This weekend my parents came to Paris! They rented an amazing apartment in the Marais, right near the St. Paul Metro stop. It had an elevator and a dryer which a huge deal, by my apartment (/homestay) has neither of those things. Needless to say, I lived like a queen for a week!
While my parents were in town, we did a lot of shopping, eating, and a bit of sightseeing, as Goldbergs do. We went to the Bonne Marche, Galleries Lafayette, explored the St. Germaine neighborhood, went to a farmers market (duh), and explored Ile de la Cite (specifically Notre Dame and the Jewish WW2 Memorial). We went to Sacre Coeur and the Montmarte. We explored the Marais more and of course, I took them to my favorite falafel place.
Since my parents have actually been to Paris many times, there was no need to do all the main touristy-things.
The real adventure, however, took place on Saturday. It was a beautiful day in Paris so we wanted to take advantage of the weather and venture outside of Paris. We decided to go to Fontainebleu Chateau, which is about 45 minutes South East of Paris. We looked up pictures, it looked beautiful, so we decided to go. We looked online, figured out which RER trains to take, and it all seemed pretty easy.
When we got to the train station, we went to the ticket counter to triple check what stop to get off at and he said “get off a the Fontainebleu Stop”. We boarded the train and rode it until we heard the announced on the loud speaker say “FONTAINEBLEU”. Naturally, we all got up and went to the train doors to get off.
As the train pulled up to the stop, we looked around and were surprised it wasn’t a big train station, just sort of a dirt mound and hiking trail map. IN the back of my head, I remember my host mom saying that the whole magic of Fontainbleu was walking through a picturesque forest on your way to the chateau, so I just went with it.
We jumped off the train, onto a dirt platform with a few other people. We looked around and well, there was forest, that is for sure. Besides forest, however, there wasn’t much else, which was slightly concerning. By the time it even crossed my mind that we might be at the wrong stop, the train was long gone. The few other people that had gotten off the train with us were dressed like they were planning on being in nature for the foreseeable future. We looked at the hiking map and as you would have it, the chateau was on the map… but a five mile walk away.
Since we didn’t know what else to do, we started following a couple into the woods towards what we thought was the direction of the chateau. After about 25 minutes of walking, we hit a highway. My dad debated just walking along the highway or hitchhiking, but the highway was winding through the woods and the cars were whipping by us. We turned around and went back to the train station- if you can even call it that.
We waited for about 30 more minutes and 1 train whizzed by, a 2nd train, a 3rd train. Was this even a legitimate stop?
We opted for our last option, to walk to the right train station… 5 miles away. (Mind you, we were NOT in hiking/nature clothes). We decided it would be best to follow the train tracks, as it would absolutely lead us to the next stop. We walked for about 2 hours to the other Fontainbleau stop and by the time we got there, we were all starving. Good thing none of the restaurants in town were open. We walked around town for another half and hour, only coming across a Tabac (think French 7Eleven), to get water and a baguette and got RIGHT back on the train to Paris.
Overall our journey to Fontainbleau didn’t go as planned, but looking back it was pretty funny. I didn’t end up taking any pictures that day because I think we were all a little sensitve.
The rest of my time with my parents was spent walking around Paris and going to dinner. They left really early Sunday morning, only to be replaced with Lena’s best friend from home coming to visit.
We picture up Lena’s friend from the Metro, got coffee, wandered a farmers market and then went to Versailles.