Back to the LoireOctober 6 in France ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C
I must admit that we all felt quite emotional. It is not easy to say goodbye to friends you have shared so many experiences with over the past few weeks. It was also something of an acknowledgement that our time in France was inevitably coming to an end.
Kay and Annie were catching an early train from St Malo to Paris airport. In a few hours they would both be on their way back to Australia. A couple of hours later we were farewelling Gael and Gerry as they headed off to spend a few days in Paris. That meant we were down to just the two of us. And where will will be going ? We will actually be heading right back to where we were about a week ago.
It was time to pam (ie cram) the suitcases again for another train trip. With bulging zippers we said goodbye to the girl at the desk of the Beaufort Hotel. It had been our fourth stay at this hotel and we told her that we both hoped it would not be the last.
As soon as we started rolling our way towards the train station, we started to miss the sound of the ocean. That continuous white noise of the waves and tides really does work its way into your subconscious. It is certainly a magical way to drift off to sleep.
Our plan was to travel back to Nantes - the place where we had seen the giant automated elephant and dined like royalty at La Cigalle. That meant catching the train from St Malo to Rennes and then getting a second train to Nantes. Although the French make amazing trains that can cross the nation silently at 300 kph, their station design leaves a lot to be desired.
It is apalling that so many of their stations still have no lifts or escalators. There is often no alternative to manhandling suitcases up and down long flights of stairs. I cannot understand how anyone with any sort of physical disability would manage. It is bad enough for people of "senior years", like us.
Even if you successfully manage to get your luggage through the station and on to the correct train, there is almost no storage room on the trains for suitcases. We have often had to jam the case into the same seats we were sitting on and then have an extremely uncomfortable journey as a result.
At least the train to Rennes was only partially full, enabling us to grab a couple of spare seats for our luggage. We then sat in fear that additional people would board the train and demand those two seats. Fortunately that did not happen and we made it to Rennes without incident.
With only a few minutes to catch the next train, we performed the "suitcase two step" between the platforms, arriving exhausted at the Nantes train. In the process I think I also managed to do more damage to my back and knee. This really is the not so glamorous part of travel.
Although the Nantes train was more densely populated, we somehow managed to find a tiny piece of space for our luggage and sat down to enjoy the wonderful scenery outside. An hour later we were getting off the train at Nantes. Ity almost felt like being back home again as the place was familiar. It was also significantly warmer than it had been in St Malo, so we were soon discarding our coats.
After checking into our hotel we wandered back into the streets of the centreville. One shop caught our attention. It was an optical shop with a slogan "10 Euros in 10 Minutes". And yes, it is true. They can make you a pair of glasses for 10 Euro in 10 minutes. Everything is highly automated and done in front of your eyes. You don't even need an appointment OR a prescription as they can do a high tech eye test on the spot. It seemed an incredible concept and we would have gone inside and given it a try if it had not been a Sunday and if they had not been closed. I could do with a spare pair of 10 Euro glasses.
Tomorrow we will be colelcting our hire car from the depot and then heading further south to the Dordogne region.Read more