Well, we made it after a journey that started at goat speed, at least until I managed to usher a pair of errant goats out of the road on the way to the station. The speed picked up considerably after that, although not enough to stop us from missing our connection in Paris, courtesy of a delayed Eurostar. That meant they paid for us to spend the night in Montparnasse, which we realised, as we walked down the Rue de la Gaiete, past numerous shops offering very specialised services, is basically Soho. At least the hotel they put us up in didn’t appear to rent its rooms out by the hour and although it was late by the time we got there the evening was gorgeous and we found a restaurant* where we could sit out and watch the parade of stylish people (and the odd stylish bicyle to boot).
Then it was down to Angouleme on the oh-god-fifty TGV service the next morning which managed to be delayed and mess up the seat reservations (may I just say now that the UK trains performed like clockwork and yes, the Bigtown-Carlisle service basically is clockwork). Fortunately my French, as well as not being able to fool Parisian restaurateurs, is not up to anything but the most direct ‘excuse me but you’re sitting in my seat’ and it turns out the French are just as bad as the English about insisting on getting the seat they booked**
Since then the weather has been glorious – well I think it’s glorious. It’s still about 35 C now at almost eight at night – the sort of bone-melting, limb-loosening heat I thrive in. It’s slightly putting a crimp in my plan that we can use our rented bikes to get between our chalet and the farm where my sister is. As far as I’m concerned, it’s perfect cycling weather, but the other half for some reason seems to think noon might be a bad time to be pedalling up a steep hill on a rented bike on a gravel road. Cuh. Lightweight.
* ‘We don’t do steak and frites,’ the proprietress announced as soon as I opened my mouth. Clearly I need to work on my accent. Fortunately we managed to persuade her we would be able to cope with a menu that didn’t come with laminated photographs of the food
** and in our defence, some Australians were sitting in what might have been our seats and weren’t taking hints either