Monday, 12 September 2011

Three trains, one underground & a whole lot of scenery...

We had to wait right until the end of the summer for our holiday this year, but it was worth the wait. Amidst much excitement, anticipation and adrenalin which covered how very tired we were at starting the day so very early, we set off to catch our first train. Up to London via train and underground (never a good experience with luggage) at the crack of dawn to catch Eurostar. Laden with luggage, books, magazines and croissants we boarded the train at St Pancras and before we really had time to adjust to French time we were in Lille.

Just enough time for us to decipher where we were to board our TGV southwards (we had forgotten just how stressful this bit can be). Searching desperately for your coach number, locating the boarding point along the very long platform, negotiating the stairs, lift and escalators with 100s of other passengers and somehow managing to watch aghast as our youngest daughter disappeared with her luggage in one hand down an escalator whilst we stood waiting for the lift. I will never forget the look of horror on her face as we set off as fast as our luggage allowed in hot pursuit of her!

Excitement over, we somehow managed to hurl ourselves and half of the girls' wardrobes onto the train and sat back ... and relaxed... and smiled ... and ate ... and smiled ... and read... and smiled ... and played cards ... and smiled.

And all the while the everchanging beauty of the French countryside surrounded us. Through flat green fields, lush green pasture lands, through rain showers, clouds and brilliant sunshine we headed south. The alps to one side the Massif Central on the other as the landscape grew more dramatic, the temperature rose. Medieval hilltop villages, olive trees, meandering streams, majestic rivers flowing through Provencal cities. Plane trees, poplar trees, cypress trees and olive trees.

When i was at University I spent summers driving up and down the length of France and had vowed to do the journey this way ... I think the other passengers could gauge by the squeals of delight coming from our table just how happy we were.

Five hours and hundreds of kilometres later we found ourselves on a blisteringly hot Provencal train platform, negotiating once more the stairs, lifts and escalators ... a quick bus trip took us to our final destination and after the obligatory "I think it's this way, no that way, no, this way" walk to our new home which took a good half an hour longer than necessary, we arrived at a huge 19th century wooden door that would be our front door whilst we were there.

We arrived to half locked shutters, with tantalising glimpses of the view beyond

Views to the left of an already setting sun from our terrace against the bluest sky I had seen in a very long time

And just looking to the right stood the most beautiful 13th century church that would waken us each morning and frame our glorious view across centuries old chimneys, balconies, shutters and weather worn and sun bleached terracotta tiles.


Thimbleanna said...

Wow -- Where to WE sign up??? It looks like a wonderful vacation -- so glad you and your family had a little escape (and that no one was eaten by an escalator!)

Elizabethd said...

How lovely! The French train system is amazing, once you have discovered how the boarding works. Glad you had such a good holiday.

French Knots said...

Oh it looks blissful! I much prefer the idea of travelling there by train than hours squished in a car.

Sea Angels said...

Oh what a lovely journey..and I loved where your village is its so pretty..
Glad you had a super time xxx
Lynn xxx
I flew I have a bad shoulder so it was much easier to do that but your train journey seems to be so much better xx

Emma Herian said...

You whisked me away to that gorgeous scene in Enchanted April when they arrived after a hair raising travel in rain and thunder (which luckily you didnt have!) and opening those shutters in the morning!
Beautiful pictures, cant wait to see more xxx

Cowboys and Custard Mercantile said...

This was far too brief an encounter.. Encore encore!

Lisa said...

Hope you will be sharing more of your hols. How wonderful there wasn't a plane involved.
Lisa x

Karen said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I agree with Michele - looking forward to reading more about your adventures. Karen X