A night in Roissy (Ile de France)

We totally knew, going to Brittany over Christmas/New Year, that a lot of tourist attractions would be “fermé“.  Goes with the holiday territory, right?  We were just happy to be in France, eating French food, shopping at French supermarkets etc…  On our way home, we had an overnight stay at the airport as the Air Canada direct flight leaves around 11.30 in the morning and it’s too stressful trying to get to the airport from Paris early in the morning, so we generally stay at the airport.  We’ve had some good experiences with Suite Hotels but this time, I decided to try somewhere different since I couldn’t get a deal on a Suite Hotel room.  We ended up choosing the Park Inn, which had some good reviews on Trip Advisor.  I knew exactly where it was (in the little village of hotels near Roissy-ville) and I *thought* I knew where the shuttle left from.

All was good. En principe, as they say in France.  I was excited to discover the cute little village we had never had time to explore.

Mistake #1: Getting off the Air France bus at the wrong terminal of Charles de Gaulle airport.  I have never caught the Air France bus to Roissy before – we usually get the RER train but we had dropped our car at Montparnasse station and the AF bus was right there. (Must mention here that preceding catching this bus had been a 4 hour speed drive from Dinan to Paris on crazy icy, windy, sunny roads trying to beat the clock so we wouldn’t have to pay an extra day’s rental.  Then I had to navigate us into Paris proper off the periphérique.  That deserves a medal.  Then we had to lug our bags to the luggage lockers because we were going out to lunch and a last jaunt in Paris before we headed off to the burbs…).  Charles de Gaulle airport has a number of terminals and I am just so used to our little routine (have I mentioned that I am Taurus?) that I was thrown with the changement.

So we waited. And waited.  Finally we realised we were not waiting in the correct place for the shuttle.  Headed to where we thought we were supposed to go (a mirror image location on the other side of the terminal building) and waited. And waited.  Then I saw a shuttle going to the same little hotel village but not our hotel.  I ran over and asked the driver if he could take me (ahem  – us) to our hotel.  In fabulous French fashion, he told me that becaause I had a lovely accent he would take me there but would have to drop me next door.  Fine.  Alicia and Neil ran over with all our bags.  Driverman was a bit affronted.

Safely in the hotel, the arrogant desk clerk confidently assured me that the shuttle does indeed leave from the airport – from the “RoissyPôle” terminal.  The one we were not at.  Of course.  THEN, he tells me we have to PAY for the shuttle to the airport in the morning. WHAAAAT?  Since when is the shuttle payante?  Oh well. AND internet was not free. Grrr. At this point we were so tired but grabbed a map of Roissy-ville on our way up to our rooms, planning on dining in a quaint little bistro in the village.

(both of the above images courtesy panaramio.com)

We headed out across the meadows and pastures (seriously, it was manure stink all the way there and there were bunnies leaping across our path) and headed into the town or Roissy.  It was all jollility and Christmas lights (and that piped Christmas music) and we were hopeful of finding somewhere cosy to eat.

For about 10 minutes.  But nothing was open. Nothing.  It was like being in an apocalypse film. You know, where the hero is wandering around the deserted streets of a tiny town.  Where there are no people and nothing is open?  And it feels like everyone literally just fled the town, leaving dinner on the table.  Except nothing was open. Well, except for a tiny épicerie that we ended up going to since we felt the need for a drink and some snacks because clearly we were not having a restaurant meal.  We asked the lady in the store if anything was open and she responded with the classic “Mais c’est samedi, madame, tout est fermé!” (Why it’s Saturday ma’am, everything is closed) as if that was totally normal. Laughing hysterically at this point and clutching our 5 euro bottle of wine and chips, we headed back to the hotel.  But wait…  could it be…

A pizza place?  Open?  On closer inspection, the even better news was that we could get 2 pizzas for the price of 1:

In we went.  Along with the whole rest of Roissy, it seemed.  At this point, desperately needing a swig from the aforementioned bottle of wine, we were finding everything completely ridiculous but went ahead and ordered two pizzas.  Rushing back through the manure-smelling streets, we patted ourselves on the back for being so eagle eyed as to spy the only eating establishment open in the town.

A nice touch was the chili oil they gave us – it really jazzed up the flavour.

And the pizzas weren’t bad, actually.  They were even pretty hot still!

While we ate, we explored the other “amenities” of the hotel room:

Oooh – since we had nearly finished the wine, we thought we might indulge.  WrOOOOOOOOng again:

More hysterical laughter ensued as we read the “notice”:

Right then, better not touch that big old empty fridge, huh? (apologies for the blurry photos. I blame it on the hysterical laughter – could not hold the camera still!)

