches my eye are the desert crêpes. Chocolate banana, strawberry, crème, and I see what I’m looking for.
I’m seated and handed a menu. I’d like an orange crêpe. My waitress looks up from her pad and asks in disbelief: “You want a desert crêpe?” Yep and a cup of coffee. She shrugs her shoulders, says ok, and heads back up front. A few minutes later, here comes a cup of coffee and this delicacy.
It was all I could do not to devour it in one bite. About halfway through, I found myself giggling that while I wouldn’t admit I liked crêpes, I would admit I like really thin pancakes. Google those last 5 words before you ask me to explain. I finish up and make my way back towards the hotel.
Roissy-en-France is a charming French village. It’s remarkably quiet considering it’s proximity to Charles de Gaulle Airport.
It wasn’t until I got back here to the hotel that I realized I forgot to check out the local church. And when I realize it was just a block away from the French IHOP, I had my first of what will be, no doubt, several “D’OH” moments. Maybe tomorrow morning before I hit Paris. I have no idea specifically what I’ll check out tomorrow, but I’ll be in Paris. I’m leaning towards copying, but in greater depth, my day in Paris last year. I’ll add in a few extra stops along the Champs. Either way, I’ll be in Paris.
Since this is a racing website, let’s at least touch the racing page. Andy Blackmoore released his 2012 Le Mans Spotter Guide. You can grab a full resolution PDF here.