Traveling these days in France means navigating numerous new security steps

Every hotel proves to have its set of quirks

Harriet Cuthbert. Contributed photo

Nowadays, when you travel to foreign lands and stay at various high-end hotels, you practically need the skills of a safecracker to figure out the various security systems and internal operations (i.e., how to make devices work in bedrooms and bathrooms).

I recently returned from a fantastic nine-day group tour that began in Paris and continued to northern France before returning to the City of Light. During the trip, my fellow travelers and I stayed at three different hotels, each unique not only in its features but also in its security systems. Things change rapidly in this world because professional thieves have a knack for quickly figuring things out.

Hotel A, our first and last stop in Paris, is an example of those well-known marquee accommodations with everything and more, including tour groups from everywhere. That means many languages are spoken. The police make themselves very obvious as they proudly guard the front entrance, rifles in hand and ready for anything (which I totally appreciated).

When I registered and received my personal key card, I was ready to find my room and test the bed by settling in for a long nap. The only problem was, I could not get the elevator to move. I pushed the button for my floor at least three times and waited. Nothing. I finally was rescued by an experienced fellow traveler, who slipped his key into a slot next to the panel of floor numbers, was granted access and pushed our respective buttons. Miraculously, I finally arrived on the 14th floor.

Problem No. 2 was the room lights. Europeans conserve energy in various ways, one of which is not letting the power come on until you slip your key into another slot. Boom! When I figured that out, many lights came on, making me feel so much better.

This same key card magically locked me in the room. I could not open the door until I removed the card from its slot. I have to admit, it was pretty ingenious.

Our second hotel (B) was a beautifully renovated older structure in Tours that was part of a well-known European chain. Once again, I picked up my key card and began my quest to find and access my room. The elevator was standard this time. However, to enter my room, I had to scan my card over a small area on the door and wait for a green light to appear. At least the inside lighting was as standard as the elevator.

I guess the hotel management could not afford to upgrade everything, so it had to make choices, i.e., the shower had a glass door covering only half the area, which meant the floor was bound to get soaked as I worked the shower controls. And, it did.

Hotel C, in Bayeux, was more of an average, budget-priced franchise. I was so glad to see it, because I just knew I would not have to look for secret security devices, caves, tunnels, etc. Entering my room meant just a simple sliding of the key card into a slot and waiting for the green light to appear. And, luckily, my room was on the ground floor — no elevator needed.

It was a most excellent and memorable trip.