Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday 26 January - Laon

New Region trains at Laon
We took a morning train to Laon today riding in one of the new Picardy Regio trains.  It was quiet, smooth and comfortable.  Departure from Gare du Nord was on time and we arrived at Laon just after 1000.

The medieval city is on a hill overlooking the SNCF station and the best way to get there is on the Laon Cable Car.  This is an automatic system with two, sometimes three, small cars that run every five minutes and take 3 1/2 minutes to climb the hill.
This is one of the original rack electric cars which was replaced by the cablecars

This video shows most of the climb up to the top, including misty views of the medieval city
This video shows a car arriving at the top station

It was misty and cold at the top and we first found a bar and had coffee.  I asked for croissants but they were out but the barman suggested I go over the street to the boulangerie and get some to eat with our coffee.  This worked out very well.

Laon has an extensive medieval section which is dominated by the cathedral which is stupendous both inside and out.  The architecture is stunning but what took our breath away was the sheer interior size which was very well maintained..  

Now used as law courts

The teachers were on strike today and were marching through the town - they had quite a climb up to the medieval city.We walked around the area of the cathedral then came back to the bar where we had coffee for lunch. This was a good choice as it was well filled with local people.

Kidney with potatoes - in a wonderful sauce
Sauteed pork with ginger, ratatouille and couscous
The apple tart was outstanding as was the red Chinon.

During lunch we noticed several sunny intervals and the weather improved a little.  We spent more time in the medieval sector then took the cable car back to the station.
View of the cathedral
The abbey church that is now an enormous parish church

This video shows the entire trip down the hill including a view of the extensive rail yards around the SNCF station.  There is a mid station, Vaux, where the cable is changed automatically

Our ride back to Paris was in a slightly older diesel which got us back on time.  
At Crepy-en-Valois, the end of the electrified section from Gare du Nord, I saw two commuter trains with the older electric locomotives, 17084 and 17087 at the country end.

We had planned to take Metro line 4 to Barbes Rochechouart then line 2 to Villiers.  We managed to get on the train at the Gare du Nord but there was a delay as a result of a suspicious package at Barbes Rochechouart. After some ten minutes of inactivity we moved to line 5 where there was a great crowd trying to get into a train.  We were in the middle of the crowd and were swept into the train!  We transferred to line 3 at Republique and got back to Villiers a little before 1900.   The baguette from Diva et Chocolats had only just come out of the oven.  The smell was great and the butter melted almost as soon as it had been spread.

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