Day 4: Lyon (cont’d)

 We wandered around Vieux Lyon, until the imposing facade of St. Jean’s Cathedral came into view.

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Located nearby on ancient Roman grounds was the iconic Basilica de Fourviere, which we unfortunately did not have time to visit.

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The interior of St. Jean’s was certainly less austere than Strasbourg Cathedral. The celestial-sounding choir boy recording reminiscent of Les Choristes didn’t hurt, either.

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Following a lunch of fresh salads (at this point, we were dying for greens!), we found ourselves once again at the TGV station, on our way to Avignon.

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Avignon is a walled city in Provence historically known for being a papal stronghold. We arrived at the Avignon TGV to lush greenery and general “Southern charm”. The city itself was aged but dignified.

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Nicole was ecstatic when we stumbled upon a restaurant named Fou de Fafa on Tripadvisor, which, sadly, did not take walk-ins. She then fell violently ill for the rest of the night, and we were graced with a midnight visit by a local doctor.

Day 5: Avignon, Aix-en-Provence

The next morning, things were looking rather grim, as Nicole was still feeling off-colour, and we had a TGV to nearby Aix-en-Provence to catch at noon. While my companion caught up on sleep, I hightailed it to Avignon Centre to catch a glimpse of the Palais des Papes.

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As we were boarding the train, the doors decided to close immediately after Nicole, leaving me on the platform with her backpack. Despite our desperate pounding on the doors, the train took off for Aix-en-Provence (or so we thought). We were separated in France with no cell phones; a full-blown traveler’s nightmare.

Following my hysteric pleading with the station personnel, they issued me another ticket free of charge (which would come to be the last nice gesture from French officials). I boarded the next train to Aix-en-Provence, and upon arrival, proceeded to page Nicole furiously, to no avail. After the third request, the security officers stared at me quizzically, “Cette personne, elle n’existe pas!”

At this point, I was exhausted and utterly terrified. Due to some mishap, I had Nicole’s train ticket to Paris, which left in about 3 hours. We managed to get a hold of each other shortly afterwards: her train took her straight to Marseille, and she had doubled back to Avignon to find me. It was a tight schedule for her to catch the next train to Aix in time for our connection to Paris, and missing it would be disastrous. So I sat in the lobby of the Aix-en-Provence station, surrounded by luggage, nibbled on vending machine snacks…and waited.

(To be continued)

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