Solo en France – a rail journey into France

Part 1 Le Metro, Paris

Unlike present day circumstances, in the early 1980s, a bag left on the platform would not have constituted a national security scare or a terrorist threat. But it was still concerning enough for the police to be alerted. The ‘suspect’ would today no doubt have been taken away, grilled by the police, and more. But back then it was just a matter of a few questions of the careless person. Unfortunately, the careless person was me, and the bag was mine.

You see, when I arrived in Paris, at the famous Gare du Nord, it was eight am, Monday morning. Peak hour for the Metro. So, I decided to wait a bit until the mad rush had died down before buying a ticket to cross Paris heading for the Gare de Lyon. While waiting for the queues to abate, I caught the eye of another young man, a fellow Brit, also travelling solo, and we chatted about our relative destinations. It turned out that he was on a similar journey, also to visit relatives for Christmas, but was heading south west. Following his lead, I gained the courage to ask for “Un billet simple à Gare de Lyon, s’il vous plait.” and we both headed to the Metro platform to board the next train across the city. We didn’t have to wait long for the train, but it was three stops later that I realised something was wrong. Where was my bag? Not my huge, red, London bus-sized suitcase, but my pseudo-army, military style, looks-like-a-bomb satchel!