Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Our Parisian Hell-tel

(Jean Beraud, Le Boulevard St. Denis, Art Renewal.com)

It all started back in London.

Try as we might, we could not reserve a second hotel room in Paris.

Everything was booked except for a few scattered rooms in very remote areas across the city.

We felt that we really had no choice.

So we decided to bunk up together in the one room of the one hotel that was still available by online reservation.

What could possibly go wrong?

Those words were spoken from the mouths of true "newbies" to Parisian life and culture.

A mere week later, we found ourselves staring in horror at the size of the hotel room.

Seth surveyed the situation and said, "Your master bath at home is larger."

So was the handbag I had purchased last month but I decided not to quibble.

Then four pairs of eyes fell on the bed.

The one bed.

The one double bed.

Please allow me to explain right here and now that double -size beds in Paris are NOT the same double -size beds that we sleep on in America.

A Parisian double bed is slightly wider than our twin size beds in the States.

My mind raced: "How in the world am I going to get that bed all to myself?"

Lickety-split the answer came to me:

Bob would sleep in the bathtub.

Seth would sleep on top of the desk.

And my darling youngest child, Gretchen, would curl up on a stack of blankets on the floor.

There - I had it all worked out.

Now, if I could just get everyone to see things my way.

Distraction became my immediate ploy.

I cooed brightly to the gang: "Aren't we all hungry? Let's go out and get some dinner!"

Seconds later, we were strolling down the street outside our hotel - stopping only to study cafe menus.

We decided on a homey looking restaurant that offered "country French" cuisine.

We eagerly partook of our roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and Bob's creme brulee.

Fortunately, our server was in no hurry to deliver our check.

That worked out nicely.

The four of us were in no hurry to head back to the hotel.

Eventually, we decided to face the inevitable.

Gretchen and Seth insisted that Bob and I take the double bed.


My plan was working - now if I could find a way to shuffle Bob off to that teeny tiny bathtub.

The kids would be sleeping on the floor.

They gathered every possible source of padding and spread it on the tile next to our bed.

Then we settled in for the night.

I am using the phrase "settled in" loosely.

Very loosely.

Let me explain.

Bob sleeps in his own queen size bed at home - as do I.

Trust me, there are many excellent reasons for this arrangement.

Most of them have something to do with Bob's horrendous snoring.

A minor reason could be related to my habit of waking up at all hours of the night to read in bed.

But that's hardly worth mentioning.

Bob and I were just a little cramped on the miniscule mattress.

Actually, we were so cramped that neither one of us could exhale a decent breath of air without disturbing the other person.

Puncturing each other with our razor sharp elbows was a real possibility.

And the bed was lumpy.

Especially in the cavernous middle of the bed where who knows how many hotel guests had parked their tushes for the night.

Seth kept us laughing with his running commentary documenting all of the amenities that were available in the "house" we were "renting" for the night.

He explained that their "bedroom" was conveniently located right next to the "kitchen" (the tiny fridge holding drinks and snacks for purchase).

Seth continued to describe his "floor plan" in a gallant effort to amuse us and diffuse the tense situation.

The "family room" morphed into the half of the desk which held the television.

His "study" became the other half of the desk where his computer was set up.

I was listening and laughing but.......

For me, this situation was teetering between the emotional mine fields of "tense" and "I want to kill someone."

Bob doesn't like noise when he sleeps.

So he got up and closed our one and only window.

Within minutes, the room was completely devoid of air.

I realize that I may be an exception, but I like to breathe.

I felt like a sardine packed in an airless tin can.

Excuse me.

Sardines enjoy more spacious accommodations than what we had in that miserable bed.

Besides, they're already dead so they no longer care how tightly they are packed in next to their neighbors.

To make matters worse, my backside had once again fallen into the "pit of doom" in the middle of the mattress.

Allow me to be completely honest here:

My dangling last nerve was hanging over the precipice and was about to fall into a very dark abyss.

I had had it.

I testily asked Bob to re-open the window so I could breathe.

I would have gladly taken care of this chore myself but I would have had to step on Seth's face in order to get to the window.

In the end, I figured that my need to breathe trumped Bob's need for a noiseless night.

He was not happy about it but he opened the window.


the sudden burst of fresh air gave me hope that I might live to see another day.

Now that oxygen was refiring my brain cells, I noticed that Gretchen and Seth were sleeping restlessly on the floor.

I knew that they were having trouble getting air circulation down in their "basement apartment."

I told Seth to turn the vertical fan in their direction.

(Thank you, I'll graciously accept your nomination for my impending sainthood immediately if not sooner).

Eventually, I managed to catch some sleep a few minutes at a time during my night in Hell.

Sleeping fitfully, I tossed and turned until dawn.

My sardine neighbor was particularly delighted.

Especially when he suddenly awoke to find my elbow nesting cozily in his right nostril.


  1. That was comical! Sorry you had to experience that. Camping outside might have been more enjoyable, and I know how you feel about that.

  2. Oh my goodness that was hilarious! Thanks for sharing that hellishly hilarious experience!

  3. Love it!! Love your writing. Remind me not to go on vacation with you...well, maybe I would. Just let me make the hotel arrangements. :)

  4. So funny. Isn't it great that we not only love our comforts, but come to expect them to always be there as we so gracefully (dare I say) age.