After a week in Paris, and with the CE threatening to purchase a beret, it was time to go.
One last lovely dinner at Le Grand Colbert (thanks to Marie-Christine for the recommendation!) which, we discovered, was featured in the film Something’s Gotta Give. As soon as I saw it I remembered the scene – Jack Nicholson gets shut out by Keanu Reeves for Diane Keaton’s affections. Not even a little bit believable, but fun!
We packed (reluctantly) the next morning and set off for the train station. As I’ve shared before, even the mention of Penn Station can cause me to hyperventilate, so a trip to the Gare de Lyon with a non-English-speaking cab driver struck terror into my heart and caused the CE to recite all of the French invective he’d picked up from our experiences with impudent Parisian cab-drivers.
Lucky for us, a tall, calm, capable and, more importantly, bi-lingual young man stood at the curb and offered to guide us. We might have been convinced to hand over both our first AND second-born sons to him, or at least to shake every Euro from our pockets in exchange for finding our way onto the TGV train to Avignon.
He parked us and our luggage beneath the huge sign that announces the tracks and told us he would return in twenty minutes. With every shudder of the sign, we saw our train number move closer to the top and if the CE had purchased that beret, he might well have been chewing it by that point. True to his word, however, our new friend returned, took us to Track #17, deposited our luggage in the bin and asked only for “whatever we wanted to give him” in payment. He was not disappointed with the largesse of our gratitude.
Less than three hours later, our snappy and luxurious TGV train deposited us in Avignon, where we had absolutely no clue what we would do. Our unspoken thought was “how could anyplace compare to Paris?” But we were enchanted at our first glimpse of the medieval wall that surrounds the ancient city and quickly left Paris and the 21st century behind.
There was a hush in the walled streets and a milky light falling on the cobblestones in the waning afternoon light. We couldn’t wait to discover our new old city!