We thought we would give the hotel bar a chance (it had looked kinda funky on the way in earlier, even, some may say, “happening”) so off we headed, discovering more amenities on the way.

An ice machine.  Handy for those non-existent drinks in the fake mini bar.

The bar is, indeed, so cool that it appears on the “Hotels 4 Clubbers” website:

Yes, indeed – strange plastic chairs.  A strange little bar. Filled with people who had been on an EasyJet flight from Rome to London that had encountered “mechanical difficulties”. And us.  We did not order the “specialty” drink:

Hot coffee, peach liqueur and simple syrup. No thanks.  Still beggars can’t be choosers, and I suppose we were lucky the bar was not “fermé“. Right? 😉

Moral of the tale?  Next time we will stay at our regular hotel and take the regular RER train to get to the airport terminal where we will know exactly where to catch the shuttle which will be free and which will take us to our hotel where they have amazing suites with mircowaves and wonderful heat-and-eat-meals for sale à la Marks and Spencer. And 1664 on tap.  And free wifi and free films.  My name is Mardi and I am a Taurus.  I like my routine and I am proud of that!

32 thoughts on “A night in Roissy (Ile de France)”

  1. Oh dear god I think I would have died of laughter opening the fridge to that sight after everything else had happened! Haha, I love everything about this night!

    And thank you for sharing William’s special drink. If only bottleshops were open later on Sundays so I could go get some peach liqueur right now. If only..

  2. Can I just add how DESPERATE I was for a drink after that drive. While Mardi made it sound like her navigasting skills were supreme (accidentally sending me down the icy road not mentioend) and stressful – the driving was, well….let’s just say this is where our wee Ford managed 170 km/h.

    I cannot believe we do not ahve a photo of the town hall in all it’s glory that night…

  3. Sometimes breaking from the routine can bring about a great story! At least you were able to find the humor in the situation.

  4. Hahahaha! Dubiously good times. That town was completely creepy – like something from a Ray Bradbury short story or a zombie movie. And describing that dodgy little hole-in-the-wall variety store as an “epicerie” makes it sound much more charming that it was. Thank god they had some cheap wine in the dusty back shelves! That night can serve as a reminder of the days of student-poor Eurorailing experiences and the grumpy times that can ensue. But amusing when the bulk of the trip was so fantastic!

  5. I always pay for my shuttle to CDG from Gare de Lyon. Never heard of it being free before. :p Don’t worry, I have been through CDG so many times during the past 8 years living in France and I still get lost. One thing I’ve learned is when taking the transfer bus between terminals, look out at the signs of terminal whenever the bus stops or ask the bus driver to give you a signal when your stops arrives. Lastly, not many shops or restaurants opens or other things happening in small town of France on weekends and even more so during big festive season like Xmas n New Year. 😉 The only thoughts comfort me when I find myself stuck in situation like this is ‘at least they are spending time with their family and not slogging on weekends working’.

    • Actually I am talking about the hotel shuttle from CDG to the airport hotels most of which are free. I know my way around the airport pretty well too after nearly 6 years in Paris but because we were leaving from Montparnasse as opposed to arriving directly at the train station or RER, it threw me. I am, after all, a creature of habit! I suppose we should have been pleased that the Roissy population was having lovely family time but seriously – NOTHING open??? Even in bitty towns in Brittany there were a few places open!

  6. [LOL] It sounds as if you stepped into “The Twilight Zone” – or a real-life version of Murphy’s Law! After all that, any kind of pizza would’ve tasted like manna from heaven to me. The empty minibar was a hoot but the real bar (and its specialty drink) was . . . beyond words. 😎

  7. Wouldn’t it have been even more hilarious, if the room had tres chic wall art just like in Morocco!! Just LUV the ice machine, guess no rain in Roissy, as Mr Neil is sin fedora….

  8. First, I love how Neil responds (and adds) to the blog. What a great partner! Second, hooray for two pizzas for the price of one. Nothing wrong with that. And the fridge story–too funny. Happy Sunday, Mardi!

  9. Okay, for all you now desperately wanting to visit Roissy on your next sojourn across the pond…you’ll be pleased to kow they offer a “museum pass”.


  10. This is hilarious! I think you have just put Roissy AND Pizza King on the map. Felicitations!

    Hi Mr Neil! I think you should feature in the hotel brochure! 🙂

  11. You know, I’ve found that a lot of seemingly hilarious travel stories end up being “you had to be there” unfunny back home. Not this one — your personality (and Neil’s) shine through and we’re right there laughing and cringing with you. Love the laughing too hard to keep the camera steady shot and how cool that you are both getting the humor. It’d be terrible if one of you was the blow a gasket type.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.