TRAVEL with pat and lew

Paris Gare Lyon

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 22, 2007

It’s January. We own a 300 square foot apartment in southern France we haven’t seen since the previous July. We’re going to spend much of the summer in Collioure, but we can’t wait that long.

We decide to fly over to begin making our new home comfortable and connected. This time, we decide to fly to Paris (instead of Barcelona), take the train to Perpignan, and rent a car to drive to Collioure.

We lug along two oversize boxes, checked as luggage, containing art work and photos to hang on our apartment walls. In fact, we have so much luggage we can’t fit into a normal taxi at Charles de Gaulle airport, and have to wait for a larger van taxi.

The trip from the airport to the Gare Lyon train station in Paris takes about 30 minutes in moderate traffic. We’ve been worried for days about transferring our luggage and making the morning train. The next train isn’t until many hours later. But we make it with time to spare.

Outside the station, two men with carts magically appear as we exit the taxi. Who are they? Should we trust them? They turn out to be free-lance entrepreneurs waiting to serve the weary and confused.

They rush the carts to the ticket windows, wait for us to purchase our tickets, and then hustle us to the platform and to the train, which has not yet begun boarding passengers. They open the door. We’ll be the first to board.

Is it the right train? Our new friends the luggage handlers insist it is, but between their poor English and our worse French, we’re not sure. Then I see a small sign on the side of the train with the same train number as on our ticket.

Thus encouraged, we board and negotiate a fee for the services provided. We settle on 20 euros, which we regard as more than fair for helping us over logistics problem we had worried about for days. Next time, we’ll do it ourselves, but for this first time, we feel it was well worth the expense.

The train ride from Paris to Perpignan is pleasant and comfortable, and the food, like all food in France, is excellent.

LEW

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