Monday, 8 December 2008

France: Nîmes to Clermont-Ferrand

This was the most scenic journey on our 5,000-mile route. The train wound its way up from Nîmes, through the mountainous Ardèche and many tunnels. On and on, with rushing rivers below us. Quite a different France from that we saw on our flat run this morning - long views over the landscape with glimpses of Mediterranean coastline.

Getting into the train at Nîmes station, we settled ourselves down in what turned out to be first class seats. But the move wasn't arduous: the carriage next door had a nostalgic corridor down one side: we had a compartment to ourselves.

We arrived well after dark in Clermont-Ferrand, a huge place. (I suppose I knew this, but it was unexpected somehow.) The twin-spired Cathedral, Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, dominates the city, its black stone giving it rather a grim air. We had supper - pork and stuffed cabbage - looking out at a transept wall from the first floor of our restaurant.

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