Traveling in France : visiting family, small and provincial railway stations

Hans van der Kruijf,  Wednesday, 20 September 2017

High speed train 

For the French, traveling mainly means visiting families.
Although French people do not like to live in areas other than their native soil, there are of course many French families who live hundreds of kilometers from each other. With weddings and holidays, it is time to find each other.
A large rented holiday home or the second house in the campaign is often the meeting place where the whole family comes in the summer and public holidays.

It can originate from a latent xenophobia or a great sense of nationalism, but few French people can be found abroad. They are unable to adapt to non-French customs and usually do not speak a foreign language.
Of course, they have so many different holiday options in their own country that there is a domestic destination for every type of vacation. And for those who want to go abroad, there are the Club Meds on the colonial islands: everything like home, yet far away.

Most people now travel by car, but the train stations belong to life in France:

A small station in the late afternoon light, where the regional train stops briefly to disembark a lone passenger. Only with the luggage left behind in the sloping landscape, the long straight road to the village. No bus, no taxi comes here. The road is still warm after a day full of sunshine. In the heat, the village is hidden in a valley, with the church tower as the beacon on which the traveler has to focus.

The station of the provincial city with a couple of platforms and a real canopy, which used to know a coming and going from the neighborhood railway trains and are now abandoned waiting for the express train from Paris to stop. To kill the time there are inviting vending machines with sweets and coffee. The station restaurant was closed long ago, but Hotel Terminus is bravely standing on the other side.
The city lies further on, beyond the now abandoned marshaling yards, to the side of the railway tracks that are as if by chance along the town, but actually, do not want to be part of it.

The big stations with their former grandeur. There are now shiny TGVs at the platforms ready to swell out to all corners of the Hexagone. They are gares en cul-de-sac: A train cannot pass by carelessly. When the brakes are put on for the last time in front of the bumper blocks, the long journey is over.
The city opens up for the traveler; the streets run straight through the large hall. At the station square, there is a variety of brasseries, restaurants, cafes, and hotels for every kind of meeting.

Creative Commons-Licentie This article of is subject to a license. Based on . Translated from the Dutch language by Jos Deuling.


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