Mellow with mixed colours

From a busy, noisy week the next leg of the journey in France proved to be a calm and quiet juxtaposition. An opportunity to breathe and reflect, explore and take in a very different way of life.

Whaaat?!” exclaimed Chantal, staring at an email on her phone, “Oh no!” The blood drained from her face, she felt quite ill.

“Anything wrong?” asked Matthew quite unnecessarily.

“Yes, there is something wrong!” gasped Chantal, “A leg of our train trip on Saturday has been cancelled. Now what do we do?”

Matthew reached for her phone as Chantal plonked herself down on the couch, her head in her hands. He checked the validity of the message. You can’t be too careful these days.

Dear customer,

We are forced to cancel your train 871614 of 07/15 bound for BRIVE-LA-GAILLARDE due to production difficulties linked to staff absences.

We apologise for any inconvenience

liO Train Team

It was real. The middle section of the train trip from Montpellier to Limoges to visit his parents was cancelled. Now what do we do? With no alternative offered, and no response from the help desk we had to make our decision.

Matthew had spoken to his dad, David, earlier to explain our conundrum. David had come back with an alternative trip that would take us to a town closer to them and only involve one stop. The one downside was that it left at 07h30 in the morning. We would need to be out of our accommodation by no later than 06h00.

Chantal had taken out insurance when booking the original train route. The cover for the cancelled train trip adequately made up for the new one. Booking made. Panic averted. Fingers crossed.


The next leg of our journey

After a full and busy week we crept out of our accommodation at 05h30 leaving sleepy family members to catch a bit more Zzz’s. Everyone was leaving that morning at different times, catching a variety of transport to next destinations or home. Goodbyes had been said the night before.

Car safely deposited at its quiet spot in the parking garage (it did take us several attempts to find the exact floor), keys fed through the hole in the wall, we settled in at the Montpellier station to wait for our train and the start of the next leg of our journey.

By the time we reached our destination, Gare d'Argenton-sur-Creuse, the weather had changed. It had got progressively cloudy and foggy as we travelled. It had rained and the temperature was much cooler, a welcome respite from the flattening heat of Montpellier.


Moment to moment bliss, no matter the time or the place

Planned exits to happy greetings

Trains run to very strict schedules, with only two minutes to disembark, we had pre-planned our exit. Ready, steady, go! Matthew put his backpack on his chair, grabbed Chantal’s load of a bag from the overhead shelf making sure it did not clatter down on someone’s head. He put it to the side, so that Chantal could get out of her seat into the narrow passageway. He shouldered his rucksack and strode forward to claim his luggage from the back shelves.

Chantal hoisted her very heavy pack on her back and dragged her large, purple suitcase on wheels through the doors at the end of the car. These impatient doors insisted on closing on you if you took too long, and in the tiny vestibule tight with people and large baggage there were still the doors to the outside to manoeuvre through.

We stumbled down the narrow steps, wobbling and flailing, while battling the luggage bumping down the stairs behind us. Dishevelled and puffing we landed on the platform before the whistle blew and the train moved off.

Tristan, who had travelled directly to his grandparents earlier in the week, moved slowly towards us, a big grin on his face. David, looking happy and healthy in his light yellow golf shirt, ambled behind him. There were happy greetings all round as it started to drizzle very lightly. The drive to Éguzon-Chantôme, the tiny village where David and Edie live, was gentle. The countryside flipped by. The roads curved and wound through copses and past hedgerows. No rush. Little traffic.


The pace is slower, more measured and centred here

A quiet, calm juxtaposition

Our four days in the middle of France with other family was marked by quiet and calm, a valuable juxtaposition to the busy, crowded, noisy week in the sweltering south. It offered us the opportunity to take a breath, and to take stock. There was no urgency, no dash and drive in the heightened energy that pulses out of young people eager to do it all.

The simplicity of village life allowed for an unfolding of experiences in a more subtle way. We stepped into a very different lifestyle and in the stillness were able to absorb whatever the day presented. We were able to connect with David, serious and smiling, and Edie, bubbling and bright, on a level we were not able to before. We made meals together, helped in the garden and drank wine. We talked and teased and laughed a lot.


Life, but not as we know it. Steeped in the ages.

On foot, in a river and some ruins

We explored the village on foot. We had coffee at the cafe which was ten paces away. We bought baguettes at the boulangerie which was 20 paces down the road. The church, solid, stately and trimmed in white we could almost touch from the front door. Geraniums, begonias and petunias overflowed from boxes in a tumble of red, pink, purple and white and danced in baskets from poles creating a festive cheerful atmosphere.

We visited other small villages in the area. We had lunch at a pub run by an Irish brother and sister. People came from far and wide to sample their fish and chips! We swam in the river and walked through Roman ruins. All at a slower, more mellow pace.

As our time came to an end, we all vowed to come back. Will we? Maybe. In the last stanza of Robert Frost’s poem The Road Less Taken, he says:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Our stay in Éguzon felt like taking the “road less travelled” and it made all the difference.

Until next time.

Yours in feeling,
Chantal & Matthew


If you live with an open mind and heart,
who knows where the road less travelled may take you…

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