Two train anecdotes

That time the train took off in the opposite direction without telling anyone

I had the idea that when Adam arrived early in the afternoon, he could take the train straight to Lyon instead of Oyonnax and we could spend the afternoon sightseeing, as of course I was going to bring him there anyway! So there I was, waiting at the Lyon Perrache train station, seeing that his train would arrive any minute, when he called me and said that he thought his train was leaving Lyon. (There are 2 train stations, TGV passes through Part Dieu to get to Perrache where the tourist sites are).

“Um, what? Are you sure? What do you see?”

“Trees, Nathalie. I’m not in the city anymore.”

So I was super confused in the train station, since apparently his train had arrived….without him on it. After some confusion we figured out that the train he had taken from Paris had split, with one half going to Lyon Perrache and the other half to Saint-Etienne, a town 45 minutes south of Lyon! Without any stops! This had not been advertised and apparently Adam was not the only one on the train who had missed the  memo, so…that delayed our reunion 90 minutes and eliminated our chance to see Lyon that day. Oh, well. That’s SNCF for ya! Fortunately, we made it to Lyon later in the week, of course.

That time we missed the last train of the night and had to rely on friendship

A few days later, once we managed to actually see Lyon, I ran into a problem I’ve been waiting to encounter since I arrived in France. See, Oyonnax is not so well placed. Its only an hour from Lyon by car, but by train its 2-3 hours with transfers. This is because I must go through Bourg-en-Bresse to get into and out of Oyonnax, and there are very few buses/trains from Bourg. Therefore, the last train leaving Lyon that would get me back to Oyonnax on a weeknight is at 7:20 PM. (If that sounds early, I’ll just let you know its 6:20 PM on the weekends. How’s that for the nightlife??)

Now, I thought we had time to make it to the train station….only we went to the wrong one. Remember how I mentioned there are 2 train stations in Lyon? Well, I was under the impression that all trains start at Perrache, pass through Part Dieu, and then go onwards to the destination, as that’s been my experience this whole TAPIF year. Well….that isn’t exactly true, as I found out the hard way when we arrived at Perrache, glanced up to see which track our train was on….and gasped in horror when nothing showed up and we realized the train was leaving from Part Dieu!

We full-on sprinted through Perrache, dove onto the metro, and raced across Lyon only to miss the last train of the night by 8 minutes. Honestly, I‘d been waiting for this to happen, since its so ridiculously early, so I had a quasi-plan in mind. There were other trains out of Lyon that night, just not any that would let us catch our connection to Oyonnax from Bourg-en-Bresse. Fortunately, I have another assistant friend who lives in Bourg (thanks, Kaitlin!) who I called up all panicky and who, out of the genuine goodness of her heart let me and Adam- a total stranger- crash in her apartment for the night. When I asked her if there was any chance in hell I could cash in my “Hey, if you ever miss the last train out of Lyon just let me know” card with an additional person, she very graciously said of course, with the addition of “…but I have to be at work at 8, so…”

Little did Kaitlin know that I ALSO had to be at work, teaching, in Oyonnax at 8 AM, so that’s how Adam and I found ourselves on the 6 AM bus out of Bourg the next morning, enduring a bumpy ride in a tiny bus through the Jura Mountains, giving me juuuuust enough time to change clothes before appearing in front of a class of high school sophomores (make that 3 classes in a row). It was a rough Thursday.

Moral of the story? Check which train station your route leaves from- double check-triple check! Especially if its the last one of the night!

Honestly, I don’t know how to help you if your train suddenly takes an unannounced 90-minute detour. You’re on your own with that one.

Has anyone else had train stories? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 


5 thoughts on “Two train anecdotes

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