Everything about my 24-hour turnaround trip to the City of Light was totally French.

What I’ve learned living here, is to just roll with it — don’t panic, don’t change it, just roll — so really, I felt Not Lost in Paris. Not even befuddled or confused.

The opportunities were constant. This was a 24-hour turnaround trip that was cantankerous from the start.
What WAS lost, was my passport.
When I discovered it was gone, as an American, I had to notify the American Embassy in Paris.
And, to get another one, I had to show up in person.
Enter the bureaucracy.
It wasn’t bad, actually … if you read all the directions and follow them, it works.
But the ‘getting there’ and ‘doing that’ which surrounds a successful mission can hold lots of absurdities.
I found a great little two star hotel just off rue Odessa which is walkable close to Gare Montparnasse — the Paris train station that runs direct to Rennes, my go-to for traveling France.
With a clean, private room on the ground level with a courtyard outside, it was tiny as always — but it did have a/c!
Fab location.
I checked into my room, turned on the independent a/c unit,  took a power nap, and woke up 20 minutes later soaking hot.
I could NOT figure out how cold air coming out the top generated heat at the headboard.
Never mind, it was time for dinner.
I found a great Italian restaurant on rue Delambre— one block over from me — the Auberge de Venise — and indulged myself.
I was after a consolation prize, and I found one.
I did get way too much food but was amazed I could get a menu for 38€ that included some favorites. Entree was carpaccio, Plat was risotto aux porcinis & parmesan, and Dessert was tiramisu. Add a pichet of chilled, fine dry Italian white wine, and the evening opened perfectly.
Sauntering back to the hotel, every brasserie and  creperie was packed. Overflowing sidewalk cafes were bustling with verve.
Drinking in the Parisian scene’s flamboyant pleasures on the streets was saturating.
I got back to my room, opened the door and again turned on the a/c. Got ready, climbed into bed, and woke up hot again about an hour later. By this time it was after 10. I got out of bed, and had a good look at the machine.
No one had vented the out-vent.
It was jammed under the bed so all the hot air of the machine working hard, was blowing out under the bed, turning the room into an oven.
This option — of it not being correctly installed — had never occurred to me.
So I called reception. I said, ‘Monsieur, I would like another room. The climatisation does not work; it is heating the room.’
‘Oh Madame, that is not possible; I cannot change your room. There isn’t another one available.
I will come right down.’
Which he did. He entered and said,’ Oh my, it is very warm in here … and with grand gestures, he flung the curtains aside, opened the window and put the out-vent — out the large, open window.
Pulling the curtains back over it all to ensure privacy for me, he said, ‘Just turn the lights off; it will work fine.’
I instantly found myself in a Monty Python scene where everything was not as it seemed.
Incredulously, I said, ‘ Monsieur, I’m on the ground floor. This window is wide open. There is no security.’
‘Oh it’s no problem. It is secure here. I will be locking the courtyard very soon. In ten minutes. (The courtyard was full of perhaps 10 other guest rooms).
The family (party of 5-6 chattering away ’til midnight) outside my window?
He said, ‘I know everyone here! This is my family! All is well! And I am here all night so you are safe!’
To which I said, ‘Well, Monsieur, why don’t we just turn off the machine and I’ll leave the windows open?’
Bon idée.‘ And ‘As you like, Madame …’
He was giving me total choice.
Sleep did ensue, mainly because I gave up at that point.
Fresh air was now simply worth the price paid.
But then I had the morning to face.
I figured out the metro – from the Edgar Quinet stop over to Montparnasse, change lines, then metro over to Place du Concorde, the stop for the American Embassy. Easy.
I went to the billet machine — none of the them were working.
There’s a blue button to push for help — which I did — and out of behind the facade of the machines came a man in uniform.
The machines are not working.
Oh. You have to use a card.
I didn’t tell him I had done that.
But I said OK, pulled it out again — and it still didn’t work.
Pushed the button again. He was a little perturbed this time but listening.
With good etiquette in mind, I gently asked for his help.
He was receptive.
Meanwhile a hooded young man w skateboard in hand parkoured over the entire entry blockade.
The metro man didn’t even blink.
Off I went through the belly of Paris.
Up stairs.
Down stairs.
A good 4,000 steps to the voie.
No matter — I had a rendezvous …
The American Embassy in Paris takes up at least one full Parisian block; it’s a massive, formidable, impressive, gated structure.
In fact, it is the oldest diplomatic mission of the United States, with Benjamin Franklin one of the earliest U.S. Ambassadors to France. Security and guards are everywhere, scanning everyone in sight.
The line of people outside the embassy needing passports or visas was long.
One has to make an appointment, ahead of time, which I did.
These folks had not. So I walked through to the first guard.
He stops me saying when are you traveling?
I said the end of August.
He is looking at the page I printed out confirming the appointment.
It is in English.
He is French.
He said, ‘Oh, Madame, you need to come back 3-4 days before departure, not now.’
I froze in place. A good five minutes standing still, I then asked him to repeat what he had said.
He did.
But why?
I don’t know, Madame … I just do what I’m told.
So I stood aside and went over the long administrative process I thought I’d fulfilled … the subsequent train to Paris, the hotel, the everything, and as I had an appointment, I decided to ask him a next question.
Excuse me, Monsieur, but should I cancel my appointment?
He looks me in the eye — You have AN APPOINTMENT??!!
Oui, Monsieur.
Well you should have said that.
Sift through that … and you’ll discover he doesn’t read English.
‘By all means, please go in.’
The process inside the gates was simple, methodical, but slow.
It took just over 3 hours start to finish. My passport will be ready in 2-3 weeks.
Off I go; mission accomplished.
Back to the metro.
Same problem, different station.
No machines are working.
Blue button in sight, I pushed it and explained the situation to the woman’s voice coming through the speaker.
Ok then you’ll have to walk through the gates, go left, then keep going straight to the next ticket kiosk.
Another 4,000 steps.
Which I did.
I went to this ticket machine, got my billet, went to go through the entry blockade —  but the machine didn’t take tickets.
It was broken. I decided most Parisians in the metro knew this and saved their 2,10€. Whatever. I just walked through.
But let’s go back to earlier … where the two star hotel left me shaking my head.
While wandering the streets between the Auberge and hotel, I sussed out other hotels on the same street. There are many.
As I have to go back to Paris to pick up my new passport, I’ve decided to upgrade to three star hotels.
I have a few in mind …
Now that’s a bon idée, Ani …