The French Connection

October 15, 2015

Paris has a population of 2 million but 12 million are employed there and commuting daily to the big city.  Only 50% of its’ citizens own vehicles. These cars are tiny because the people are petite in size, they are slim and wear beautiful colorful coats and tie their scarves in unusual twists and turns, their shoes are equally fashionable, boots, tights, gloves with stylish hats. Just as you watch them they observe us.

This last trip it was a eye opening change with the bigger SUV and fancy high end sports cars. These cars belong to the transplants from Middle Eastern countries. They stay at the five star hotels because they most likely own them; the Four Seasons George V, one of the most luxurious is owned by a prince from Saudi Arabia.

Only 50% of the French own their own apartments, the minimum rent runs 1,200£ per month and the average salary is 2,000£. Of the 67 million citizens, 70% are Catholic but only 10% are believers. What does that mean? The French have lost their way with God and the outcome is evident.

Nuclear cooling towers

France’s country side is breath taking but you can’t help noticing the the nuclear cooling towers sharing the grazing grass with the cows. 89% of Frances’ electricity comes from nuclear reactors, in fact they produce so much that they sell it to Germany as well.

Our first day was uneventful, settling in and most of the day was loss with 9 hour difference. I wanted French Onion Soup so several of us went on foot looking for a quaint restaurant. I read the menu outside a cafe and it said French Onion Soup, we sat down and wasted  no time in ordering the authentic soup. I made sure the waiter and I had no miscommunication, nothing lost in translation. He assured me that it was the real deal, my mouth was already savoring the baguettes buried under the melted charded cheese oozing in fresh cut onions from a French garden. As the waiter was approaching the steam from the soup was reaching my nostrils and it smelled funny. Again I asked, “French soup? nodding my head yes?” Again the waiter said “yes, yes.” Well he was right, it was cheesy soup but it was goat cheese. My first bite was sending hateful messages to my brain, the second bite was even worst, I could not stand the gamey smell and the taste was the biggest food let down of the year. My friend Natalie and I could no longer put up a facade, we paid the bill and left; the worst part is that the soup accompanied us all the way hotel belching most of the way.

Day two started with a meeting with Joanne our leader, collecting our passports and instructing us not to use the metro. Four of us had our hearts set on visiting Sacre Coeur at Montemarte, including Father Leonard from EWTN. We  looked into taxis fares but it was going to run 50£ and we did not want to spend that type of money. The metro on the other hand was only 3£.  We all disregarded the earlier warning and decided on the metro and that we were not going to share this information with Joanne.

I felt like a local on the metro and was surprise as to how effortless it was to use.

Sacre Coeur Basilica

Sacre Coeur Basilica is over 200 steps to climb and known for it’s perpetual adoration of the Holy Sacrament. Adoration is a form of prayer before the Exposition of Holy Eucharist, it is a prayer of the quiet that many Catholics practice. The Basilica’s Grand Organ is by far the best I have heard, the sound so sacred it pierces your soul and make you feel like you are entering the pearly gates. We stayed and prayed for all the requests from home, it was indeed a most holy experience.

We stopped for lattes and crapes filled with rich dark chocolate then headed back to the hotel, I offered to pay for the metro tickets, and as I was handing them out, Father Leonard was speaking to a local priest and introduced him to us. In the distraction I was putting away my wallet, I zipped it back up and we boarded the metro. At every stop the more and more passengers were boarding , many students were loading and unloading; it was uncomfortably cramped and impossible to move. As a group of French students exited I called out for them to be careful. A young man turned back and in a mocking voice repeated what I said (he was a suspect). We were almost at our exit when I noticed my purse was unzipped, I quickly rummage through it looking for my wallet but it was gone. FatherLeonard tells me to wait until we exit the metro to take a better look. Sitting on a city bench I unloaded everything out of my handbag and still no wallet; two credit cards and all Euro and American money gone and it was only day two. Maybe I didn’t zip up my purse or perhaps that smart mouth kid lifted it from the metro ride, only God knows.

I had to make a call to Mike back home to break the bad news, he had to cancel the cards. With the hectic travel plans of one day stops it was impossible for him to wire me money. Dinner that night was most unpleasant, by this time Joanne had gotten wind of metro adventured at every bite came a deserving reprimand. Father was texting me to lift my spirits but it did not work. This incident did not take away from my spiritual blessings, the only things that sadden me was the special rosary I carried in my wallets.

Father Leonard gave me a 100 dollar bill and I promise to pay once we got home but there was some sort of problem with the French not accepting American $100 bills due to counterfeits so I had to wait to go to a bank which was about a week later.

The following day we were on the Rue de Bac to visit the Church of St. Catherine Labouré an incorruptible. An incorruptible means that after a body is exhumes it is found to be intact, it did not decomposed.  St. Catherine experienced visitations of the Blessed Mother and was given instructions to design a metal of Mary that is known as the “Miraculous Medal,” the metal is a simple sign of the inner devotion the wearer has to Mary and her son Jesus (Rev 12:1). St. Catherine’s body is located on the right side of the main altar of the church. We prayed there and stayed a while to take in of the holiness.

St. Catherine Labouré
St. Catherine Labouré

I could not purchase food so I packed part of my complementary breakfast for lunch. Our ministry has practiced this for as long as I can remember, we even bring plastic bags from home for our lunches. We do this not only to save money but most of the time our schedule is so hectic that we have no time for eating.

The autoroutes in France offer easy access to restaurants/gas stations and the food is really quite tasty and fresh and the lattes are wonderful.  These stops are similar to our rest stops but much better equipped. From Paris to to Lisieux.


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