Tag Archives: journey

Journey into the Cantal, Auvergne mountains

From Clermont-Ferrand to Murat takes about 90 minutes by train, and cost me £17 one way. Then it was a transfer by car to Bruno and Valerie’s Auberge d’Aijean, our inn for the night. Just past Murat, you can see the snowline appearing for the first time.

The winter here has been mild. It is still scenic in a wintry way but I can imagine how this notches up quite a few extra beauty points when covered in snow. Still, Valerie guided me on a nature hike this afternoon, which was pretty and helped me acclimatise from my sedentary job to actually walking. Tomorrow morning we get to snowshoe on the Puy Mary volcano peak.

So, the press trip is about to start – the two other journalists are arriving in half an hour and we will begin with a Nordic bath, which I believe is a a sort of alfresco hot tub, before chef Bruno’s dinner.

Apologies for awkward wordflows. I’ve been speaking in broken French for two days and my writing is stuck in transit.


The journey’s the thing

The Ffestiniog kid
As Robert Louis Stevenson said in 1881:

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive..”

The journey can be its own reward – unless you’ve ever endured an overnight bus journey in Asia – and I admit, I was very much looking forward to today’s 11-hour multi-rail trip. Here was the route:

Bournville-Birmingham New Street-London Euston-St Pancras International-Paris Gard du Nord-Paris Bercy-Clermont-Ferrand.

I didn’t go by rail for any amazing views, though there were some to be had, but I badly needed the chance to watch the world go by for a few hours and just catch up on ‘stuff’. There is also something of the romance of travel in the variety of rail stations you pass through – something you don’t get with modern airports.

The other thing that fascinates about ground travel is that everything is looked at afresh, eagerly and vividly – from the continuous line of graffiti on the approach to Paris to patterns in the paving stones in historic Clermont. I didn’t manage to snap the unexpected tropical garden, complete with palm trees, beside the No 14 line from Gare de Lyon (update: got it on the return journey) but I snapped all else that caught my eye today.

Below is the story of the journey in pictures and there are more in the full set of lo-fi phone pics is on Flickr. Continue reading

Every journey starts with an airport transfer

Evert journey starts with a small step and (often) an airport transfer…

It’s 4am on the coach from Birmingham to Manchester Airport, which puts me in mind of The 4am Project – so I take a phone snapshot aboard the National Express 422 service. It’s a blurry fail (those lights are the view out the front window) but also kinda pretty. The world at 4am is a whole different kettle of surreal fish – and that’s the point really.

4am Project

Blue neon tunnel on the travelator to Terminal 3. More crazy lights but I like it. It’s a 12 mins walk to checkin, though.

Travelator to Terminal 3

Arcade games at the gate? We’re not in Birmingham now, Toto. Still, the seats are great for kipping on.

Arcade machines, Gate 52

FYI, Gate 52 at Terminal 3, Manchester Airport is also a Defibrillator Station. With my fear of flying (see yesterday’s confessional post), I felt strangely reassured.

Defibrillator, Gate 52

Checking the plane over through the window – it looks shiny and new. Ok then, I’ll board.

BMIbaby Boeing 737-300

One of the swifter boardings, thankfully. It was funny when a crew member changed into her comfortable shoes aboard the flight. Glamour – check.

Gate 52, Manchester Airport

Bmibaby cabin crew action shot!

BMIbaby flight attendant

That’s France down there. (I’m much happier now I’m in the cruise corridor.)


Kiss the pilot, we’ve landed. Toulouse Airport is packed with urban, futuristic chic.

Toulouse airport

The transfer down to the coast is a swift autoroute ride with a viewing point for Carcassonne Castle.

Carcasonne castle

Next step: the holiday.

Bmibaby.com flights to Toulouse from Manchester in October cost between £41 and £63 return, taxes and charges included.