Booked in a Paris Brothel

Our bus driver and tour guide in Paris
Our bus driver drove us to the brothel in Paris. (photo by dorothyadele)

When I was a high school sophomore, during spring break, my French class flew to Paris, France. Our French teacher and a few parents chaperoned our group of 18 girls. Little did we know that the travel agent had booked us in a Paris brothel.

Our French teacher, Mrs. M, had arranged everything, and the travel agency had offered us a package that was reasonably priced and included the hotel, flights, and a few tours and meals.

Paris, France

We booked our flights on a 747 double-decker jet.  Most of us had never flown before much less traveled abroad.

During our evening flight, we were up most of the night talking, playing cards, and walking up and down the stairs to the lounge to calm our exploding energy.

After a nine-hour flight, we arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. We looked disheveled with messy hair and wrinkled clothes, and we felt exhausted with jet lag due to the six-hour time difference. Therefore, we were eager to check into our hotel rooms, shower, and regroup. To our dismay, that didn’t happen for several hours.

Eiffel Tower in Paris
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, rises in the distance. (photo by dorothyadele)

After grabbing our bags, we met our tour guide and boarded a bus. Our chatter reverberated throughout. Moreover, little did we know that we were headed to a dingy smog-coated hotel with curtain-covered windows.

Booked in a Paris Brothel

When we arrived at our hotel, I noticed our French teacher’s face flush. She told us to wait in the bus while she scurried down the bus stairs to talk to the hotel manager. We stayed for 45 minutes, but we were feeling fidgety, and our chaperones were getting angry. We couldn’t imagine what was causing our delay.

Finally, Mrs. M emerged from the hotel, and we exited the motorcoach and entered the inn. As we took the grand tour, Mrs. M spoke incessantly in high pitched tones to the manager while her arms flailed in all directions.

They must have decided to show us the rooms. We lugged our carry-on bags down a dirty, dimly lit hallway. When we opened the door to our room, a musty smell hit our noses before we saw the two double beds without headboards, a nightstand, and a rickety dresser that furnished the living quarters. More importantly, we couldn’t find a bathroom.

Luckily, the manager informed us that guests shared a bathroom down the hall and it was even equipped with a tub and shower. Though we could have used the facilities, when we glanced at the tan-tinged shower and tub we stopped in our tracks. Furthermore, we made a unanimous decision: We weren’t staying in that filthy place.

Money-Saving Travel

Mrs. M later told us that the sign that hung outside the hotel advertised rooms for rent by the hour. Surprisingly, our travel agent had booked us in a Paris brothel. Looking back, I understand how the agency gave us that money-saving deal.

Moreover, the brothel was just the first of many unnerving incidents that we faced on that trip to Paris.

Le Meridien

When our chaperones refused to let us stay in the hotel, Mrs. M called the travel agent again. After a 20-minute conversation and a 30-minute wait, we climbed back in our coach, ready for the next adventure. Happily, we arrived and checked in to the beautiful Le Meridien. I suspect that the travel agency absorbed the additional cost.

The Next Paris Incident

After an exhausting first day and visiting several tourist sights on the following days, I decided that I needed to rest if I wanted to enjoy the trip. I skipped a midweek tour that I later regretted because I missed a lot. My group left for the tour, and I was the only student who remained in the hotel.

The Unwanted Visitor

As I relaxed and read my book, someone knocked on the door. I guessed that it was someone from our group. I opened the door, and a dark-haired man dressed in a navy blazer and khaki pants stood outside my room. He asked for Madame Bertrand, and in my limited French I told him that she was not in my room, and I politely closed the door.

He knocked three more times about 30 minutes apart, and I did not open the door. I had no way to get in touch with my group, and my face felt sore from clenching my jaw.

Rotary phones were the rage in those days.
Rotary phones were the rage in those days. (photo by dorothyadele)

I scoured the room for a weapon. I found a thin-stemmed wine glass on our bar that I could break if he barged in.

Someone knocked again, and my heart pounded. I spoke through the door like my mother had always told me to do. This time, the visitor was a flower deliveryman who held a large bouquet of red roses and yellow lilies.

I inched the door open, and I tried to explain in French that the flowers were not for me and that a man wouldn’t leave me alone. I accepted the flowers and quickly dialed security while the deliveryman, my only friend in the hotel, stayed.

Security and the Concierge

Within 10 minutes, about five employees, including security and the concierge joined us in my room. In my panic, I must have dialed the concierge too, even though I didn’t need restaurant reservations.

I attempted to explain that a man “un homme” had knocked on my door. No one understood my French, and I felt like I was losing a Charades game. I paced, knocked on the door, pointed to the flowers and used the French words that I knew. They laughed, but I was glad they stayed.

While I made a scene for my new French friends, my roommates returned. They were amused, but not surprised that I had disrupted the hotel by gathering the employees in my room, while they were gone.

My French teacher learned that the persistent door knocker expected to meet Madame Bertrand. I guess he thought that I was hiding her.

As mentioned above, during this trip, I nearly stayed in a brothel, plus I played Charades with the hotel staff at Le Meridien. Unfortunately, the commotion didn’t end there.  In another incident on our Paris trip, we were mistaken for prostitutes. Who would think that high school girls chaperoned by my friend’s mother, who happened to be a beautiful model, were call girls? For that matter, who knew that Paris could be so much fun?

Travel Tips

Research Your Hotel

Research your destination and accommodations. In today’s world as a result of the internet, you can avoid the added anxiety that we experienced when the travel agent had booked us in a dirty disreputable hotel.

