We brainstormed a few choices - Fontainebleau (but I've already been there), Giverny - where we would bike from the train station in Vernon to Monet's house and beautiful garden, or Chartres - a supposedly charming little town with a very large cathedral.
We decided on Giverny with the bike ride being the main attraction but when we called Monet's house and the dame started talking about large crowds and lignes d'attente, Copain called Belle Mère who advised us to avoid the crowds and go to Chartres.
It was 9am - the train was leaving at 10.33 from the Gare Montparnasse. We totally had enough time. But then I had to use our new epilator on my legs so I could wear a dress. And by the time that was done, I still had to put on the dress and do my makeup. By the time we left the house we were running to Metro line 1 with only 35 minutes to get from chez nous to la gare. Oh la la - yeah. oops.
We were thinking positively - we even made a no-fighting pact for the day - things were looking up. Line 1, Line 4 (complete with THE SMELLIEST HOMELESS DUDE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD - I almost dry heaved). Then BAM - Gare Montparnasse! We had already come to the conclusion that we wouldn't have time to buy tickets and that we would have to do so once on board. No biggie. We ran through the gare, up the escaliers, jumping over suitcases and herds of new tourists just arriving in gay Paris. Three minutes to go...
We spotted quai 20 and ran towards it just as the bell started to ring! Copain asked the cheery SNCF worker if we could purchase tickets on board to which he answered by shaking his head - Non.
Never one to follow the sort of rules put in place by the SNCF (or the RATP for that matter), Copain ran down the quai, prepared to jump onboard anyways. But then we stopped in our tracks - the train was PACKED. When I say packed, I mean, all seats were full and people were standing packed in like sardines in the common area between the cars. Every. single. car.
We gave up. We laughed - we had made it just in time- but we would not be going to Chartres.
As we walked through the gare deciding what to do with our day, we realized that it was ridiculous to try and leave Paris without a pre-paid ticket on a holiday weekend. The rest of Paris had decided to do the same thing and it was everything but a holiday on that train. We decided to do only things we had never done in Paris for the day and here is what we did...
We walked down rue de Maine and found a very cool bonsai store - one of them was selling for 1400 Euros. That is some serious zen.
Then we stopped in at the Montparnasse cemetery where the likes of Simone de Beauvoir and Samuel Becket are buried...
We walked all the way to Avenue de General Leclerc, past the metro Alesia (where I popped into a store to check out summer dresses - no luck). We walked all the way down the Porte d'Orleans and then crossed in front of the impressive Cité Universitaire ...
This is one of the oldest houses on the campus (nothing like the craphole I lived in when I first arrived in Toulouse - scary Chapou!!)
Finally we went to Franprix and bought a picnic complete with baguette, ham, chèvre cheese, grated carrot salad and frozen fruit (my favorite!) for dessert. We found a nice little bench at the Parc Montsouris (and it was such a beautiful day that I didn't even mind that much when I snagged by dress on a nail in the bench and ripped a hole right in the butt).
This was our lovely park view - with Spring in full effect- as we enjoyed lunch...
little girls in Easter hats, little boys in capri pants, parents on picnic blankets
We decided that (despite public opinion) Paris is a great place to be for Easter - and that we will probably never try to leave Paris again on a holiday weekend. Better to let everyone else leave so that we can enjoy the city - all to ourselves.