After a much needed Saturday of lolling about in our hotel with our feet up, took a taxi to C. de Gaulle to collect our car. Elapsed time from Montmartre: 45 minutes. On a Sunday. We had booked our car through Cheapo-Air who apparently off-loaded it to Auto Europe. When we arrived, we discovered that we didn't know who our car was actually rented from. We selected Terminal 2 from the 6 or 7 available, found the car rental counter and proceeded to line up at each and every one until one admitted that they had our reservation. Time for that: 30 minutes. The rude girl at the desk informed us that there were two people ahead of us (clearly not, since we were at the counter). Then the senior rep intervened after a suitable delay and started the paperwork. The car we had reserved 6 months ago was not ready of course, but they could let us have something called a Renault Captur Diesel instead. Then a junior representative filled out the rest of the paper with us. Another 30 minutes. The French invented bureaucracy. Houses have been bought and sold in less time than it takes to collect a rental car in France. We were told we would be called when our car was ready. That happened 15 minutes later. Found car, left airport in something of a dudgeon. Resolved never to deal with Auto Europe again.
Picked up the excellent four-lane, A16 toll road (Paul hadn't been here for 57 years, so the new roads were a treat) north through Picardy to Amiens, home of the the largest Gothic cathedral in France, Notre Dame d'Amiens. Built entirely of stone, starting in 1270 to house the head of St. Jean the Baptist (still on gruesome display in the transept), the nave soars to a height of 43.2 meters which means it could house a modern 15 story building! A 234 meter long black and white maze on the floor is overwhelmed by the majestic ceiling.
Finally all churched-out, we continued on towards Calais and our B&B for the next few days in a boutique village called Ardres. Nothing was open for supper until 7, too late for us, so we had a beer and retired, happy to be out of Paris.
Paris is not France. It's more like another country that happens to speak French and has 10 million inhabitants. The remaining 40 million Frenchmen live in the real France.
Cathedral of SJB at Amiens
Complex stone supports
Head of St. Jean wrapped in gold
Our B&B at Ardres near Calais