The metro always looks clean but early in the morning it sparkles as the stations are cleaned every night. We quickly travelled across to Austerlitz and found the train to Orleans in the new part of the station underneath an enormous concrete pad that is being built over the station. I presume the overall roof will eventually be dismantled. A supervisor was zooming around on a Segway.
Some things don't change and the train was a long one made up of Corail coaches. The toilets were locked until we departed because they dump onto the tracks. The 200 kmph cars are heavy and old but they are very roomy and comfortable and ride extremely well. The train only went as far as Orleans, stopping at Les Aubrais. It was full. There is a two hour service and one would think the SNCF should consider an hourly interval service of slightly shorter trains.
It was foggy when we left and the fog became even thicker as we approached Orleans - so thick that we could only see the concrete guideway for the Bertin Aerotrain (http://colinchurcher2011-01.blogspot.com/2011/05/tuesday-17-may-valencay-and-romorantin.html) experiments when we were very close to them approaching Les Aubrais.
|The fog was so thick that we couldn't see these concrete supports - picture taken April 2011|
|At the SNCF station.|
|The tracks for the new line B, including the centre rail have been laid in the city centre area. The view of the cathedral would have been marred by overhead wires.|
|Stained glass window in the old Mairie.|
|A porcupine is the royal animal and can be seen in many locations, particularly at Blois.|
|Stained glass window at Blois (taken in 2002)|
|The cathedral has a very high roof|
Time for lunch and we found a restaurant where we had veloute of potiron (Mary) (pumpkin soup?)/terrine of rabbit then confit de canard. With a bottle of Madiran this was a very filling meal. This is the first time we have had Madiran. It is a very dark wine, very similar in color and taste to Cahors.
|Sometimes it is better to stick to the language you know. "Part of the butcher in the green pepper" - which part? We didn't eat here.|
The old town is very interesting. There are many half timbered buildings, some with intricate carvings, and many of the stone buildings have very elaborate carving. The Christmas market was very busy. The kids were enjoying the ferris wheel, roundabout and skating rink while there was lots of chocolate and sweet and savory treats for all to enjoy. One stall was selling only sausages from the Auvergne.
Now it was time to take the tram from the station to the end of the line at Jules Verne and back to Les Aubrais. We arrived about 5 minutes before a train to Paris was due to leave. A SNCF demoiselle in bright orange high visibility clothing assured us that we could use our tickets on this train which ran non-stop to Austerlitz.
|The SNCF have hung a few decorations from the roof of Austerlitz. Will this come down when the overall concrete pad is completed? It would then become an uninviting concrete anonymity similar to Montparnasse.|