We had planned to start with Nice which is close to the Italian border. Our first ride was going to go all through the night so we made an expensive reservation on two beds in the sleeping car. However, there were two important things we were not aware of:
- [A] On Interrail, what you plan never works out and
- [B] French trains are always late.
That’s why, on our very first day, we got stuck in Metz which isn’t even halfway to Nice. Somewhat confused (and worried), we stood right there, in the middle of an empty train station, at 9:30pm, desperately trying to figure out what we could do and trying to get help from one of the workers there. At this point, I should mention rule
- [C] which says: never expect too much help from these people (even if they are supposed to help you).
We took a look at the current train schedule. One train was scheduled to leave at 9:20pm but was late. All other trains were going to arrive somewhere in France at about 3am. We had no choice. We rode the whole night, nonstop, to our first destination: Bordeaux, right at the Spanish border. (Luckily, on the train, a couple of Germans were willing spare a bed. Imagine Syb and me trying to sleep on a bed no wider than 80cm with no more than 10cm headroom!)
We got off the train at 7am. The stores were already open at that time so we bought a baguette and had our first breakfast in a small park. It was one of those parks where elderly Frenchmen play boule and talk politics. Eating and relaxing, we watched sunrise. It was going to be very hot and we still had our long pants on. Our backpacks seemed really heavy. Since we hadn’t planned to visit Bordeaux, we took the next train to Nice at 11am. On our way to Nice, we spontaneously got off the train in Montpellier to breathe some Southern France.