Tuesday, 6 October 2009

On to Orléans

River Loire at Orléans
From Paris we continued our holiday journey by train to Orléans. Long-distance trains call at Les Orbrais station, which is some distance from the town centre along a branch line. Getting off the Paris train we were surprised to find ourselves directed to the outside of the station for a connection. Apparently the local train drivers were on strike, so it looked as if we were in for a dreaded British-style "rail replacement bus".

Instead, right outside the station door was a tram stop, where we - and a hundred or so other passengers - were directed to wait. After a few minutes, along came a service tram heading for the city centre, scooped up the waiting crowd in seconds (train tickets valid) and deposited us minutes later just outside our hotel (although we didn't actually realise that and spent the next fifteen minutes wandering about looking for it!). In fact, the "tram replacement service" was so efficient it makes you wonder why the SNCF bothers with the branch line at all!

Having left Hereford, 150 miles west of London, at 07.48 we had arrived at our overnight halt 130 km south of Paris at 18.45 despite having allowed at least an hour more than was strictly necessary for crossing both London and Paris city centres on the way. The hotel receptionist offered us a map of Orléans and mentioned that there was an "animation" on the riverside that evening that we might find interesting. Just how "interesting" this would would prove to be to us she could never have guessed!

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