I’ve always wanted to sleep on a train. It seemed like just the most romantic and soothing thing in the world. Who hasn’t seen one of those scenic, cross-Canada train trip ads in the Sunday news magazine and thought, “If only.”
Well, Thursday night I got my chance. Chris and Aurelie drove us to the Nice train station. Our train arrived pretty much on schedule. We found our car and got ourselves and our bags aboard. Stephanie and I had the top bunks in a compartment that slept four. Somehow I neglected to take any pictures. We said our too-quick goodbyes on the platform and spent a few minutes pantomiming through the window before the train began to crawl westward.
No one else came into our compartment, so Stephanie and I sat on one of the lower beds reflecting on the trip so far. A half hour later we were in Cannes, which was funny because it took longer to get there by train than by car.
Around then two woman, presumably a mother and her adult daughter came in. Turns out they’d been given beds in two different compartments and were hoping they could stay together. When the controller came to check our tickets, they were able to find another compartment with two available beds. So we had the “room” to ourselves until Toulon, the last stop, when a guy came on and promptly went to sleep. It was around 11, so we did likewise. I typed a little, and eventually dozed off
The thing about sleeping on a train is that the train is not always traveling in a straight line at a constant velocity. Which means the body experiences all sorts of subtle g-forces as the train goes around long turns and speeds up or slows down. Overall I slept pretty soundly, so much so that I was surprised then the conductor announced in French that we were minutes away from Gare Austerlitz, but on 2 or 3 occasions during the night I was roused by the effect of the train’s movement on my body.
We arrived to a cold, gray, drizzling Paris, and caught a cab to our hotel, the same one we’d stayed at when we arrived in France just west of the Jardins du Luxembourg.