France 2008, Day 1

Charles de Gaulle felt like a leftover from the 1970’s, stained concrete from France’s yesteryear as our 777 lumbered in across the tarmac. I watched confused, with little sleep, as travelers were herded into strange rotating chambers which allowed across traffic from security screening and preboarding into jet ways, while allowing people departing from jetways to walk along the perimeter of the airport building into a customs and immigration check. A human pipe valve, where the two streams of people never met but funneled through a plexi and glass interleave.

The general idea today was to get to the south of France. I was to meet up with friends of Iain in Paris, taking the TGV from Gare de Lyon towards Cannes, which is on the southern coast of France. From there, we could slowly drive alongside the coast on the way back to Toulouse and eventually Paris.

The first trick was to get across the city, which required me to take the Paris RER, a regional train. As it barreled into Paris, a gypsy woman approached each person, asking for money and proffering her small son as proof she needed it. The little boy quietly motioned for money as if taught to do so in unison with his mother.

Gare de Lyon from the basement seems like a set piece from a 1970’s low budget science fiction film. From the main floor, it has a strange tropical feel, with palm streets arching into the iron worked train shed. Not having booked early and getting to Gare de Lyon late taking the RER, the first train out would be 1:42PM.

As the TGV sped across the French countryside, we looked out and saw the bright green fields. I promptly fell asleep, jarred awake by passing trains every few minutes. By the time we made it to Cannes, the train had slowed considerably, as if to present us the grandeur of the ocean and the coastline. Every time the coast appeared from behind rocks or houses, I would pick up my camera, only to be disappointed when we passed back behind them before I got a shot out.

Cannes, at least from the train station, seemed to be a bit seedy, its Mediterranean style contrasting with Paris in the north. Television executives from across the continent appeared randomly in the station, replete with conference IDs on lanyards. Apparently there was a television conference in town, with buyers and sellers of new programming.

This is where the day seemed to fallen apart: Because we had left Paris late, the car rental place was closed. Cannes itself had no place to stay as the entire town was booked out for the conference, so we got back on the train and headed to Nice, where we could pick up a car from the airport there. By the time we found ourselves in Nice, it was late, which was just fine. I was tired, I hadn’t taken any good pictures and nothing was open for dinner.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s