Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vive Le RER

A reminisce prompted by a post on one of my favourite blogs. A few years ago, being the brave souls we are, Caz and I travelled to Paris without the safety net of an organised tour. The journey in worked like a charm, we just followed every one else from the plane to the train and managed to get off at the right stop for our hotel. The time spent in Paris was truly wonderful and if you ever get the chance, go. Caz, the brains of the outfit, had checked with the hotel and knew which train and at what time it left to get us to the airport in good time, the train’s left from the local metro station and they ran, I think, every ¼ of an hour. As luck would have it one had just arrived as we got to the platform, so we dived on with not a second to spare before it moved off. Then the doubt set in, there were two trains that ran on this line, one went to the airport and one Belgium (or somewhere that way on), but which were we on? Imagine a Y (well you don’t have to I’ve just typed one), with the base in Paris, the left arm ending at the airport and the right Belgium, this is our railway track, the solution to the problem is simple, as the train is stopping at every station we just wait till after the track splits and if we are on the wrong one get straight off at the next station and back track down the line.
So we wait and checked each station name until the train stops and the bulk of the passengers leave, but not all, at the other end of the carriage is a couple loaded down with suit cases, just like us. The announcement that proceeded the exodus from the train had clearly stated the words Charles de Gaul and what sounded like terminate (all in French which I speak just a bit better than I do Swahili) so added to the other people with suit cases I took this to mean that the train stopped at the airport, result. The train then proceeded to flash past the next few stations, without stopping and giving us only the chance to see we were on the wrong track, when it finally stopped all we could see was fields and the other couple at the end of the carriage.
Mild panic set in and in my best queens English I approached the other couple,
“Excuse me, you don’t happen to…”
“Thank god your English” interrupted the man, “is this the train to the airport, we saw your bags and thought it must be right”.
Mild panic rolled over to allow panic to set in. Then the train started slowly to move off, and park up between rows of empty carriages. At this point I could imagine the drive turning off the engine, opening the door, getting out and locking us in!!!
Panic turn in to terror as I started a mad dash up the train to get to the cab before the drive left, throwing the suitcases down after the first 50 meters I got to the door of the drivers compartment and hammered on the window.
A head appeared (this was post 9/11 and he looked at me as if I wanted to try and fly his train at the nearest building) with my outstanding command of the language I said “English”
He shrugged, tutted and rolled his eyes (all at once, as only a French man can) and with great distain, but with no surprise, lead the four of us off the train and down the side of the track, where he met another man who he handed us too with the comment “English”. With much care (as if talking to a 2 year old) this man stood us on the station and made sure we got on the right train. My main impression was that we were not the first to do this.



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8 comments:

Mo said...

hahahahahaha I hope you still managed to enjoy the rest of your trip.

Ranger Faff said...

You, monsieur Brett, are a natural story teller! That is just brilliant!! Bravo!!!

Love the pix, but after today's wonderful tale we must have more stories!! Know any about badgers, for instance? :-)

aims said...

Sorry Brett - but I laughed. I real good snicker too!

You and TBNIL need to get together and write some travelling stories!

Polergirl said...

Heheheheee! Your words bring the image to life, very funny :0)

travelling, but not in love said...

Lord. God bless those RATP employees. I can imagine the shrug and the look on his face as he said 'english'...

classy tale!

babooshka said...

At least it was a verbal english and not just a shrug. I agree your'e a natural storyteller as well as one of my favaourite photographers.

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

LOL! I've only had one much milder experience with a French man in London, but your story is priceless. Thanks for the good laugh!

Sophie said...

great fun!

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