You get what you pay for

Also, remember that you get what you pay for.  If the price sounds too good, there may be a glitch.

How to Avoid Travel Nightmares

Before booking accommodations, a tour, transportation, or a reservation on an unfamiliar airline or cruise ship, read the reviews first, especially the bad reviews. Also, compare the photos from the business website to the ones posted by the people who had used these services.  A little research can help you avoid travel nightmares.

Please Comment Below

What is your worst travel nightmare? Ironically, I had a travel incident that was much worse than when we were booked in a Paris brothel.

Booked in a Paris Brothel

Two Traveling Texans


34 thoughts on “Booked in a Paris Brothel

  1. Wow sounds like quite the experience for your first time abroad! I’m surprised you continued to travel after that haha! But now I’m sure it makes for a good laugh! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    1. California Globetrotter, It was a creative way to start traveling aborad, but it turned into a great trip. Thanks for your comment. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  2. What a great story. I can only imagine what you described so explicitly. Most likely one of the best stories going around in your school. Thanks for the travel tips

    1. Thanks Donna! Also, when that man was knocking on my door and wouldn’t leave me alone, I was tempted to call my mother.

  3. Such a entertaining story to read but I bet it was annoying back then. I did have a scary issue with an airbnb in Philadelphia. Reviews said that it wasn’t in the best area but in reality it was in the hood. It was actually a pretty scary area and luckily we only stayed there one night. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  4. Oh my gosh! What an intense trip you had! I hope you got some more positive experiences too. It must have been terrifying to have that man keep knocking at your door.

    1. Suzy, Overall, I loved that trip to Paris even though the man that kept knocking on the door made me nervous.

    2. Hi Suzy. Actually, everything turned out fine, though the man who kept knocking on the door made me nervous. Thank you for your comment.

  5. Wow. What an experience. I’m sure you guys were the first to get got by this type of thing back in those days. I didn’t catch what year this was in. It’s pretty cool that you still have these vintage photos.

    1. Victoria, It was an experience, and as a result of the internet it probably wouldn’t happen today.

    1. Jill, It was memorable, and I thought about the incident when I returned to Paris. It made for an amusing first experience traveling abroad. Thanks for your comment.​

  6. What an adventure! Travel in the old days… These days chaperones would not let a teen stay behind alone in a hotel room when the rest of the group is on an outing. Glad your experience turned out good, and didn’t stop you from future travels. Love your attitude! Travel is adventure, take the good with the bad, and laugh about the mishaps. Sometimes the worst experiences make the best stories later. Great story, thanks for sharing.

    1. Emese, It truly was an adventure and thank you for reading my story. I returned to Paris recently and confirmed that it’s still my favorite city. You are right, these days they wouldn’t let a teenager stay alone in a hotel while the group tours, but luckily it worked out.

  7. OMG, what a story! I can only imagine how you must have felt about Paris after this experience. Bless your heart, you definitely deserved better. The one lesson I learned well in life is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    1. Anda, you are so right about getting what you pay for whether it’s travel or merchandise. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Hahahaha!! Only in Paris! What a great story! I bet you thought after that ‘I wonder what the rest of Europe has in store for me!’ I’ve stayed in a hotel in Burgos, Spain, where the plumbing was hanging out just above my window, so everytime someone flushed the toilet it all (yes, the lot…) would flush and splash past my window. OMG!! I resolved the issue, by drinking so much wine that it didn’t matter anymore 😉

    1. Esther, I couldn’t imagine dealing with plumbing hanging above my hotel window, and I’m glad that you found the perfect remedy! #WanderfulWednesday

  9. Wow, great story and one that take place in Paris where language can be a problem. Brings to mind the travel tip, do research and read reviews before booking reservations . One time my husband didn’t do his research and we ended up staying in a love motel in Asia with my mother. lol. Mirrors on the ceiling and more. Great tip. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Oneadventure, that’s pretty funny about the love motel. I am booking a trip now and I assure you that I will read all the reviews. Thanks for the tip. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  10. This post had me laughing!! I also went on a high school trip to Paris. It was with my marching band and we were scheduled to do performances across Paris and London. Sooo many hilarious and dramatic events on that trip (mostly among the people in the band… not necessarily Paris’ fault lol!!). Luckily, though, we weren’t booked in a brothel. Poor Mrs M haha!!!

    1. Hi Sarah. You are right, Mrs. M. was stressed, and you can never predict what will happen when you have a chaperoned high school group in Paris. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Sounds like you had a very eventful trip to Paris. Doesn’t sound like your chaperone was doing a very good job! Or maybe they were just as stressed as you girls by the whole experience.

    1. Paul, thanks for your comment. Our French teacher was stressed, andI felt sorry for her. Luckily they booked us in a new, luxury hotel and everything worked out better than we expected.

    1. Thanks Cynthia, I can’t believe that the travel agency booked us in a brothel, and I felt sorry for our French teacher. But, luckily it all worked out.

  12. Oh my word! Talk about a baptism of fire for your first overseas trip! I went to France a few times as a kid, both with my mum and on a couple of exchanges at high school. The first time I went to Paris with my mum her purse was stolen and the second time she had a cardiac episode on the metro and had to be rushed to hospital. Thankfully she was OK in the end but for some reason, there were no ambulances so they put us in the back of a police van, put the siren on and took us to the hospital! Never a dull moment when you travel, hey?!

    1. Sammie, thanks for your comment. Travel can throw curve balls at you with unexpected adventures. Most importantly, I am glad that afte​​r your mum’s episode that she was ok.

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