My trip to Paris

Read Part Two.
Read the whole thing on The Diaries page.

My trip to Paris
April 5 – 14 1941

April 6

I woke up about 3am, and sat up to find that everyone else in the salon was doing likewise. I also found that Ursula had all the blanket and that I was very uncomfortable. We changed places and I found my head at the feet of some strange female who grinned amiably. Again the salon settled down to sleep.

We slept until about 5 o’clock, and then we all got out at quarter past. It was somewhat cramped dressing, and washing, but Ursula and I got up on deck by twenty to six and saw the sunrise (for the first time in my life!).

We wandered around the ship and duly discovered a boys’ school on board. At 6.0 we could see the French coast and boy were we thrilled all over again. Half an hour later we were in the harbour at Le Havre. France at last!

A little rowing boat with 3 men in it took I suppose our mooring cables to the quay, and then a crane lifted them out of the way. They did look a scream swinging in the air, all talking like mad. Ginger and I thought we would be the first off and dashed up to a ladder lugging our cases, but we had to lug them down again as it was the bridge.

We gave in our disembarkation papers or something and duly got off the ship. French soil at last! There were gendarmes in capes there. Oh what a thrill! (Like hell.) We passed through the customs office to the street which was cobbled, and waited for a bus. There was a pump on the corner opposite, and an old man shuffling up a side street. Several men in [trams?] went by.

We waited hours for a bus, and finally got into two. It turned out after that in the one bus Ursula sat on an old man’s lap, and Olive on Grecian Nose’s! We waved to our boys’ school who were walking, and got to the station to find that we had missed the train.

We scoured round and found a little café opposite the station and there we had coffee and rolls. It was lovely sitting there in the sun – it was only about 8.0 in the morning. I think the manager had never done such trade before, because we had a variety of china, cups with no handles, not enough saucers etc. But it was heavenly coffee.

When we had finished we wandered down the street and bought stamps and postcards – which we did the whole time we were in France. Then we went back to the station – which was a grand one – and waited for the 9.18 train.

The platforms in France are very low and you have to climb up into the trains. The seats were leather with a little rack to put coats and things in, as well as the luggage rack. Then we started on the next stage of our journey.

The country, so Miss Macleod said, is agricultural and dairy farming. It is very flat with long straight lines of trees. There seemed to be hundreds of churches all with different sorts of spires. I tried to draw some of them. It was scorching hot and I dozed two or three times.

The boys school got off at Rouen. We saw the cathedral from the train. I tried to draw that too. After Rouen we stood in the corridor for a time, and looked at the bridges over the Seine, and the barges and things.


Read Part Four.

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