Laurie’s Excellent Train Adventure

Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out here…

Yesterday Laurie took the train to visit Mary for the afternoon. Now, trains here run right on schedule; we know that the trains from Paris stop at Bois-le-Roi (the stop for Mary & Gilles) and leave there at exactly 51 minutes past the hour, arriving in Montigny (our town’s stop) twenty-six minutes later. Every hour from 5:51 a.m. to 11:51 p.m. Except…

After a fine afternoon together, Laurie and Mary, knowing that the train leaves Bois-le-Roi at exactly 51 minutes after the hour, get to the Bois-le-Roi station a few minutes before 5:51. Sure enough, at 5:50, a train rolls in, stops for about a minute, and starts off, now with Laurie on it. It makes a stop at Fontainebleau, then at Moret, then at Saint-Mammès.

At this point, Laurie is thinking, “Saint-Mammès? We’ve never stopped at Saint-Mammès before,” and she sees the Seine River along side the tracks, which she has ever before seen on the Bois-le-Roi to Montigny trip. Panic builds. The next stop is Montereau, where everybody gets off, as the train has reached its final stop. Laurie gets off, too, finds a railroad employee and asks just how in the heck did she get to Montereau when she wanted to get to Montigny and just how in the heck is she going to actually get to Montigny? The employee, recognizing panic when he sees it, takes Laurie into an air-conditioned office with a bunch of SNCF workers, where they get Laurie’s cellphone out and call Mary – our landline number here wasn’t in the phone, Laurie couldn’t remember it and, as you’ll see in a minute, it wouldn’t have helped if she could. They do find Mary’s cellphone number and call it. Mary answers and Laurie tells her she’s in Montereau, because the train never stopped in Montigny. (In fact, the train never went through Montigny.)

So Mary calls me on our landline. I see that it’s Mary so I answer, but I can’t hear a thing. She calls again, with the same result. Our landline handset has decided that this would be a good time to act up. Mary then sends me an email asking me to call her. Fortunately, I was on the laptop, so I got it immediately, told her the phone was on the fritz and asked what was up. “Laurie’s in Montereau, that’s what’s up.” Could I go get her?

So I drove to Montereau – about twenty minutes away – and parked at the gare. No Laurie. I looked around, started toward the platforms, and here comes Laurie, with one of her rescuing SNCF workers. We thanked him, got in the car, came home and had some wine. Had copieuse wine, in fact.

Turns out that the trains southbound to Montigny leave Bois-le-Roi at fifty-one minutes past every hour except the 4, 5 and 6 o’clock in the afternoon trains. For those three hours the Montigny trains leave at 41 minutes past the hour, and there is conveniently a different train at 51 minutes after the hour that splits off to a different route after a couple stops and ends up in Montereau. But Laurie and Mary and Gilles didn’t know about the different departure time and so when the fifty-one-minute-after-the-hour-train arrived in Bois-le-Roi, Laurie figured it was the regular Montigny train and climbed aboard. Simple, eh? Except, of course, it wasn’t the train to Montigny; it was the train to Montereau. Laurie wants me to note that the trains are not marked with their route anywhere; you just have to know what train goes where.

Laurie was so thankful for the help that she gave her SNCF friends a jar of home-made apricot jam made by Mary that morning that she was bringing home. I’m sure they enjoyed that treat as much as Laurie enjoyed her wine when we got home.

Just another adventure…

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One Response to Laurie’s Excellent Train Adventure

  1. Carol Nelson says:

    How nice to have travel angels!

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