Our First 7 Days in France: A Tale of Two Bags

First 7 Days

France…

Land of wine, cheese plates, cafès, beautiful parks, the iconic Eiffel tower, museums, history, art, lovers, magic…and now, lost luggage.

It started off as a typical travel hiccup. We wait at the baggage claim for an hour. No bags. Bummed but not too concerned, we make a claim, give our address to Air France’s bag service and start our adventure.

Day 1 – 3: Paris

France-Trip-2014-Jedd-and-Michelle-01What can I say about Paris? Aside from the crazy traffic and impossible intersections, I love it. Old, beautiful history everywhere you look- full of details. In the center of the city, building after building could easily be the most iconic building in a city in America. Here, it’s just another building. Michelle’s Uncle gave me the condensed history of France in our ride from the airport to their flat in Paris. Will need many years of studying to fully grasp everything he shared. Her Uncle (Michelle’s father’s brother), is originally from the States and has been living in France for over 40+ years after moving here after college. He met a wonderful Parisian woman and raised their family in Paris. They’ve been incredible hosts and introduced me to the ever-important cheese plate course. I asked, “Are baguettes and cheese each day a typical thing in France?” Answer: “Yes!” Me: “Awesome!”

We spent the next couple of days walking around the city taking in many iconic sites. Had dinner with Michelle’s cousin and his girlfriend, and randomly, got a surprise reunion with a college friend I haven’t seen for 7 years. She saw that we were in Paris on FB and was heading there for vacation with her family during the same weekend. Sometimes social media is awesome.

Bag situation at this point:  They told us that the bags would be delivered to Michelle’s family in Paris on the third day but could not guarantee a time. Knowing that we had plans to visit the French country, we called Air France and asked if it could be delivered there. They said, “Sure.”  

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Jumping Jedd at the Louvre
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Locks at “Pont des Arts”
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The iconic Eiffel Tower
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Awesome building at Luxembourg Park
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Michelle’s cousin, Benjamin, and his girlfriend Laura

Day 4 – 5: Chinon/Vezières

We headed out to the countryside to visit Michelle’s family’s country house. Apparently it’s typical for people living in Paris to want to get a way from the city and head to the country for weekends and holidays. Chinon/Vezières is known for their wine. While many things in France are expensive, wine is not, and the wine is very good. I was amazed at how quiet everything was. Peaceful. Very peaceful. You drive through one small charming town after another with old historical buildings and incredibly narrow streets. Each town has a couple of bakers, butchers, and wine shops. Simple and beautiful. Perfect.

Bag Situation:  So here’s the start of things going downhill. We leave Paris to drive to the countryside and about half-way there we receive a call from a delivery man saying that he’s in Paris at Michelle’s family’s flat. We are very confused because we gave them directions to the country house. Being that he’s just the delivery man we are told to call Air France. They look up in the system and are confused why the deliveryman went to the wrong address. Because it’s now the weekend, we are told the bags won’t be delivered till Monday. Because of our plans to keep traveling, we are forced to give them another address. Told it will be delivered on Monday. You see where this is going. Thankfully, Michelle’s Uncle and Aunt speak to Air France on our behalf. We are lucky to have their help. 

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Country house
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One of 71+ castles/chateaux in the area
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A typical, small town square
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An American ex-pat country home
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Enjoying the cheese plate with Michelle’s Uncle and Aunt

Day 6 – Current: Chateau La Celle-Guenand

Michelle had made arrangements for us to go to another part of the French countryside to work at a chateau in a town called La Celle-Guenand.

Chateau La Celle-Guenand: http://www.chateaucelleguenand.biz/

We are blown away as Michelle’s Uncle pulls into the courtyard of a fairy-tale like castle (chateau) in the middle of a small town. It’s hard to describe how incredible this place is. There are caves and tunnels under the chateau that date back to the 9th century. The chateau itself is from the 15th century. Surrounding it are buildings such as a barn, garages, old stables, etc… that make the grounds feel like a small town itself.

We are doing a Help Exchange experience here. For two weeks, Michelle and I will be doing 6 hours of work a day in exchange for room and board. It’s a neat way to learn more about a place (we get to see a lot of things that guests do not), and a cost effective way to stay in an area. Had it not been for our bags, we probably would have had more time to explore the area. Thankfully we have the weekend coming up.

Bag Situation:  So things go from bad to worse. The bags don’t show up on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Each day we are told that they promise, it will be there. Each day Michelle’s Aunt, our host, and now our host’s assistant call Air France to find out what is going on. The latest we just heard is that they subcontracted the delivery and, actually, do not know where our bags are at all. 

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The view of the chateau from our apartment
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From the bottom of the courtyard looking up
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The back view of the chateau Bed and Breakfast
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The corridor bridge thing
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Exploring the underground tunnels and caves

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So that’s been our first 7 days. It’s been quite an adventure in so many levels. We are super frustrated about the bags, not because we might have lost all of our things (because in the end, they are just things). But more because we’re done with poor customer service, apparently being lied to, putting Michelle’s family and our host in the position of helping us, having to figure out how to replace things, and finally, getting Air France to do something about the situation.

In the end, we are still very thankful for this opportunity to live and work in France. Today is day 8 and there are still many days to come. Who knows what will happen next. Maybe we’ll get our bags back. Someday.

Till next post.

-J


 

Learn more about our first Help Exchange and how it works here

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One thought on “Our First 7 Days in France: A Tale of Two Bags

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  1. Looks like a super fun adventure. I love the history that you just can’t get in the US. The help exchange sounds cool. Is it a good value though? I mean, between the two of you it’s 12 hours of work per day just for room and board. I guess it could be depending on the type of place you are staying and it sounds like it’s a really nice place. Anyway, just curious about that.

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