Finding A Silver Lining – Orléans and Paris Intro: An Unavoidable Change of Plan

In the years since we’ve taken this trip I’ve never felt like writing it up. Despite some great memories it just never felt right to turn this trip into a trip report, but with the passing of time it makes more sense than ever to share this short break, one that ended up playing out as a full emotional symphony.

We’d always wanted to visit Anne-So’s Godfather in Orléans for as long as I can remember, but it was never an easy matter.   Orléans was at the wrong end of the country for visiting Anne-So’s family and her Godfather was a busy man. Between his professional duties, civic duties and love of travel it wasn’t easy to find the time, so usually he would head south for the important occasions like birthdays and Christmases.  However, things changed and changed fast.  He retired and in theory we’d all have had more time to visit, but as is often the case life doesn’t always go the way you want it and so we come to this trip.

By this point we both knew that Anne-So’s Godfather wasn’t doing so well and this trip to visit him become more urgent by the month.  Despite his condition he was outwardly optimistic and was still looking forward to our visit. We’d agreed a date in mid October and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately it turned out we had scheduled the trip too late and a few days before we were due to travel we found out we’d have to reschedule, as instead we’d be travelling for his funeral.  In what was already a stressful time we were hugely grateful for having a small stash of Avios.  The amount of money Eurostar wanted to exchange our tickets was more than we’d paid for them so instead we made use of the one handy difference between the Eurostar and the plane…  We just decided not to use our outbound ticket and instead fly with BA to Paris as even after factoring in the cost of travel to London it was a better option.

We took the train to London late Sunday afternoon and spent the evening with our friend which enabled us to make it to LHR at a reasonable time on the Monday morning, avoiding the horror that is the peak fare from Canterbury to London.  Our morning voyage started with the Piccadilly line to Heathrow Terminal 5 where we checked in and sat quietly in the departures area.  This was one of the very few flights we’d taken from T5 without status or a Club or First ticket.  The other that springs to mind was also to Paris one Christmas, but the less said about that the better!

Train: Eurostar Ashford to Paris
Depart: Ashford International 06:24
Arrive: Paris Gare Du Nord 09:17
Seats: Carriage 14, Seats 27 & 28 (Standard Class)
Train: Class 373 Eurostar e300 Top Speed 186mph

Flight: BA334 London to Paris
Depart: LHR 12:00
Arrive: ORY Unknown
Seats: 10E and 10F (Euro Traveller – Economy)
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200 (G-EUYT First Flight 04/02/2014)

Thankfully our flight to Paris was uneventful but it did have its moments.

Second it was our last BA economy flight with free food and drink and no matter how sombre the occasion a G & T always takes the edge off.

Finally the cloud formations were stunningly beautiful and despite not having much in the way of religious belief inside me it was almost enough to make me want to believe there is more to this world than just mankind.

We got off the plane, collected our bags and took the airport bus to the nearby RER station, Gare de Pont de Rungis where we took line C all the way through to Austerlitz station. 

We took our lunch to the nearby Jardin des Plantes where we found a nice bench and enjoyed our food.  As always a simple baguette just tastes better in France and the almond tarte was an added bonus.

After half an hour or so walking around the gardens the dark clouds that we’d spotted from our flight began to work their magic and the rain came down.  Not wanting to be soaked ahead of our train journey we made the decision to wait it out at the station.

Train: Intercity 14059 Paris to Orléans
Depart: Gare d’Austerlitz 17:26
Arrive: Gare d’Orléans 18:32
Seats: Unreserved (Standard Class)
Train: BB7200 Top Speed 99mph

Our standard class coach consisted of old fashioned and therefore nicely padded grey seats in a 2:2 formation. 

The journey passed without incidence as just over an hour later we found ourselves at Orléans station.

Hotel: Hotel Marguerite
Room: Apartment
Status: N/A

I’m not going to lie but the next 24 hours were one big blur.  The in-laws had found us an apartment at the top of Hotel Marguerite where we’d stay for a couple of nights with the French heading home after the funeral and us spending a few days alone in Orléans at the Airbnb we had originally booked.

What I do remember is eating a bad meal at a nearby pub, filling up on a huge amount of takeaway food, the welcome distractions from wrangling a toddler and a naughty dog and the absolute huge turnout at the funeral which included family, friends, colleagues and even the local Mayor.

In the next part we enjoy the beautiful, historic city of Orléans and some absolutely stunning food.

Finding A Silver Lining – Orléans and Paris

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