Our plans for the past weekend had been settled, and seemed quite good. The starting point was to be an early train on Saturday morning from Gourdon (30 minutes from our village of Daglan) to Paris (a large city in the EOGDA, or Extreme Outer Greater Daglan Area).
Then came the terrible crash, the railway disaster you’ve probably read about.
We learned the news on Friday night just before bedtime: A train travelling south from Paris to Limoges had left the rails, crashing into the platform of a relatively small station, leaving a number of dead and many injured. It was truly a catastrophe for those involved, and the repercussions for rail travel in France were significant.
When we awoke on Saturday morning (at 5:30 a.m.!), I shaved and started showering while my wife Jan went online to check the status of rail travel. Sure enough, our train at about 7:15 from Gourdon was cancelled. So we decided to try for the 8:15, hoping against hope that it would be running and that it could get through to Gare d’Austerlitz, the usual stop for trains on the line up from Gourdon.
Well, the 8:15 train was running all right, but only as far north as Brive-la-Gaillard. After that, it was anyone’s guess how trains would get into Paris, since the rail lines north of Limoges were closed. Gamely, we pressed on, talking to conductors and ticket agents, trying to figure out what to do.
In the end, this was it: We took another train from Brive, westward and north to Limoges, and then waited. After about two hours, we took another train, still heading north and west, to Poitiers. Again, we had a two-hour wait, and took the opportunity to have an informal lunch with two Australian travellers who were also trying to get to Paris.
Meanwhile, I had sent a text message to friends Susie and Steve, who were visiting Paris from their home in British Columbia, Canada, and told them that we wouldn’t be able to meet them for lunch as we’d planned. With any luck, I wrote, Jan and I just might be able to be in Paris in time for our dinner reservation — at 7:30.
And so the final leg was to take a TGV (the high-speed train) from Poitiers into Paris, arriving at Gare Montparnasse around 6:00 p.m. From there, it was a taxi to our hotel, with just enough time for a much-needed shower before catching a taxi to dinner — to a Chinese restaurant inside the Shangri-La Hotel. And here’s the entrance to the Shangri-La, which as you can see is in the upper echelons of Paris hotels:
And our dinner, at the Shang Palace? Well, it’s earned a Michelin star, which means it’s (a) quite good and (b) not a cheap date. But more on that in tomorrow’s posting.