Sunday in Paris. Paris on strike. No metros. Infrequent buses overflowing with people. Bumper to bumper traffic. Taxis with static red lights. We had done our research. The bus stop was directly outside the front of our building. We checked times. We arrived and waited. 14 minutes later the bus arrived with room for a few single riders, but not a family of six. We turned the corner for the metro. Closed. We crossed the street in attempt to hail a green-lit taxi that would accommodate six. In an answer to prayer, ten minutes later, we found our guy who would take us as close as possible to Parc des Princes to see the famous Paris St.-Germain play vs. Monaco.
Just like at other European games we have attended, this one required identification. Somehow we left the apartment with only five passports; however, we played the fumbling, big family card. Attempting to swipe all six tickets on our phones before being frisked, fumbling with the passports we had, the security guards assumed we were harmless and allowed us to pass. All family members permitted to enter.
Of all the games we have attended, this was by far the most energetic and the fans most passionate and vocal. Learning from past outings, we stayed until the very end and took our time leaving. The bus stops were overrun with desperate looking Parisians of all ages, wondering how the limited number of busses, due to the strike, would carry them all home. Those with motorbikes had it the best, as in one straight line they zoomed away from the congested circle. Unmarked taxi drivers tempted us with an easy ride back into the city. Fortunately, I did not witness any other tourists fall as easy prey.
Over six miles away, walking was definitely not an option this time around; yet, we decided to flee the chaos and direct our steps in the right direction. Nearly midnight, we were exhausted, tension was at a peak and no taxis that were large enough to hold 6 were passing by. Feeling anxious about walking around the outskirts of Paris with four children, I was getting desperate. We spotted a green-lit taxi across the street, across the tram tracks, going the opposite direction, but I frantically waved and ran to his window, thankful no cars or trams were in my path. I began my conversation with the young, kind frenchman who explained he could only carry four in his five-seat vehicle. At this point, I had already motioned for the rest of our group to traverse the terrain and join me. After a few moments of back and forth, he took pity on us and braved the risk of being pulled over by the cops. We finally breathed a sigh of relief, squished into the back seat with Matt in the front, and made it safely home. His kindness and risk will not be forgotten and my faith in Paris is restored.