Clocking up train miles with adventures en route

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Monday last week Chris took the train from a dry brown Provence to a moist green Brittany to meet up with some A Rocha people and look at a potential project. Maybe!

Green and muddy in Brittany

Wednesday, he took the train back. Unfortunately due to a number of factors including the late arrival of the Rennes train into Paris he found himself running short of time to get from Gare du Montparnassse to Gare du Lyon. (A note of advice: online booking assumes that you can travel between any Paris station within an hour. It ain’t always easy: allow longer!) The upshot was that he took a motorcycle taxi across Paris which broke several French traffic laws including those clearly trivial ones to do with maximum speed, which side of the road to drive on, and the requirement to stop at red lights. It was distinctly, well, exhilarating.

The first snow of winter on Mont Ventoux

He got back Wednesday afternoon but on Thursday we both took the train north again to Paris and from there to London. Saturday Chris spoke at Cuddesdon College near Oxford for CRES (Certificate in Christian Rural and Environmental Studies) on “Creating Conservation with Roots: developing a sense of place and time”.  This was two lectures of over an hour each talking about some of the issues to do conservation and using Courmettes as an example. If anyone is interested you can get a PDF of the presentation from him.

The sleeper train at Austerlitz station

Then on up north via Leamington and Birmingham to see Chris’s parents on Monday and Tuesday in their residential home near Preston. The plan then was to head south Wednesday (Preston to London, Eurostar to Paris), picking up the overnight train south from Paris. Tuesday evening however we had an unwelcome text message that courtesy of a strike the overnight sleeper train was cancelled. No one who we managed to contact by phone seem to know what was happening so we simply headed to Paris anyway.


In fact at Paris Austerlitz, SNCF had everything well organised and, complete with a complimentary breakfast, we got beds in a sleeper coach parked in a siding and were rebooked on the fast TGV on Thursday morning. The result was that by Thursday noon we were back home.


Frosty fields in the centre of France

Crossing the Rhone with Avignon in the distance

Mont Sainte Victoire near Aix-en-Provence. We speedily overtook all the traffic on the motorway you can see at bottom right.

Chris reckons that in ten days he has travelled well over 5000 kilometres by train. That sounds a lot, but given that much of the time it was on France’s excellent TGV at around 300 kph (approx. 186 mph) it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. It would be nice to take it easy for a bit, but on Saturday there is a meeting of the Conseil d’Administration of A Rocha France near Arles, and he is preaching twice on Sunday in Cannes. But for both of these we are going to drive.

Nearly home. Taradeau is behind the nearest ridge.

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