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    • Day 26

      Never a dull day in Paris?

      September 18, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

      With the loss of Brian's drivers licence, we would no longer be able to hire a car to explore Carcassonne and the surrounding district, which caused some disruption to our plans. Plan B is for us to travel by train from Toulouse, where we were to have collected our rental car, to Carcassonne. We also needed to organise train travel later from Carcassonne to St Exupéry airport in Lyon so we could catch our flight home. Brian spent over two frustrating hours on the iPad trying to make online bookings, but nothing was working. In the end, he gave up.

      We then went for a bit of a wander round our immediate area then strolled across the beautiful Pont Alexandre III and on towards the Place de la République. Unfortunately, it was still filled with a lot of temporary structures from the previous day's concert, so it wasn't looking its best. We knew that we'd be seeing again (and again) in the next four days before we leave Paris, and by then the place will be looking attractive again.

      We were very much looking forward to catching up with our old friends Ian and Eileen who were coming over to Paris from Harrogate to join us, so we decided to head to Gare du Nord and meet them there. It was a dual-purpose visit, as Brian decided that the only way that he could complete his purchase of rail tickets was to get them in person at a station. That part of the mission was more or less easily achieved, though it turned out that our friends' arrival time was a couple of hours than what we'd understood it to be, so we decided to wait for them back at our hotel instead.

      Not much excitement so far, but that was about to change. Just one Metro stop before our own, we suddenly heard a lot of shouting and saw people sprinting along the platform. Just outside the window of our stationary train, one man leapt onto another one, who was running as fast as he could, and tackled him to the ground in true rugby style. Several others then helped to sit on the fugitive. Our train was stopped at the platform for a good 20-25 minutes while we got a grandstand view of it all. It took a few minutes for the gendarmes to arrive, but when they did, they were swarming all over the place. We assumed that the fugitive was probably a bag-snatcher, and a couple of good Samaritans had made sure that he didn't get away with it. The police were less than gentle with him, which Brian was pleased to see with his stolen wallet fresh in his mind. Unfortunately one of the pursuers appeared to have broken his arm in the scuffle, but at least justice was done and we saw some excitement.

      Late afternoon, Ian and Eileen arrived at our hotel, where they'll be staying for three nights. We first met them at Fibremakers in Melbourne, where we and they were on secondment from New Zealand and the UK respectively. We had young families at the time, and found that we had a lot in common. Since then, we've visited one another on a few occasions, the last time being about nine years ago. It was really great to meet up again like this. We had a thoroughly enjoyable meal at a nearby restaurant while we excitedly caught up with one another's news. A day which started slowly finished really well.
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