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Arrived in France

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 5/20/2015 - www.Littleviews.com ]

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May 19: Arrived in France

>>  We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport at 7AM, with me being catered from JFK to France via wheelchairs. Frankly, I would not have attempted this six-week trip without such a service, and for those in need, wheelchair assistance is great! [To acquire assistance, call the your ticketing airline, ask for an "agent," and that agent will set up everything, no charge.]

Luckily, while Hertz smoothly processed our fabulous little Peugeot with GPS and automatic transmission for approximately $1500, the GPS annunciator was set to French and the confusion it caused prohibited us from leaving the airport parking lot before it could be adjusted.

We took off again, and this time got trapped in a corkscrew driveway that led us to the center of the earth into an area that doubles as CDG's parking area. Fortunately, we had 10 minutes "free" of wandering around in time during which we avoided extra charges, but we escaped only because we knew the meaning of the French word "sortie."

From there, we blindly drove to our hotel by exclusively following our GPS' instructions that took us within a block of Le Grand Monarque, a fabulous (and very reasonably priced) hotel in the city of La Rochette. Our bright, clean room, set in back of the facility, features a picture window and a narrow balcony overlooking a woods, picnic tables, and plenty of chirping birds. [We made our reservations through Hotels.com.]

The area surrounding La Rochette and the Village of Fontainebleau, where we will spend tomorrow, is filled with very old and medieval architecture, with the Village of Fontainebleau being particularly medieval. Before we savored the French countryside too much (remember, we had "jet lag" and were very hungry), we stopped by a huge supermarket, which was next door to a flunch Restaurant. This cafeteria-style French chain serves well-rounded meals at below McDonald's prices, but with far better quality. [Recommended!]

GPS and an iPad Air

We embarked on our six-week trip to France after calculating our six-week costs to be a fraction of any top-of-the-line, two-week professional tours and river cruises. What primarily enabled this adventure was the availability of GPS technology, and off-line French translation apps that can be run on a tablet. [I will report on using the iPad app, Sky Code Ltd's "French Offline Photo Translator with Voice," in an upcoming article.]

According to car booking agents Phil encountered prior to leaving, getting a car with GPS was going to cost a GEEnormous amount of money as was securing a mid-sized car with automatic transmission. We compromised by booking a compact car with automatic transmission to be navigated by a hand-held GPS unit we already owned. Imagine our delight to learn that car we book was equipped with GPS for no extra cost. IMHO, having a car-installed GPS is the best for this type of journey into the unknown and I'm glad we do not have to struggle.

Now, to use a tablet as a GPS, the tablet must come equipped with GPS technology installed, or you have to use an "add-on." In my case, our add-on is a Bad Elf GPS with Lightning Connector (around $110) and free off-line maps, Maps.Me.

The detail on off-line maps provide a far greater window of information than what you see on standard GPS units, making off-line essential when traveling into unknown areas, especially when language barriers are at issue and cell-phone coverage is limited, or roaming is too expensive.

Tomorrow we will tour the Village and Chateau of Fontainebleau.

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Questions? Just ask!
Karen Little - Karen@Littleviews.com

Article series by Karen Little for www.Littleviews.com. Photos by Karen and Phil Little. Series began on May 13, 2015. All rights reserved.





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