Not everything was crap. I'll start with all the good stuff. We got to see all of my husband's close friends from when he studied in France, except one. We got some great pictures and they got to meet Love Bug. I also got to really experience Brittany, which is a beautiful part of France, and we spend a day in the beautiful city of Nantes and another day in Guerande. We bought lots of sea salt and sables (butter cookies)... and walked along the beautiful "Cote Savage"- Savage Coast (named because it's rocky) on the Atlantic Ocean. The Sol.des started in France, twice a year huge sales, so we got some great deals on clothes for Love Bug. We also got to eat some amazing meals... and I tried lots of new foods. And finally, my husband humored me and we played Mini Golf, since I love it. We just passed Love Bug back and forth. I beat B by 5 strokes and even got a hole in one. I think my Dad was smiling on me right then (he loved golf).
But, we did not have the best time overall... the temperatures were almost 20 degrees colder than usual... in the 60s, when it should have been in the 80s. No lazy days on the beach for us. We did sit out at the pool for about 20 minutes one day, until we got cold and worried that Love Bug would get too much sun (it was sunny and cold). She had SPF 50 on, but I'm psycho about sunscreen... that's why she's so pale.
We also had the most uncomfortable mattress in the world. Why do the French, and most Europeans, for that matter think that vacations have to be "roughing it" to be enjoyed? We were staying in a residence apartment that cost almost $1,000 for a week. This place was located quite far from the beach, it's off season here (school just got out), and it's hours from Paris, in a small town. So you're probably thinking that for $1,000, it must be really nice, despite the crappy mattress, right? Wrong! The mattress was just the first straw.
Here are my top 10 complaints...
1. We only had a living room/kitchen and a small bedroom with paper thin walls. Even if we put Love Bug to bed in our room, we still had to be quiet in the living room not to wake her. And our annoying noisy neighbors? Forget it... they woke her up all the time, but luckily she went back to sleep with the exception of two late nights.
2. The kitchen only had no microwave, a tiny oven, and the burners weren't labeled, so it was a guessing game on how hot the stove was getting.
3. I rinsed my dishes well before putting them in the dishwasher, but the tiny pieces of (non-sticky) food that were left, were still there after the cycle. And it didn't even feel warm when I opened it... so I felt like I had to rewash all Love Bug's stuff with hot water and soap to really make sure it was safe to eat from again.
4. The TV was tiny and had 6 French channels, 4 GERMAN CHANNELS, and 1 English Channel (CNN). Okay, we're about 600 miles from Germany, but right across the BRITISH CHANNEL from the UK... what the heck?
5. They advertised it as a residence "hotel", so I thought they might provide some of the services that residence "hotels" provide in other countries... like trash collection, changing sheets/towels, or providing a few supplies. No! We had to take out our own trash and recyclables (at least they recycle). But, glass could not be put in the trash or recyclables, so we had to take it to the only glass receptacle on the other end of the complex, about a fourth of a mile away. We also got our sheets and towels provided in bags, so we had to put them on the beds ourselves. And we only got one set of sheets/towels for the whole week. And finally, no supplies, except a kitchen cleaning kit that we had to pay for. No hand soap in the bathroom. We had a half a roll of toilet paper and when my husband asked for more, they said we had to buy our own at the store. None of this was told to us... when we paid a deposit, when we paid the remainder, or at check-in.
6. We had to pay for parking and since the garage was only a few dollars more than just parking out in the open lot, we did the garage. It was worth it to avoid the rain, but people shouldn't have to pay for open parking.
7. The pool was not heated. I was a swimmer in high school and spent many a morning in a freezing pool, but I wouldn't get in that pool for anything. How do they keep it open from April to September, if I couldn't swim there at the end of June? Even pools in more warm climates don't get warm for many weeks without a heater. The temps at night cool everything down. And did they use a pool cover ($100 verses about $2,000 for a heater) to keep in any amount of heat gained on sunny days? No, of course not!
8. We saw a mini golf place on our way into town and wanted to try it if the weather wasn't warm enough to be on the beach. B went down to the desk to ask about hours and they said they had no info on local attractions.
9. They did sell a few tourist items and breakfast each morning, but it was twice as much as any other store or bakery.
10. I decided the floors felt dirty about three days into our trip, so I decided to sweep with the little broom/dustpan they had there. There is no way that all that dirt was from us... it was like the Mt. Everest of dust bunnies. There is little doubt in my mind that they did not clean the floors properly before we came, and they could have just used a hard floor vacuum. I only had hand broom and did a heck of a job. The worst part of the whole story? We actually had to clean the kitchen before we left. I expected that we would have to clean all the dishes, but the entire kitchen? There were at least some supplies to clean in the kitchen in the little kit, that I remind you, WE HAD TO PAY FOR! If the kitchen is left clean, they throw the bags of sheets and towels on the bed, AND THEY DON'T SWEEP, then what exactly is the cleaning staff doing that made so much noise and took so long when other people checked out?
I really feel bad for the French at times like this. They have no idea that they are being ripped off. We have stayed in suburban Washington, DC, in a residence hotel for less money than this place. It had cleaning service everyday, sheets and towels changed when you wanted, free parking, heated pool, 30+ channels (but I admit, no foreign languages), nice, quiet rooms, and we only had to throw used dishes in the dishwasher and turn it on before we left. They provided dishwasher tabs and even provided laundry soap and softener for free if you wanted to use the laundry room, which was also free.
Before we left, I thought we got a great deal. We found apartments to rent in the same town for a few hundred dollars less, but they looked awful in the pictures and you had to provide everything, even sheets, towels, and clean the entire place before you left.
I guess we need to start skipping yearly vacations and just splurge on a really nice place, every other year, if we want to vacation in France!
To read about Love Bug's vacation... see below!