Dijon to Bergerac

Bergerac Travel Blog

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My First HelpX Mission In France!

Dijon to Bergerac - 29th September 2009.

As I leave Dijon town on the 13.59 train to Paris, I reflect on my 16 months in France. Going in a reverse direction for a moment, today was quite stress free as far as things go. I locked the door of my apartment and thought here we go again, onto the next adventure to Bergerac, but stopping over night with a fellow traveller from www.hospitalityclub.org.  I am beginning my first ever www.HelpX.net mission and I’m been honest when I say that I am looking forward to it, although a little apprehensive! But then I’m Apprehensive about most things in General. I arrived at the station in good time – 1 hour before departure, had time to check my train information such as which platform it would be leaving from, before going outside to smoke a couple of cigarettes (I really should quit)! With still 15 minutes left before departure, I made my way to the platform, where further information was confusing, especially to a tourist who doesn’t speak any French perhaps? There were 2 trains leaving at the same time from the same platform!! I had never experienced this before in all my travelling days. Luckily I spoke a little French, having lived here for 16 months and so asked a fellow passenger and possibly traveller, if he could help me decipher the information. He explained that 2 trains were coming from 2 different places and would then ‘connect’ at Dijon and then leave together ‘connected’ to Paris!  The confusing part was that there were 2 train numbers to identify each one, but I was afraid of getting on the wrong one which might be the first to depart. Not knowing that they would leave ‘connected’ together! The journey time is 1 hour 40 minutes.

All things considered it was not a bad start to a very sunny day. The train is air conditioned not very full and the views of the rolling countryside or the “Green fields of France” minus any animals like sheep, cows and horses (which is odd) is beautiful and relaxing. There are however large bales of Hay and straw. On Arrival to ‘Gare du Lyon’ and after a quick cigarette (I still haven’t quit) it was time to work my way through Paris on the Metro system. My host had previously sent me good instructions via email, but you can still get lost in practise, well I can. At the end of the train platform the signs for the metro disappeared, but everyone seemed to continue to the left and under a canopy into the next building across the road. After about 5 minutes and no further metro signs, I stopped to ask somebody “where is the metro station?” the reply was (yes you‘ve guessed it) I have to go back across the road, turn right and down the first set of stairs, which turned out to be an escalator, then continue down another level, so we’re now 2 levels underground! Then I had to buy my ticket from the machine, before been able to access the platform, which was pretty simple as the machines have various languages to help the tourists. The languages been French, English, German, Italian and some others which I forget. I only had to change once on the metro system, before reaching my destination of Lumiere. My hosts Apartment was literally a 2 minute walk from the metro station and positioned above a ‘Bar’. Without further ado, I went into the bar for a well deserved beer, which was so welcome after breathing in so much metro dust! I ended up having 3 beers as I was too early to meet my host from work - a good excuse for more beer!

Finally, my host Jean-Marie arrived after I sent him an SMS message to let him know that I had arrived and was waiting in the bar! After the initial acknowledgements, we proceeded to his Apartment, which was small but practical for 1 or 2 persons. My stay with Jean-Marie was great, he is an excellent host and I would recommend him to anyone.

The following morning after breakfast, I made my way to the metro station once more. But this time it was going to be a longer journey as I had to make my way to Gare du Montparnasse for the TGV train to Bordeaux. This journey was pretty uneventful, until I reached Montparnasse. The Station and metro complex is HUGE, with lots of stairways, escalators tunnels and a conveyer belt (which didn’t work). It took me about 15 minutes to get from the metro platform to the train platform. So unlike me try not to bring too much baggage – I had a 65L Rucksack, a 20kg holdall and a laptop bag too. I have learnt my lesson!  So finally I have made it to the train, after grabbing a quick sandwich and bottle of cola for my lunch en route, which I shall eat on the train as the journey time is 3h10mins. There is a cafeteria car on the train, I decided to par-take in a coffee and packet of potato chips to go with my lunch – 4.50€!! Returning back to my carriage and seat, I decided to listen to some music on my MP3, whilst gawping out of the window and collecting my thoughts. This train was going to Libourne, where I had only eight minutes to get a connection to Bergerac – I hope I have enough time with all my baggage as the next train is a 2 hour wait. I needn’t have worried as there was NO train-it was replaced by a bus and even allowed me enough time to have a sneaky cigarette. The Bus eventually left Libourne, but took twice as long as the train to reach Bergerac. After disembarking the Bus, I had to wait about 20 minutes for my host (Juliet) to arrive. After the usual greetings and cheek kisses, we set off to my new home about 45 minutes drive by car away. I wasn’t quite sure how long I would stay here and I was a little apprehensive as it was my first Mission for HelpX.

On Arrival, I met the 3 dogs, Charley, Arley & Tosh. Next I was given the tour around the farm and shown to my room, which has a DOUBLE bed!! My first impressions were WTF and OMG. The Whole place looked like somebody had just upped and left. I was later informed over a glass of wine that the farm was actually deserted for 5 years before Juliet bought it 3 years ago. I knew I had my work cut out, but that was a good thing as it meant that there was no rush to move on any time soon; Subject to getting on of course! But hey, Its all part of the adventure, No? Hahaha!

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My First HelpX Mission In France!
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photo by: b-a-r-r-y