Losing my phone in Paris – lessons learned

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Hi Frugalistas!

It started off so well – I arrived in Paris on time, sped through immigration (ok, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but by CDG airport standards….) and was met by my charming chauffeur to whisk me to my apartment in the Marais. All I had to do was call the apartment manager to say I was on my way so she could let me in. I even had her phone number in my phone so I could call her easily from the car without rummaging for papers.

Staying in an apartment in Paris had seemed like a good idea. As a regular visitor I felt I was stuck in a bit of rut – same hotel in the same neighborhood, eating at the same restaurants and generally lost in my own little Paris comfort zone. So this time I would do something different – an apartment in a completely different part of town and I would experience Paris for the first time (again!)

So, we head out of Charles de Gaulle and onto the road into Paris. I ring the number – a recorded message telling me the number is not connected. I tried a couple of times again, each with the same result. No matter I think, I’ll check the number when I arrive at the apartment (I’d left the detailed paperwork for my booking in my case) and find a cafe to wait for her.

The chauffeur dropped me off and bid me adieu. As he sped off into the Paris traffic I opened my bag enough to get my paperwork out. Now, where was my phone? I’d left it in the car which was now well out of sight. Hhhhmmm, now I had no way of getting into the apartment and no way of contacting the local manager. I had traveled by private chauffeur organized through my airline, so I didn’t know the name of the company and couldn’t remember the name of the driver. To top it all off I was tired after traveling for 24hrs – which was probably how I managed to lose the phone in the first place.

In my favorite book the heroine ends up weeping on her suitcase at the Gare du Nord in Paris, having spent all her money, her train ticket to London expired and having no idea what to do next. In the book she gets rescued by a French duke who becomes her lover – but as a respectable 21st century married woman I didn’t hold out much hope…..why hadn’t I just booked my usual hotel? At least then I could be in my room and have them help me track down my phone….

Well, what to do? I headed off and found a tabac where I could buy a phone card, then on my third attempt found a public phone that worked. I still couldn’t get the local manager so I called the office of the booking agency I had used. (luckily by this time it was business hours in the US where the company was based). They found the local manager (turned out she had changed phone numbers unexpectedly just that morning) and within the hour I was tucked up safely in the apartment with a landline to start getting my phone back. It took a number of phone calls and nearly three days but my phone was finally safely returned.

So what are the lessons from this little adventure?

1. Always have a way of identifying the name of the company you are traveling with. Get the name of the taxi company or the name of the private chauffeur service you are booked on.
2. Always know how to use the public phone system in an emergency – your guidebook should be able to explain this to you.
3. If you are tired from your journey take extra care with your belongings. I made the fatal mistake of not closing my bag properly after I had finished with my phone. Simple, simple thing……
4. You need to be prepared to be completely independent if you choose to stay in an apartment. They usually don’t provide any sort of concierge service.
5. Always have a back up number to call in case there are unforeseen problems with the one you are meant to call.
6. If you know what to do, French dukes are not necessary to rescue you. You can manage on your own.
7. Sometimes getting outside your comfort zone when traveling isn’t always the comfort zone you had in mind when you planned your trip!

My thanks to Vacation in Paris for helping sort out the apartment and for their calm in my crisis and to American Express in Australia for their efficiency in finding the phone.

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8 Comments on “Losing my phone in Paris – lessons learned”

  1. Vivien L. 15/06/2012 at 11:50 am #

    I’ve succumbed to booking an apartment for our trip this year and I’ve booked with VIP too. Glad to hear that their US office is on the ball, although we’re having our keys sent out to us. Did you enjoy Le Marais? We stayed there last year and loved it. This year we’re staying at St. Germain instead.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 15/06/2012 at 2:30 pm #

      I did. Definitely nice for a change. I normally stay over in the 7th so it was almost like staying in a different city. I’ve booked with VIP before and they are terrific. Because I live in Australia it’s harder to get the keys posted so I normally need to arrange to collect them

  2. Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) 13/10/2013 at 12:09 am #

    In the U.S., you would have had a 50-50 chance of ever seeing your phone again. I love happy endings and learning from my mistakes. I’m a Baby Boomer, so I’ve had plenty of time to make plenty of mistakes to learn from.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 13/10/2013 at 3:32 am #

      Yes, I’m never averse to making a mistake if there’s something to be learned, and as a fellow Baby Boomer, I’ve also had plenty of opportunity to learn a lot!

      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

  3. fotoeins 15/10/2013 at 7:52 am #

    Jo, thanks for writing about and providing tips and lessons from your loss; glad you got your phone back!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 15/10/2013 at 3:31 pm #

      The funny thing was, it was a new phone, that had a dual SIM capacity. It turned ut to be the worst phone ever – completely awful sound quality! But I did get both my SIM cards back!

  4. iputmylifeonashelf 01/07/2014 at 8:37 pm #

    I left my phone in a cab once. I had no clue how to go about getting it back. I am so glad to read you recovered yours!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 02/07/2014 at 6:16 am #

      I was lucky in that it was a chauffeur car rather than a cab, and that it was booked as part of my airline ticket – not sure what I would have done otherwise!

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