As soon as we woke up, we logged into CDG’s website to check on Bev’s plane…..it was 45 minutes late…..not due to land until 11:20. Since we didn’t need to rush to the airport, we browsed CDG’s website looking for parking lots close to 2A, the terminal she’d be arriving at. Armed with this information and now fully prepared to manuever through CDG, we checked out of the hotel and headed to the airport. We were aiming for an underground parking lot near the terminal but, due to a misinterpretation of signage, we took a wrong turn and ended up driving along the terminal instead of under it. Most fortuitously, we found a parking space right in front of Porte 5……directly in front of the Arrivals gate in Terminal 2A! The only downside was the fee…..1 euro for every 10 minutes….but the plane was due to arrive momentarily so we figured we wouldn’t be there long.
Once inside, we read the Arrivals board and saw that Bev’s plane had already arrived! Things couldn’t be going more smoothly. We stopped in at Cafe Ritazza…..next to Porte 5 and right in front of the Arrivals Gate……for a cup of coffee. While we waited, the couple standing at the table near us pointed to a suitcase next to them and asked if it was ours. Not ours…..so we asked the woman sitting next to us if it was hers…..nope, not hers either. At that point, the couple standing next to the suitcase quickly downed their coffee and left, saying, “It’s probably not a bomb.”
Craig and I stared at the beige suitcase standing four feet away from us and wondered how someone could forget their luggage. We couldn’t think of a good answer and, when no one returned for the bag, Craig told the barista about it. She looked at the suitcase, came out to the seating area and went table to table looking for its owner. “No”….. “Non”….. “Nein”….. the suitcase didn’t have a claimant. One by one, with sidelong glances at the beige suitcase still standing nearby, the cafe’s patrons picked up their belongings and left.
The Arrivals board now showed that it would take another 30 minutes before Bev’s luggage would be available. Craig and I walked away from the Cafe and waited near Porte 6…..behind a concrete wall. As we waited, we began hearing announcements in French and English, “Monsieur et Madame Vachon, vos bagages sont en attente de la Porte 5….Mr and Mrs Vachon, your luggage is waiting at Porte 5.” We peeked around the corner and saw four blue-uniformed guards circling the suitcase. It was now near 11:50…..Bev’s luggage should be at Baggage Claim by now so we cautiously walked over to the Arrivals Gate……people with Yankees caps and NYC t-shirts were filtering out. Ten minutes passed…..the men in blue were on their walkie-talkies……Hurry, Bev, hurry!
Darn…..too late! The blue-uniformed guards were joined by white-shirted policemen and soldiers in green fatigues carrying automatic rifles who started moving everyone away from the suitcase…..first to Porte 6…..then to Porte 7……the stores and airline check-in counters along the way had to close and their employees joined in the migration that finally stopped at Porte 8. Firemen from the bomb squad arrived…… their torsos thickly padded. Soldiers, with their rifles at the ready, guarded the exits.
We craned our necks trying to see what was happening but we were now too far away. The announcements continued more frequently, “Monsieur et Madame Vachon, vos bagages sont en attente de la Porte 5….Mr and Mrs Vachon, your luggage is waiting at Porte 5.”
Time was ticking away and the parking fee was adding up…..Craig, hoping to move the car, exited at Porte 9……but the car was in the guarded zone and inaccessible.
The announcements now changed to “Il ya une valise sans surveillance près de Porte 5. Nous nous excusons pour le retard……There is an unattended suitcase near Porte 5. We apologize for the delay.”
My phone rang…..it was Bev calling to tell us she was stuck in Baggage Claim…..her suitcase had been one of the last off the plane and now no one was being allowed to leave the area. I told her she had us to thank for it and relayed the saga of the unattended bag. Bev, normally very gregarious, was unduly quiet…..no doubt wondering who she should be angry with.
Not too long after that, we were allowed to return. I rushed to the Arrivals Gate…..looking over my shoulder to see a sad, little suitcase lying open on the floor with only a lone janitor in attendance…..an very anti-climatic ending to the drama of the past hour.
Bev was one of the first passengers through the gate and, after hugs and kisses, we were in the car and at the automated ticket booth. Craig pressed the “Call” button. A woman answered, “Oui?” Craig said that we had been unable to leave because of the bomb scare. “Oui, Monsieur.” The gate opened and we were on our way to the Loire Valley.
After a three hour drive, we were ready for some sightseeing so we stopped at Chateau de Chambord…..the hunting lodge of King Francois I. It’s a massive, manly chateau with 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases…..
the most impressive one being the double helix stairway designed by Leonardo da Vinci ……its actually two intertwined staircases that never meet. We tested it…..Craig entered one staircase and we entered the other…..never catching sight of each other as we walked up to the second floor.
Touring this large castle was tiring…..before too long, it was time to find our home for the next two nights…..Hotel Diderot in Chinon.
The hour long drive on highways and country roads was pleasant and we found the hotel after making only one loop through centreville (downtown). The 17th century hotel was charming…..with white limestone walls, a black slate roof and a large private courtyard, it looked like a mini-chateau.
It was a short stroll to dinner. The hotel recommended and reserved a table for us at Au Bon France…..a small cafe in the heart of town. The meal was fabulous. Craig and Bev started with a salad (tomato-free for Bev, who’s allergic to them) while I had foie gras. My entree was scallops; Craig and Bev ordered the beef….which came with three side dishes, one of which contained tomatoes. Since the sides were designed to complement each other, Bev was served three completely different dishes…..which, she reported, were all delicious. The desserts were fabulous…..cheese for Craig, five flavors of ice cream for Bev and an apricot tart for me.
Sated but tired, we ambled back to the hotel basking in the glow of French hospitality.
“Everything ends this way in France – everything. Weddings, christenings, duels, burials, swindlings, diplomatic affairs -everything is a pretext for a good dinner.”……Jean Anouilh