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France 2011

Europe 2019

FRANCE | Thursday, 13 June 2019 | Views [187]

Monday 10 June 2019 Melbourne

 

Having taken 2017 off to look after our new, and first, grandchild, we decided this year that we better get back to our van to see if, after 2 years, the mice have left anything for us. It is with some reservation that we leave Jack for the 9 weeks we will be away as we have got to know him well in the 19 months he has been on the earth. Fortunately with today's technology and WhatsApp in particular we should be able to aswage our guilt.

 

Leaving this year did not involve any last minute renovations which is a change from previous years, although the moment we get back there is a list of work to do. I may need a holiday at the conclusion. In the run up to leaving, the most inconvenient part was our banking. We have used a Netcode device for security over the past 10 years and I thought the battery may be getting iffy. So I requested a new device which we duly received. However the bank said they no longer support that technology so I could no longer use it. Instead I was required to use roaming to receive SMSs. But my telco did not provide roaming. So I canged providers, understanding I could switch off voice calls and just receive SMSs to keep roaming charges down. But that was wrong. I complained to the bank and they said I had spoken to the wrong person and they could activate the netcode device. So at least I now had roaming which I could control by turning it off most of the time from my account. Great....... except I need internet access to then turn it on again. It seems technology is designed to whet our appitites then deny us access.

 

But after perhaps less than the usual frustrations, the day has arrived. As it is forecast to be wet, we choose to Uber to the airport and are pleasantly surprised when the cost is only a few dollars more than our usual bus trip and much dryer and more convenient.

 

Our flight to Singapore on a Qantas A380 is uneventful, on time and up to the usual Qantas standard. Furthermore, for some unknown reason it seems to pass quite quickly. We have a 4 hour wait at Changi before a 12 hour flight to Paris. Hopefully that will also pass quickly.

 

Our departure is on time at 10.35 Singapore time. Due to a bit of early turbulance, our supper, a full blown meal, is later than usual. It is then lights out for what we assume will be our usual non-sleeping constant clock watching; our version of “Are we there yet”. However, contrary to previous years, we both get a few 15 minute sleeps which makes the trip seem shorter and we feel better on arrival at CDG on time at 6am local time.

 

Tuesday 11 June 2019 Paris

 

By the time we clear boarder control and arrive at the baggage carousel, our frist bag is just moving into sight. Second bag should be close by. But it is not. We spend an anxious 10 minutes waiting for it to appear among the increasingly sparce procession of baggage on the conveyor. With all the stuff I bring over to the van, including a pump, battery charger, assorted electronic devices etc, I always expect an announcement by security asking me to explain. But eventually it turns up and we head for the train.

 

Our TGV leaves Paris Nord du Gard around 10 so we must take a local train. After purchasing two 10 euro tickets from the ticket machine, it is a short walk to the platform which we believe to be the correct one. Despite our familiarity with CDG and its train system, there is always some uncertainty until we see a few station names pass to show us we are going in the right direction.

 

At Nord du Gard our train, which turns out to be a slower TER rather than a TGV, leaves from two or three levels above us. Rather than carry two 20 KG bags up stairs we want to take the lift. There is a group of people with luggage ready to get into the smallish lift and we don't think we will fit. But we are encouraged by the occupants to squeeze in. However, there is insufficient room for Ro so she will walk up the stairs while I accompany the baggage. However, after a few moments of button pushing, we collectively reach the conclusion that the lift is overloaded and I exit with two bags, a backpack and Ro's heavy hand luggage. I struggle up the stairs just to see Ro about to go down in the lift to find me.Fortunately she hears my somewhat out of breath cries and exits the lift to join me.

 

But we still have another level to ascend. The direction to the platform is well signposted but we can only find stairs or downward escalators from the level above. Finally we find a lift but that too will not respond to our “up” requests. Finally Ro looks above through the glass ceiling and is met by concrete. It is a down lift not an up lift. After requests to two or three people in Fringlish, we finally understand that we have to exit the barriers before we can access the next level. A trap for what should be not so new players. After a 2 hour wait on hard seats finally our train platform number is shown and we can settle onto our train.

 

It had been our intention to have coffee on the train but we discover there is no cafe on board. The train does not leave for 15 minutes so Ro decides to go back to get coffee from a vendor on the platform. As the departure time approached I get a bit nervous. She had left without phone, credit card or passport and if she misses the train we have a major problem. We won't make that mistake again......assuming she gets the train and there is a next time. Fortunately she is back with 5 minutes to spare. She had been watching the clock closely but that did not help me.

 

The TER proves not to be much slower than a TGV. The extra time over the TGV service is spent waiting in platforms along the way. But the 3 hours passes reasonably quickly and comfortably.

 

The train we normally get to Beaurainville is out of action, presumably for rail repairs so we have a 30 minute bus ride. The driver is a woman dressed in black, with sun glasses and high heeled boots. Very French, and a very competent driver. We are delivered to Beaurainville station and fortunately the weather is not wet as was forecast. A 20 minute walk and we are finally at the van, 38 hours after we left Home. On previous occasions we have been nearly asleep by this time but the little sleep we gained on the plane has helped.

 

The windscreen is opaque due to the fine dust in the barn which has accumulated for the last two years. After a bit of washing we are ready to go.

 

We have booked a Control Technique, a required biennial roadworthy, at Decra for tomorrow 10am but because it is only 3.30 and the French work late due to the extended lunch break, we drive there on the offchance they might do it today. “Impossible” is the response. So we continue on to Aldi next door to buy some requirements, including dinner.

 

We will stay the night by a river where there is a canoeing course and where we have stayed before, There are plenty of people using the course but no one seems bothered by our parking there. We have dinner and go to bed, sleeping easily until 7am.

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