From Exeter to Avignon – a day of 4 cities

There’s something about travelling that is always a joy.

Over the years we’ve come to enjoy the process of getting somewhere almost as much as the actual arrival. Even the 16hr solo drive that Andy tends to do has been much improved with Audible books that help pass the time…. Apparently a great improvement as Pusscat isn’t the greatest conversationalist!

Pusscat isn’t the best company for a long drive

It doesn’t matter how we choose to do the journey to Provence – it’s always a different experience and until we can be teleported in seconds to our final destination we may as well enjoy the trip.

Today has been a day of 4 cities, starting in the beautiful Cathedral City of Exeter, then a quick stop to cross London to take the Eurostar to Paris, before heading on again to the final destination of Avignon & a reunion with our eldest son who is now happily living at our little place in Provence.

It’s easy to understand our eldest’s wish to stay in Provence

For once the train between Exeter & Paddington was quiet and problem-free (the last time I did it we were delayed and a number of people around me ended up missing their flights). Today though it was a delight to pass through a wintry landscape en route to what turned out to be an especially sunny London.

Sunrise on the way out of Exeter

I can’t help it, I always get a little bubble of excitement when I find myself in the City. It never changes and I end up feeling like a child, suffering sensory overload from the sheer busy-ness of the place, but just enjoying the experience, so inevitably I try to make the most of it. Luckily the places I need (or want) to get to are all relatively close to one another so I tend to walk whenever possible, just to get the most from my time there.

Today I had a little over 3 hours between trains so took the Tube as far as Oxford Circus before taking a walk down the always beautiful Regent Street….

Sunny but chilly Regent Street

… Through Piccadilly & Leicester Square before stopping for coffee in the always lively Covent Garden.

Leicester Square

From there it is a relatively short walk (just under 2 miles) to St Pancras for the Eurostar to Paris.

Final approach to St Pancras

First connection done & a chance to see a little bit more of London in the process – it’s always nice to go a little bit off the beaten track & see little things you’re not expecting…..

Just loved this leafy bike & gorgeous window

Or that put a smile on your face…..

Great Street Art

Then on to the Eurostar and a chance to sit back and watch the world fly by, emerging from the tunnel into a wintry but bright Northern France.

A bright arrival in France

Although this quickly turned to snow and the train had to slow before arriving in Paris…..

The Winter Wonderland North of Paris

When I have travelled by Eurostar before it has been a direct train and so this is the first time I have made the connection between Eurostar at the Gare du Nord and the TV from the Gare de Lyon.

It was nice to find that you can buy a ticket for the RER from the buffet car on the train for €1.70 (less than the price of a coffee). The chap also gave me great directions on how to find the train – go to the end of the platform, turn left and you then pick up the signs for RER – take line D to Melun for a couple of stops to the Gare de Lyon – he assured me it would take about 15 minutes.

Happily he was right, which was great as the station was incredibly busy, but his directions were good & the signs were clear & easy to follow – although at one point I felt like I was in the door warehouse of Monsters’ Inc with escalators seeming to be heading in every possible direction!

Quai 44 for the train to the Gare de Lyon

However within minutes I was on Quai 44, boarding the double decker train to take the quick couple of stops to the Gare de Lyon, arriving to trains waiting at the platforms in heavy snow!

Not quite the Paris I expected – heavy snow & very chilly

Time for an hour’s sit down before heading on again on the TGV heading for Marseille.

The TGVs in France are a great way to travel…. Fast, comfortable & above all generally on time, which was the case with the train leaving for Avignon.

I still find it astonishing that you can get from Paris to Avignon in less than 4 hours by train – it is so easy.

So on to the 4th city of the day and looking forward to a final arrival in Avignon, the gateway to the Luberon and a place that increasingly feels like home & more importantly a reunion with our eldest, which is always lovely.

Dartmoor to the heart of the Luberon in a little over 12 hours can’t be bad really & to be honest with the walk through London & a coffee in Paris, it’s been a very pleasant way to spend the day.

Time now to sit back & enjoy the rest of the journey & tomorrow I can get on with settling back into Provence

Bon Voyage!

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