Two hours in Paris


After booking my flight to Amman over the holidays, I realized that the layover on the way back was five hours long.  As I’ve never been to France, I started fantasizing about leaving the airport and heading into Paris for a short while.  I checked out a lot of travel blogs, and the consensus was that five hours was really pushing it, and that you needed closer to seven hours to be sure to make it back to the airport on time.

Armed with that information, I headed to Jordan assuming that Paris just wouldn’t happen on this trip.

The night before leaving Amman, we headed back to our hotel to shower (wash Petra dust off) before our 24 hours of travel.  At that time, we learned that our flight from Paris->SFO was delayed, turning a 5 hour layover into a 7 hour one.  Once I heard that, all I could think about was escaping the airport and finding my way into Paris on the RER-B.  I’m fairly certain that all of the other TechWomen mentors thought me insane on the way to the Amman airport when I talked about this– until I said that I had never been to Paris.  Then it all made sense, even though it was midnight and we were only going to sleep 4 hours on the plane.

Most of us were asleep by takeoff, so we got in a bit of sleep.  By the time we arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport,  5 other intrepid travelers had decided to join me for a couple hours in Paris.  Among them was another woman who had never been to Paris, a woman who had studied in Paris and was fluent in French (our tour guide, extraordinaire), and 3 more who hadn’t been in a little while.  We cleared Immigration quickly and began our journey into the city.  After an airport train, a bus ride to the next RER-B station, and a ride through the suburbs, we arrived at Saint Michel Notre Dame, headed for the Sortie and voila!  We were in Paris!  And right around the corner was this view of Notre Dame Cathedral.  Incredible!

Cathedral Notre Dame
Cathedral Notre Dame

Then we went to a cute little restaurant for some breakfast and conversation.   I had an Omelette Fromage et Jambon (thanks to my gluten-free diet I’m not supposed to eat croissants), a Cafe au Lait,  and Champagne and everyone else had the French Breakfast- fresh squeezed orange juice, Cafe au Lait or tea, and a bucket of (delicious) bread (croissant and baguette), and Champagne.  It was a good meal with excellent company.  We even had a very charmant waiter, Francis.  He was also a tiny bit stereotypical– he grabbed my bum when I got a picture with him!– but gave good advice on the menu and spoke French to our crew the whole time.  It was a lot of fun for our fearless tour guide!

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Me, enjoying a Cafe au Lait

After breakfast, we walked around the 5th Arrondissement a bit to get a flavor for the neighborhood and round out our 2 hours in Paris!

A street in the 5th Arrondissement in Paris
A street in the 5th Arrondissement in Paris

We then headed back  by train/bus/train to the airport, where I bought some fancy macarons in the remaining time before our flight.  Mmm…

The train station where we transferred to the RER-B
The train station where we transferred to the RER-B

What a great layover!

Any great layover stories out there?  I’d love to hear them!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Holly KN says:

    A few years ago, Kee-Min & I were on our way back from Singapore, flying to LA. We were flying through Narita (Japan), but unbeknownst to me, he’d booked us with on a flight that came into Narita around 9AM, while our flight to LA didn’t leave until 6 PM. He had a grand plan to go explore Narita City. I had a carry-on bag to tote, and was exhausted from our trip, and just wanted to get home.

    Truly, I just wanted to sit in the United Premier lounge, eat the food there, use their WiFi, and *chill* until the last leg of our journey. But, out of spousal obligation (I knew how much he wanted to go), I went along. When we had to fight the machine for a train tickets, I grumbled and stomped. Finally, we were made it to Narita City….and had an awesome 4 hours. We ate tons of food (some of the most delicious red bean pancakes I’ve ever had), ramen, freshly roasted chestnuts. We watched two employees at a grilled-eel restaurant kill and gut the live eels with precision and grace. We wandered the cobblestone streets, and explored a (possibly tourist trap) temple. It was awesome, and I’ll never turn down a layover-out-of-airport excursion again! 🙂

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