Trains, Trains and more TrainsSeptember 9, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C
Although there is no doubt we had all thoroughly enjoyed our time in Aigues Mortes, after two days of relative inactivity, we were starting to get itchy feet (and I am not referring to the tinea commonly experienced by some other travellers). We actually were ready to resume our cycling. The only problem was that first we had to traverse about 600 km of France to reach Nevers where we were to begin our ride along the Loire River.
When I was putting this trip together I thought that it would be a good idea to include a couple of day's break between the end of section one and the start of section two. This turned out to be a very wise move as we discovered that it is basically impossible to get out of Aigues Mortes at the week end.
Although there is a train station at Aigues Mortes, the long grass growing up between the rails is clear evidence that the line is not exactly frequently traversed by trains. In fact we found that the 11:52 am train to Nimes is basically the only option and it only runs on weekdays.
In order to make our way to Nevers we would have to somehow negotiate a complex sequence of train connections and a glitch in any one of the these connections could have potentially disastrous consequences.
The long odyssey began with a walking peloton from our hotel to the station. We piled our mountain of luggage in a strategic position and waited for the train to arrive. When it did finally roll into the station, we were horrified to find that it was more like a bus than a train. It only had one carriage and that was already filled with passengers from the previous station.
We had no choice other than to resort to brute force. Fifteen elderly Ghostriders jammed cases into every available space (mostly in the middle of the single aisle) and then tried to find a place to stand. I spent the next 30 minutes balanced on one leg and trying to avoid falling into the pram that was pressed against my other leg. To make matters worse, the airconditioning was almost non existent and the temperature was soon soaring. It was not a pleasant start to a long journey.
When we arrived at Nimes we all were exceedingly glad to be free of the train. Since we had a 90 minute gap before the next train was due, we took the opportunity to get something to eat for lunch. The next train would be a first class ride to Dijon. At least we would look forward to reserved seats. The only problem was that, when we reached the platform we were told that the "train was retarded". That was not the news we wanted to hear, especially as we only had a 20 minute break at Dijon before we had to catch the final train to Nevers.
Our train was indeed retarded and became more so as the trip progressed. Although the scenery was absolutely glorious, I was too stressed to really enjoy it. It was soon obvious that we would have no hope of catching our third connection and I had horrific visions of having to spend the entire night sleeping on the railway platform, surrounded by our luggage. At least the wifi on the train was excellent, easily the best we had experienced in our entire trip so far.
Of course we arrived at Dijon, just in time to see the train we wanted to catch, disappear into the distance. This could have been catastrophic, but we did discover that there was a second train due to leave in about 40 minutes time. At least it looked like we would be able to reach our hotel, but probably too late for dinner.
Although it had not gone exactly to plan, we were delighted to discover that the train to Nevers was almost empty. We spread out over an entire carriage and started to misbehave terribly. It had been a very long day in transit and the combination of stress and sugar was starting to make the group act like kids at a red cordial fuelled birthday party. The few remaining locals in the carriage soon departed for other quieter parts of the train.
We finally rolled into Nevers at about 8 pm. The light was fading and the temperature was dropping as we rolled our cases up the deserted main street to the Best Western Hotel de Diane. I was relieved to find that the hotel reception was still waiting for us and they informed us that we had not missed our dinner after all.
We were even happier to find that the rooms were amazing - large, clean and comfortable. Best of all was the fact that the dinner was absolutely superb. As each dish was presented to us, we relished every mouthful. The benchmark for dining has now been set at an absurdly high level. It had been quite a day. Tomorrow we will be back on the bikes again.Read more