Existing Member?

Remarkable Moments on Earth

Lost in the Belle Country

FRANCE | Thursday, 28 May 2015 | Views [451]

The view outside the glass window was breathtaking. Fields with plants which names I never knew, small houses with red roofs like cherries adorning the sand-colour walls, small winding roads that scream “visit me, you’d never find something like this at your hometown!” – A very different France with the one I see a few hours ago. Though seeing the lovely landscape before me, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where is the palace?” Where was the famous Versailles palace that I had wanted to visit since I was a little girl? Where was the gold and glitter gate, or at least... a sign that we were in the right track and place to walk down to the golden Trianon? Staring at the empty seats around me, and the deserted station with some people walking quickly by, some teenagers standing near the railway talking, some suspicious and doubtful thoughts began to form and circle in my head. With a smooth graceful movement, the steel carriage stopped and everything went silent. I jumped out of the huge carriage and took a look around, trying to find a “someone” to ask non-French questions to. Some people stopped upon my request and nicely tried to understand whatever words I spilled to them, but I’d come to the realization that we can never force a language to people who don’t actually speak them. I wonder if this is the same case foreigners face when visiting cities in my country that are not the country’s capital?! Oh dear.

After several no lucks, turning my head left and right; squinting my eyes in effort to spot something in a further distance under the bright sun, finally a black man with long curly hair showed up. Well – better tried than got lost forever, so I said Bonjour to the man and followed with a simple English question as to “how do I get to Versailles?” which was less stupid than “is this Versailles?” – Which obviously was not – except you’re someone who just got out of a book and have no idea what Versailles was.

The man I asked surprised me by answering with fluent English – that no, this place was totally not Versailles – it was Pontoise – and yes, we had gotten ourselves lost in the wrong train by 1-2 hour from my original destination – and absolutely – we just needed to wait until the very same train depart again, to reach the station for Versailles. One more fact – that man is actually the train engineer – one lesson to never judge a book by its cover.

Thus we waited, and waited, and while waiting – my husband brilliantly jumped off the train to take pictures with his photographer camera. I stayed inside with the kids. After a few minutes passing by, suddenly there’s a swift movement, and the landscape before my eyes – outside the glass windows – once again shifted, moving, changed – and Oh my God – the train departed, without my husband! He realized in the same split second as I, and started running to try and catch the train – which obviously was like running in air because we couldn’t even catch the less modern train in our home country – let alone this modern vehicle in France –for goodness sake.

My second son began to wail and cry noticing his father had been left behind – and yes my bright first son was so amazing that he calmed his baby brother down – which worked instantly unlike my usual efforts. Don’t panic...don’t panic.. I told myself. After a few meters the station was behind the whole 10 carriages train, I spotted the button to ask for emergency stop by the train – and the train stopped abruptly. Boy, if only I had noticed that button one minute earlier... and then I jumped off the train, seeing that the same black engineer walking down towards me – with the same friendly smile. I grinned in panic and fetched him – thinking about the reasonable story that could take this huge machine back to the Pontoise station where my husband was – lost. How I’d done something that I had never once thought of even back in my home country – was beyond me. 

Tags: france, lost, paris, pontoise

About naturewarrior

Follow Me

Where I've been


My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about France

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.