Got back from another quick trip to France tonight.Â There were a couple of meetings today, but the first was at 10:00 so I went out yesterday.
Back in the old days I could have done it all in a day – when you could still fly from Gatwick to Orly and could turn up at the airport 15 minutes before take-off and still get on a plane.Now you can’t get to Paris at all from Gatwick so, despite living next door to an airport, it is a six-hour train journey.Â The time difference makes it effectively seven hours.Â Â On the plus side, being forced to go the day before means a chance for a little sight-seeing.
My heart wasn’t really in it this time though.Â I didn’t even bother to take my big camera.Â That was a pity because there are currently soem really neat statues of famous architects in the grounds of the Palace at Versailles.Â They look normal from a distance, but up close you can see they are actually very angular and almost abstract.
Not that I could have got good pictures anyway – it started raining as soon as I got to the Palace so I gave up and went looking for my hotel.Â Of course, by the time I found it the rain had stopped.Â All very frustrating.
But not quite as frustrating as coming home and missing the Brighton train by less than a minute and having to wait around for half an hour for the next FCC train.Â ((Do follow that link BTW – its brilliant!))
I had already had to wait around Gare du Nord for a couple of hours.Â Because we are encouraged to buy the cheapest, non-transferrable, non-refundable tickets I tend to book later trains so that if I get held up for any reason, or if the meeting time gets changed I can still use the ticket.Â If everything goes well I have loads of time to kill.
Gare du Nord is not the best place to kill time.Â Step outside the station and you never get more than a few metres without getting pestered by somebody begging for money or cigarettes or trying to sell you something.
Not complaining though.Â It is a change of scenery, and I do like France and the French railways.Â Top travelling tip I learned this time: wearing steel toecapped boots plays havoc with the metal detectors at Eurostar security.Â Loved the way the guard there waved his wand all over looking to see what set the alarms off and then whacked my toes with it to make sure they were really steelies.