First class all the way

We got up before the wake-up call. Had the buffet breakfast in the hotel to save time. It was fine. French breakfasts take a bit of getting used to – more modest, more like what you’d have at home than the all-you-can-eat buffet extravaganzas you typically see in American hotels.

After breakfast we realized we still had a bit of extra time, so off we went for a walk down to Blvd Saint Germain for some early morning window shopping. It was the dawn of another beautiful day. We were truly blessed.

Paris - St Germain

St Germain is one of the classic big boulevards of Paris. Cafés, shopping, people watching - it's all here.

Paris at that time in the morning is garbage trucks making their rounds, early risers getting their daily baguette (did you know the cost of baguettes is regulated by the government – I kind of like the quirky sense of priority inherent in that), cafes opening up with chairs and tables being arranged for that day’s crowds and a group of death metal fans looking a bit wasted in their doom and gloom black t-shirts, boots and biker jewelry, no doubt heading home after a late night thrash show.

The Death Metal look

This is an image grabbed off the net, but it was kind of like this. Interesting look at 7:30 a.m.

For us, little walks like this with nothing in particular to do were part of the fun of the trip. At home, we often go for walks with no real purpose than walking through our neighbourhood, getting a bit of exercise and having a chance to talk. Doing the same in Paris made it seem more like we lived there than as tourists on a “greatest hits” agenda.

Back at the hotel, we settled the bill and then got a taxi to the Gare Lyon. It reminded me Monet’s paintings of another Paris train station, Gare Saint-Lazare. Gare Lyon is still one of Paris’s grand train stations and seems to be the one for trains heading south.


Monet painted inside a few train stations. Imagine the noise and the soot inside Gare Saint-Lazare.

It felt like a big three-sided greenhouse with a glass roof and lots of windows high up on the sides. Instead of Monet’s steam engines bellowing smoke, we had sleek TGV trains hugging a few of the platforms, along with local commuter trains coming and going from other platforms.

Paris - Gare Lyon

In the cafe at the Gare Lyon.

Near the entrance was a café where we settled in by the palm trees and umbrellas for a coffee. Pigeons and other small birds flew around freely, with one eye on any crumbs that might come their way. We double-checked our tickets and the posted schedule. Everything in sync, running like a clock.

Paris - Gare Lyon cafe Marlene

Relaxing in the cafe. Good thing we kept our eye on the time. That's our waiter in the snappy turquoise tie.

First class to the south of France

First class was fine, but, on the way back, it was sold out and we went second class. Not much difference really. You can buy your TGV tickets online. Probably a good idea not to wait to the last minute. The train was quite full.

Now maybe we didn’t hear it, or maybe they don’t call it, but we didn’t notice any boarding call for our train. About 10 minutes ahead of departure, we headed for our platform, and sure enough, they were boarding. We had first class tickets too. Very nice!

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