Travel: Le Voyageur

23 06 2011

Having worked at a frankly epic looking lime kiln and a reputedly 14th century chateau, it’s time for me to change course. Of course that means travelling… for 7hrs. Let the adventure begin.

Now, if you’ve ever had the joy of travelling on Britains finest transport you’ll know that seven hours is a mission and a half that will leave you well and truly deflated.

But this is France. Things are a little different.

The very best thing about using public transport in the UK are toilets. No, really, they used to be awful but more often than not you get access to a roomy cubical with good facilities. French toilets are enough to put you off whatever it was you were thinking of doing. It’s sort of like they grudgingly accept that no longer can they just use a convenient corner/window etc.

However, from my experience, the French then bring out the paddle and proceed to spank the Brits into the dust.

Right, I’m quite broad in the shoulders which means I tend to have to sit by the window so I don’t get my arm bashed by anyone and everyone who pinballs down the gangway. I’m about 20% too big for the seats, I kid you not. I’m also used to sitting facing forward because I can get pretty travel sick when going backwards. This is all applicable to buses and trains in the UK.

French public transport has yet to disappoint, it’s even been quite comfortable. As you can probably guess, I’m sat by the gangway and have yet to be hit by one person. Both the trains I’ve been on today I’ve been sat facing backwards, each journey lasting over an hour and a half. Feeling queezy? Nope, not even a little bit.

For someone who has used British public transport a fair amount (not by choice), the French trains are big, roomy, and just a pleasant experience. Hell, on the double decker TGV I was on I almost forgot I was on a train at all. Very smooth and reasonably quiet. Sort of like you’re in a room with someone who is watching a program about trains on TV. It’s there but it’s not intrusive.

Don’t worry, I’m not becoming a francophile, I’m just willing to admit that in this instance they got it right. Conversely the British got it right on the roads and the French are switching to a more familiar system. Considering the amount of road deaths in France, I’m not surprised. Shame the French have difficulty driving full stop. It’s enough to make you cringe just watching some of the stuff that happens.

So how are my travels affecting my mental health? You know what, it’s actually going really really well. Had an epiphany or two about things so I’m starting to understand the whys and wherefores. I won’t be going into them now or any time soon as I’m saving them for my book.

Yup, the book is back on. I’m not going to do things like a normal author. I can’t. It’s not my style. I’m just going to take things as they come otherwise it’ll go tits up.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll keep going and see where I get to. Expect truly epic pictures as I’m going to be deep in the mountains. Got to admit, I’m looking forward to this. My gut feeling is ‘Yes’. Let’s see if it’s right.




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