My trip to Paris

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

My trip to Paris
April 5 – 14 1941

April 8

Today we got up at 7.30 and had breakfast at quarter to eight. At quarter past we went by taxi to the station, the Gare de Lyons. Millions of people there. All the world’s hikers and scouts were there, slung about with knapsacks and frying pans. They seemed an awfully nice lot.

The train came in at 9.18 and we climbed up into it. It was a weird train with very hard wooden seats. In our part we sang, and every time we went into a tunnel Ginger sang “Where’s that Tiger!”.

We got to Fontainebleau about 10.30 and went by tram to the chateau. In the tram there were seats for two facing each other and single seats on the other side. Gwen and I sat on the arm of a double seat as the tram was full, and in the single seat opposite there was an old woman whom Gwen christened “The Blunderbuss”. Every time the tram shook, Gwen’s feet kicked the bottom of her seat and she let fly at us in French. Gosh did we laugh. I was nearly ill.

The chateau is a marvellous place. Everything is so well kept. The floors and ceiling are gorgeous. In one room there was a hat of Napoleon’s and a lock of his hair in a locket thing. The view out over the gardens is divine. A guide explained everything in French but we could understand most of it.

We left the chateau and went to a café from which we could still see it. We ate the lunch the hotel had packed for us, and drank citronade. There were lovely bread rolls with meat in them, hard boiled eggs, and bananas.

There was a big square in front of us – we were sitting in the open of course.

I was a military prison, and there were faces peering out – no doubt they had bodies under them but they didn’t show. Then down Road B came a part of the French cavalry – or I suppose so. Each soldier was riding one horse and leading another. They exchanged remarks with the prisoners as they passed, and went into Road E.

After lunch half the party with Cooky went for a walk in the forest, and we went up Road B and wandered round a bit and then got a bus and drove into the forest. We drove through avenues of trees down long straight roads and turned left down the Bouquet de Roi.

After twisting and turning a lot we came to the finest tree in the forest, which is called Jupiter. It certainly is a glorious tree. We stopped here for a while and picked wood anemones. The whole place was starred with them. We were taking photos when an old woman came by and gave us some blue flowers. I’ve got them pressed still.

Then we got back into the bus and went to Franchard. The driver was M. [Daulóy?] and he came with us. The first thing we did was buy souvenirs of course. Then we walked over rocks and boulders – picking up fir cones on the way – and came to a weird shaped rock which is called the Druids Sphinx. After climbing all over it and taking more snaps, we went on further and came to a gorge. The sides of it were covered with huge slabs of stone as though a few giants had been playing there. The view was absolutely divine.

Then we went to the right again and picked our way through rocks. There is one stone shaped like a helmet, and further on one like a hat of Napoleon’s and another like a skull. There was one little pool amongst the rocks which was sweet. We climbed over rocks by the hundred and got back to the bus.

We drove to the valley of the Sol, and got out there for a while. The view there too was heavenly. We all decided that this was the ideal honeymoon place. We stopped again further on and looked at the town from sight above it. Then we drove back to the town and went to our café again. This time we had grenadine.

About 5.30 we started back, buying more souvenirs en route. We caught a tram to the station and stood on the platform and waved to people. I shall never forget Faith coming out and saying “I think I’ll wave too”. O heavens! On the station there was a nice soldier and a man with red shoes. Olive fell down.

In the train there was one man, and we were trying to swear in French when he suddenly said, “Are you having a nice time?” He was an interpreter! We went from the Gare de Lyon to hotel by taxi. We spoke to TDH and Specs in the hotel. Specs is a Quaker and knows Cornwall, and both are v. nice.

Dinner was at 8.0, and after that we went down the street and had ices at a café which was all glassed in. A cross-eyed artist came and asked us if we wanted our portraits drawn, (in French of course) and Gwen asked him for a strawberry ice! Then he went on talking and I was giggling at Gwen when I suddenly realised that he was talking to me – his eyes were looking somewhere else!

We left there about 10.30. What a day!

Read Part Seven.

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