A long day from Beynac to Maisse

The TGV at Poitiers
The TGV at Poitiers

We left Beynac-et-Cazenac behind with a great deal of sadness. We really loved our two weeks in Beynac; and, in addition, it’s the last two-week-in-one-place stretch we’ll have until October.

Of course, we almost didn’t manage to leave. It turns out that there is “Beynac-et-Cazenac” where we were staying and then there is “Beynac” where we were not staying. Beynac is two hours closer to Poitiers where we are dropping off our car and catching the TGV to Paris. So we had been planning a leisurely departure at 10:00am after breakfast and some schoolwork. Luckily Jennifer checked the times and, shock and horror, we discovered it’s a four-hour drive away.

So after a 6am wake-up and 7am start, we’re now comfortably ensconced in a cafe at Poitiers station.

***

Driving North to Poitiers reminded us of how quickly France changes. There are sunflower fields around here too, but the sunflowers are only waist-high, not the towering triffids of further south. Fields of wheat are not yet ripe up here.

***

It feels a little strange being back up here in Poitiers. It’s made a big circle of the last four months; we were last here in April. In fact we had a meal in the same cafe we’re now siting in before catching the train down to Italy and Cinqe Terre. As we have only one more week in Europe we’re getting the feeling that a phase of our trip is coming to an end. (We’re also realising that from here on out it’s going to get colder for us very quickly.)

***

We’re about to catch the TGV to Paris and there are signs everywhere announcing that it is the TGV’s birthday. It was first launched 30 years ago today. It still holds the record for the fastest train on conventional rails.
It still left Poitiers ten minutes behind schedule today.

***

Paris Montparnasse was a crowded nightmare. None of the ticket machines were working properly and there were confused people milling everywhere. Luckily because of the late TGV we had missed our tight next connection and so had some time in hand to not get stressed by it all.
I’m sure the Pais Metro was once the envy of the world. Today it is grotty. Perhaps though its general grottiness is surpassed by the RER system – the train we’ve been on that most resembles the Sydney rail system, and that is not a compliment. In fact the seats even use the same fabric as Sydney buses.
While not loving the RER we weren’t worried in any way; we just piled up our packs and pulled out our iPads to while away the hour’s ride south from Paris to the outer suburbs. All was good until the pretty French girl sitting next to us leaned across and asked if we spoke French. “Hold on to your iPads tightly on the RER.” she said “It is not safe, lots of bad people.”

***

A great place to end a long day
A great place to end a long day

Finally, the best part of twelve hours after leaving Beynac-et-Cazenac we arrived in Maisse. We thought we’d have to walk to our house, but were greeted at the station by our absolutely charming host who drove us there via a guided tour of the village (which pretty much amounted to telling us which of the two boulangeries made better bread).

Within minutes the boys were ecstatic; our house is in an old mill with a river running through a garden the size of a couple of football pitches.
I was pleased with that, to be sure. But perhaps even more thrilled by the lovely home-made apple tart and couple of bottles of red wine sitting on the dining room table. All’s good.
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