This the story of how Maxie, James A, KP, Chadders, Paul Nicol, Tarka, Garreth and Hautot got to Bergerac. Eventually.
All entries are French time. Zut alors!
12.55: On the Eurostar. We emerged from the tunnel (27 minutes late) to grey clouds and rain – so no one is feeling homesick.
We’ve learnt that Morgsy has missed his flight due to chaos and uncertainty resulting from the French General Strike, which is not great news.
But we’re in France! Only about 700 miles to go!
13.15: Garreth has announced his engagement to the lovely Lara! This has naturally caused great excitement and we are thinking about ways to celebrate this during the tour.
13.24: James Hindle’s teeth are already heavily stained with red wine.
14.05: Still on the Eurostar, hoping to get into Gare du Nord in about 20 minutes. We’ve just seen an aeroplane taking off from CDG airport, which raises the question: why did Ryanair have to cancel our flight?
14.17: Arrived at Gare du Nord.
14.36: In a taxi on our way to Gare Montparnasse.
15.15: A mad rush across Paris, followed by a titanic struggle with a ticket machine to buy tickets, and we have managed to catch the 15.15 TGV to Bergerac via Libourne. ETA at Bergerac is 19.34. The ticket machine offered at least 72 different types of ticket, all with uninformative French names. What does “Pro 2nd” mean? Plus it wouldn’t sell me 8 tickets all in one go. None of which would have been a huge problem, but for the fact that our train was leaving in 6 minutes from a platform on the other side of the station.
15.43: We’ve just heard that Rocket and Morgsy’s flight today has been cancelled. But Rocket has re-booked on the same flight tomorrow, so hopefully he’ll be able to join the tour. Updates on Morgsy to follow.
15.58: Poker school on the TGV.
16.40: Musings from the train: It’s a cliche that the trains in France are better than the trains back in Blighty. But most cliches are cliches because they are true. And this is not an exception. In terms of comfort, cleanliness, quality of the food and drink, speed, price and coolness of name (“Train Grande Vitesse!”), the TGV dumps on anything in the UK. Who says that state run industries are inefficient?
16.56: And Maxie is asleep:
18.30: A little taste of home! We’ve arrived in Libourne, to find that our connecting train to Bergerac is cancelled, and we have to catch a rail replacement bus.
19.04: Now on the rail replacement bus, and Garreth is enjoying himself immensely. In the words of KP: “He’s pulled, and what a stunner she is!”
ETA Bergerac is now 20.20 – very appropriate for a cricket tour.
19.13: We’ve just passed through St Emillion, to the great excitement of the oenophiles in the group.
Meanwhile, Hautot shows Garreth how it is done.
20.50: Arrived at last! It turns out that I can still ask for, and understand, directions in French.