OTB friend Ariane Daguin, proprietor of D’Artagnan, best known as the premium duck, foie gras and high-end luxury produce supplier to the top restaurants in New York City and all over the country, recently experienced an adventure as a result of the Icelandic volcano eruption, being stranded in France and having to go through a 27-hour ordeal to get home. Here is her story.
Having just spent two weeks in France on publicity tour to support my new book “D’Artagnan à New York”, I was anxious to get home and back to business. But the volcano in Iceland had other plans for me. My Sunday afternoon flight from Paris to Newark was not to be.
Outside my hotel in Paris I saw a familiar figure looking up at the hotel. Maybe Frederic Fekkai was thinking that he would have to check in and wait for days until the next flight home. We laughed about running into each other under these odd circumstances and then we joined forces. Sharing a large taxi to hold our huge amount of luggage, we headed hopefully to Orly airport. We were greeted by an eerily empty terminal and screens filled with the word “canceled.” No flights to the United States.
Tugging all our luggage, we were happy to find that Open Skies (the airline I was flying with) had chartered three buses to ferry about 150 of us stranded travelers to Toulouse Airport! We were caught up in the spirit of adventure, and helped ourselves to the rudimentary sandwiches that Open Skies was kind enough to provide.
The overnight seven hour drive from Paris to Toulouse had the air of a refugee boat, and we were not certain that we would even get flights out of Toulouse. But it was worth the chance. So there I am with Frederic, and look up to see Yannick Noah, a famous pop star and ex tennis world champion, on the other side of me! To say I was in good company would be an understatement.
As our bus pulled into Toulouse airport at 7:00 a.m. we saw TV crews all over the place, waiting to film the only people flying out of France that day. We were making the news!
The Toulouse airport had just opened a new international terminal, and I think we were the first to use it. After waiting six anxious hours in the terminal, wondering if we would be cleared for takeoff, we finally boarded a plane. Then we waited another hour on the plane while the aviation authorities signed off on the flight.
When our plane finally departed, we flew far south to avoid any chance of volcanic ash choking our engines. So I did not see the plume of smoke that is causing all the trouble. I bet that would have been a magnificent sight.