Lyon; Museum of Miniatures; Lyon to Lille, crossing France with a brief stop in Paris

Lyon hadn’t really been a destination, only a stop on the way to somewhere else. There were a couple of options for us - to head west to Brittany or north into Normandy. Brittany has that Celtic antiquity and we wanted to go to Carnac to see all the standing stones, but the trains just wouldn’t work, so Normandy it was. The goal was to see the Canadian First World War memorial at Vimy Ridge, and the closest hostel we could find was in Lille near the Belgian border.

We killed a couple of hours before our train taking in the historical quarter in Lyon. The Museum of Miniatures caught our eye - there are hundreds of fantastically detailed, tiny dioramas. We didn’t go in, but there were half a dozen on display in the lobby, along with a documentary on the star miniatures craftsman. It was really neat in a weirdly autistic sort of way - the man has an amazing eye for detail. As we were leaving he himself came out of a back room and began touching up one of the displays. I thought of asking for his autograph, but decided not to on the grounds that it would take him all day and only be the size of a pinhead.

Lyon to Paris on the high-speed train was absurdly fast. When we reached Paris we had to get from the Paris Lyon station to Paris Nord through the metro. It was hellishly hot and crowded and they were playing Prince over the platform speakers. As we went we passed stations with famous names - Bastille, Champs-Elysées - and I wanted so much just to stop in Paris and drown myself in the city. Vimy was calling, though, and other countries beyond, and so Paris must wait until we return.

We had twenty minutes to catch our train after we arrived at Paris Nord, but it was immediately obvious that it wasn’t going to happen. There were fifty people in line for tickets and one wicket open. Having (finally? maybe?) learned our lesson, I called ahead to the hostel in Lille and reserved beds for us. So I did in fact see a bit of Paris, if one street outside the Gare du Nord counts. Paris to Lille on the Brussels-bound train was only an hour, and our walk through the city twenty minutes, so we were in good time to grab a bite to eat from a sandwich stand run by a Moroccan man. I realized talking to him that even though my French has improved recently I still can’t understand Moroccans that well - something in the accent defeats me.

It’s a funny thing, travelling. You read about somewhere in a book and decide to go there out of necessity, and it doesn’t match your mental picture at all. We’d both assumed that Lille was some sleepy little village, but it’s a huge city of a million people. So much for expectations.


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Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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