Picking up our car at the train station was not really a problem. I had a single metro ticket left, and the Europcar desk was right by the metro exit from the station. I even made sure to get the car reserved at the station local to our hotel so I would have no trouble getting back to the hotel.
Naturally, I asked for a mid-sized car since we had luggage, and wanted to make sure we had enough room. Once all the paperwork was signed, I took the keys out and saw the car. It was a Fiat Panda. By “mid” sized this would be midway between a Toyota Prius and a loaf of bread. One suitcase filled the trunk. The other sat in the back seat with the daughter, and had the third bag stacked on top of it.
Driving inside of Paris was a real adventure, streets aren’t marked until you drive down them, there are roundabouts at every major intersection with mad Frenchmen diving in and out at top speed, and suicidal pedestrians try to scare away their evil spirits by leaping in front of your car. Top that off with the fact that the city is laid out as if Salvador Dali tried to perform a bit of civic planning on Renton.
Upon escaping the city, we got our first taste of the French highway system. The downside is that they are all toll roads where you pay each time you enter a major town (that’s two tolls to get from Paris to Bordeaux, not bad) but these tools mean that the roads are really well maintained, and the service stations and rest areas are clean, and frequently placed. Gas is about double the price in the US. This all adds up fast, and means that road travel is a lot less common than in the US.
Our hotel in Bordeaux was hidden in the commercial district, which is a total maze, and it took about half an hour to find the place. The Sofitel itself is world class, full shower and bath, two TV’s (with twice that number of channels!) and it was a real pleasure to just sack out after a pretty brutal drive.