We headed off to Vence on Saturday 25th October and we'd decided to play it crafty. We took the grand old Bus 4 to Pessac, then the train from Pessac to Bordeaux Saint-Jean, then the train from Bordeaux to Antibes, then from Antibes to Cagnes-sur-mer. We'd arrive at about half past seven.
The Bordeaux to Antibes stretch is LONG. VERY LONG. We got on the train just before 11 and we'd get off just after 7, I think. Still, the refreshments trolley passed twice and we had stocked up with a flask of tea and various comestible goodies.
All went swimmingly till we were almost in Antibes. Then I looked at the time and we were late for our connexion to Cagnes. I texted our hosts in Vence. They asked hard questions, like "What time is the next train?" and stuff. We alighted from the train and charged up and down the platform looking for someone who would know something, anything.
Then I spotted on a display-board that the train to Cagnes was also late. HURRAH FOR LATE TRAINS! It came from Ventimiglia and was a super old thing covered with graffiti and with a very lively conductress who had a loud whistle.
We arrived just about 1/2 hour late and were conveyed to our flat.
On the way back we arrived at Cagnes station and wondered which platform our train went from. I asked two guys loafing round near the lift. L'autre côté, y'a l'ascenseur. The other side, there's the lift.
As we entered the lift I saw a train pull in and looked at the time.
"That's our train". I hurtled through the tunnel and up the stairs, with Catrin and Pat in hot pursuit, and got to the train, pushed the button to open the door and a bike fell on me. Propped the bike back up, pushed my way into the train, followed by Pat and Catrin, and breathed a HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF.
At Antibes we got some rolls from the station buffet (thankful for this impulse) and waited for our train. It was a short one. We were in the last wagon, wagon 7. We settled ourselves in, displacing a foreign lady who'd been sat with her shod feet on our seats.
The refreshments trolley didn't come.
Then we stopped. The train in front had broken down. There was a wait. Then it was explained that we were going to push the train in front into a station before continuing. It would entail a delay of about 2 hours.
I decided to stroll up and down the train. Still no refreshments trolley. No buffet either.
I noticed a man in SNCF uniform trying to break into a compartment by levering off a padlock with a big screwdriver. I almost asked him if he was robbing the train, but it seemed not quite the thing to do.
I regained my seat.
"A buffet service is available in wagon three"
Really? But I just came from there. I was worried about us not having enough to drink on our now-prolonged journey, so I went so to get some bottles of water. The buffet service was the compartment the guy was breaking into and a girl was now installed in front of a pile of crates selling chocolate bars, bags of crisps and bottles of water.
We entered Montpellier. We proceeded to Toulouse.
"Baskets are available for you, please show your ticket to the guard."
Pat went off and collected three boxes of SNCF emergency rations:
A tub of tuna salad, with some nice disposable cutlery in wood to eat it with.
Two halves of petit pain, toasted.
Two shortbread fingers.
A bag of nuts, raisins and papaya.
A bag of Haribo Tagada.
A colouring book and coloured pencils.
A most welcome bottle of water.
Instructions on how to complain.
So we proceeded till we got into Gare Saint-Jean some time after 11 and applied ourselves to getting home.
Bus 16, then bus 4 and at midnight we were back chez nous.