We made it from London England to Dijon France yesterday but arrived a little later than planned after missing our first connection in Paris and ended up on a later train. What an adventure! I don’t think I have been so confused in a very long time. Lesson number one – Ask. Lesson number two -Ask again. Lesson number three – keep asking.
Good people to ask in the Paris metro and train stations are the people at the small snack shops. They were the most skilled at giving clear directions. Better than the information centre. Who would have thought it? My assessment of RER Transit across Paris is mixed. I believe it is only for the brave foreign traveler or those that play video games and who are willing to keep trying to get through the doors and passages which appear to be hidden. I took us on a wrong turn someplace getting off the RER and after about half an hour of asking and searching I popped up like a gopher halfway down the loading area for the trains. This would have been fine if our two month continuous train pass had been activated but wasn’t and this is where we lost any hope of catching our first possible connection to Dijon. Since we didn’t come in the main entrance and we didn’t know the layout of the Gare de Lyon train station, we had no idea where the ticket office was located. I tried information and received some rough idea which didn’t seem to lead to anything resembling a ticket office. Then I asked someone else who worked in another part of the building but she didn’t know either.
After waving us off the same direction as the information counter David said “You poor darling. You have no idea where to go and I can’t keep following you.”
This experience and the five minutes to catch our train later when transferring in Sens almost finished him. When I didn’t see Dijon Ville on the list of destinations after we disembarked, I went and checked with the ticket counter. The service person had little English and of course I had about the same amount of French. But I had written out the train number, time and our destination in a little black pocket note book. This enabled her read my notes and not be distracted with my feeble attempts at speaking her beautiful language. She checked the schedule and let me know that we had five minutest to get to Platform one (voice raised hands making appropriate references to be sure I understood as she spoke her English words perfectly). This required quickly zipping across to a middle platform in the underground stairs with our luggage. I gathered David up and pointed him down a steep set of stairs and grabbed the end of our bag so we could go quickly. We then went about 20 feet and I pointed for him to go up an equally steep set of stairs.
Yes, I do believe he shouted in dismay. But we made our way up the stairs with a whole two minutes to spare.
As we whisk across the French countryside he is deciding what in the suitcase he is going to send home. But the yellow rapeseed fields are stunning and the regional train is quiet like the ferry home from Victoria. He is recovering. I hope anyway. Looking out the window I see trees with doctor Zeus like balls on them that must be a vine growing up the tree and forming these shapes. Dusk is falling and, even if I have almost no idea what the conductor is saying, the stillness of the end of the day is comforting.
But that was yesterday. This morning we woke early in our old walk up apartment with its French balcony and many tastefully added modern touches. The task was to find the Les Halles market.
Many streets in Dijon are pedestrian and bicycle only making it a pleasant city to walk both day and night. The market starts early and Tuesday is the local shopping day. As we slipped along the quiet streets with locals going to work it was easy to think we are just part of another ordinary day in Dijon.
The salt cod or morue caught my eye but only for its natural display beauty.
I would have taken more photographs to show you but I found an amazing food blog post by the Food Gypsy last evening when I was searching for where we could get groceries nearby. It is worth the read and the food photographs are stunning.
Instead, we went for coffee and croissants at the small cafe next to the market. We had taken a browse and wanted to carefully consider what we would purchase. This task needed a wee bit of fortification so as not to get more than we could eat in a couple days. After, we picked up a few items and started back to our apartment. The day was starting to pick up and the local shops were getting prepared for business.
The day tours were just arriving from Paris as strolled home and unpacked our provisions.
David turned on the French radio and we served up a late breakfast of strawberries drizzled with creme fraiche, parsley ham, sweet pears, ripened goat cheese and a chunk off a wood oven baked baguette.
I then went off to paint a block away in Park Darcy while David took a nap.
I chose the park because I wasn’t sure how people would react to my painting on the streets. However, I quickly discovered that painting is considered serious work in Dijon and many people stopped to comment, visit, ask questions and give their thumbs up of approval. My French is improving by the hour out of the pure delight and pleasure of warm conversation. The only slightly awkward moment was when a couple of oriental tourists stage-set a photograph with me. I should have seen it coming but only had enough time to look up and smile as the woman laughed and put her arm around my shoulders and her husband’s face disappeared behind his iPad to frame the shot. I am not sure if one short night’s sleep can even remotely qualify me as the local Dijon artist painting in Park Darcy.
But here we have it – APRIL MORNING PARK DARCY 8 x 10 inch acrylic sketch on tempered hardboard.
Getting tangled in the unknown and unfamiliar yesterday was worth it for the sweet welcome of the April streets of Dijon this morning. There is something extremely humbling about being at the mercy of others to find our way. It is only equaled by the release of finding we have succeeded and all do to the kind and open hearts and minds of others.
As an adult, what is a time you most needed to rely on the help of others to find your way?
© 2014 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.
Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com