The first time we arrived in Paris by Eurostar (a great way to get from London to Paris), we stepped out of Gare du Nord and looked helplessly at what could have been our bus sail past… perhaps a taxi would be a better option to get to our hotel with our luggage anyway? (Our hotel?: Citadines Montmatre – relatively economical and a great location if you don’t mind being next to a cemetery!)
I had heard that in France you’re not allowed to flag down taxis but we couldn’t see a taxi rank. So when a woman came up to us offering to help and even assisting with our bags we gladly followed her… literally just around the corner, but then, with outstretched hand, she demanded €20 payment for her services. I reluctantly handed over €10 which was the smallest I had on me (the exchange rate was appalling at the time and I grimaced at giving away near on $20) and vowed not to fall for that one again.
On our next trip to France (to take possession of our house!) we flew into CDG and took a airport-Paris shuttle bus (Les Cars) to Gare de Lyon thinking that it would be easier with all our luggage than battling the trains, and then we could walk across the bridge to Gare d’Austerlitz where our train down to Argenton sur Creuse departs.
Only a short walk really, but with 4 suitcases and an assortment of other bags, coats and cameras, and being understandably weary from our long flight it just seemed too difficult, so a taxi ride it was – only just managing to fit our bags in the boot and front seat. Of course the driver wasn’t too thrilled at the short fare, but was helpful all the same. (Now we know that what we should have done was to take the RER train – so much quicker than the bus – from CDG to St Michel Notre Dame station and simply walk across the platform to catch a train to Gare d’Austerlitz for our connecting train, or even better, take an SNCF train direct to Argenton… though I’m not sure how often these run – we’ve only managed it on one occasion, besides, whenever possible we like to spend some time in Paris on our way through – who wouldn’t?)
Anyway, arriving in Argenton, we dragged all our belongings up the road to the estate agent to collect our house keys – very exciting! – after which she kindly rang for a local taxi which turned out to be a mum driving a people-mover van… with her kids on board! Bizarre.