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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Friday, September 20, 2013

France by train

It's been a lovely week traveling by train in the south of France, challenging at first in dealing with an unfamiliar mode of transport  mode of transport in a language I don't speak. But just as any new experience becomes easier with familiarity so did the process of changing trains, and finding the correct platform, car and seat.

After a day in Paris our group of writers began our journey at the Gare de Lyon, one of four major train stations which surround Paris. Our start was delayed when one of our group couldnt be found so we ended up rushing at top seed with luggage. Thank goodness our overnight had been at the Novotel Gare de Lyon, right across the street from the train station. We made it just in the nick of time...not the greatest way to begin a trip  since jet lag was compounded  by the adrenalin of anxiety.  But soon we settled into our seats, strolled up to the dining car and ordered breakfast, which we could eat there or take back to our seats. Amazing what a croissant and cafe au lait can do for the disposition.

As we headed south toward Aix en Provence, a lovely palmy college town where Cezanne lived for much of his life, we saw the characteristic white cows of this part of France, and the agrarian lifestyle which seems little changed over the centuries. The high speed TGV train,  which travels at a 295 Km/hour speed, doesnt pass through towns or areas where a chance person or animal could wander onto the tracks, so the views are timeless ones. Our trip was made easy by Rail Europe tickets purchased in advance. It's late harvest season there as here and the weather, which began with sprinkles, soon gave way to the sunshine for which this part of the world is known.

I'll tell you more in coming weeks, here on my blog and in the travel section. So stand by to share my journey, warts and all.


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