Life at 300 km/h
Trip Start Dec 04, 2004
37Trip End Feb 24, 2005
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Getting back to Nantes...
After we had our lunch at Cyber Kebab we walked down the rue pietonnes (pedestrian streets) back to the north-south tramline (#2). Where the pedestrian streets cross larger roads people seem to just continue wandering across as if it didn't exist. It's quite bizare, the motorists seem used to it as we didn't witness anyone being flatenned during our stay in Nantes. We rode the tram north to have a look at the river up around the university, walking back through some parks past the faculty areas, whilst also investigating laundromat locations. The mild weather, of around 12 degrees helped us along, the weather has been very similar for almost a week now, but it looks as though the rain will return soon
Back in the center of town on the tram we stopped for a quick refreshment break and a check to see if the cinema had any V.O. (Version Originale) movies showing, which it didn't, we continued back on Line 2 heading south. We wanted to see the other side of the city, which seems to be more modern and crosses several waterways. I suspect these would have limited the development in the past. We visited a post office out of town as the queues here were short for once (queues in French post offices in towns are extreme), before continuing back up again.
To wrap things up for the day we headed back to the station on the tram, where we collected timetables and other relevant information before walking back to the hotel, which was on the southern side of the line.
Just after breakfast at the hotel Charles relaxed in the room whilst I walked across the road the get some video of the trains coming from the coast or the big yard on the other side of town
Later we used the timetables collected the previous day to plan our second day in Nantes. We hopped on a Corail train that was heading out from Nantes towards the open Atlantic ocean. Nantes itself is just on the ocean, though more on an inlet or large bay. The train took us out to Le Croisic, a small town at the terminus of the line, right out on the Atlantic. It was our little trip to the "seaside", where we spent the afternoon with the sea gulls. Along the way we passed St Nazaire, a larger port town which houses a ship building yard and the 2nd largest Airbus facility. Sadly tours of these facilities are not offered in January.
We caught the first TGV of the trip back to Nantes. It was the usual bumpy ride that you expect from the TGV, with interior furnishings far inferior to that of the Germans' rival product, the ICE.
We didn't end up using the laundromat here, procrastinating until Paris.
Yesterday was our last in Nantes, we used the morning to soak up the last of our surroundings before hopping on another TGV, this time going all the way up to Paris. During none of our morning in Nantes did we smell the biscuits, perhaps the factory is closed or our hotel too far from it. Our car was in the first train of the double set, so it was waiting at Nantes for about 30 mins before departure, unlike the second set which was arriving from Le Croisic, spending only about 5 minutes in Nantes.
The train only stopped once, at Angers, before continuing on the conventional track to Le Mans, shortly after which we hit the LGV (Ligne a Grande Vitesse) to Paris. The TGV really lets you know that you're travelling at 300km/h as it rocks around, proving that the track could do with some straightening. The ICE journey we travelled on at 300km/h was much smoother, not to mention the higher standard of the interiors and onboard comforts like audio channels etc. Though the TGV is the fastest train in the world and we were travelling on the line that it made the record of 512.8km/h (I think that's right) on.
We arrived on time at Montparnasse station in Paris, after about 35 mins on the LGV (that's still a good 150km of high speed track). We descended down to the Metro that we've come to know and love, travelling for quite a while and changing at Place d'Italie to avoid Chatelet, to allow us to get up to Laumiere. This is our station, near the Porte de la Villette in the north, a significant trip across Paris from Montparnasse. Thankfully this time the local station IS open during our stay.
We started off our time in Paris in the best way possible: with a visit to Galleries Lafayette (biggest department shop in Paris). We used the viewing deck on the top (8th floor) to survey the city, before satisfying Charles' cravings at the Haagen Daas ice cream shop on the ground floor. Moving on we took the Metro to Ecole Militaire, from which we walked down the famous Champs de Mars to the foot of the Eiffel Tower, just as we had done on the last visit. Unfortunately this was a Saturday at dusk, when the whole world seemed to be flocking there, the queues to get up were spilling out onto the street! We decided to give it a raincheck until a weeknight in the hope of smaller crowds. To continue the shopping theme we moved on to the Champs-Elysees, which Charles confesses he didn't walk down on his last trip! We checked out the VO cinema scene, but these too were packed. Getting full advantage of our Cartes Jeunes, which are all day youth tickets we travelled out to La Defense to see if the previously closed Grande Arche was open. It was, so we grasped the oppourtunity to view Paris at night from this tower of sorts. Up there was an art gallery as well as viewing decks!
Out of time,