Category Archives: France

Marseille thwarted

The ‘fare finder’ section of the Ryanair website offered an unexpected gem. A return flight from Shannon to Marseille on the first weekend in May for a mere seventy euros . This was unusual. Flights from Shannon are more limited in terms of destination than Dublin and they tend to be more expensive. So this was a treat. I had never been to France’s oldest and most notorious city. The reputation it has for being a dangerous city did not alarm me – Naples has a similar reputation and that was one of my favourite recent trips. Plus I have been to the United States twice over the past year. Marseille might be a bit rough and ready but mass shootings are not a a daily occurrence like in the US. So long as I kept my wits about me there should be no problems encountered. The alternative was to stay in Ireland where a one night stay in Cork city cost the same as return flights and four nights’ accommodation in Marseille.

My research told me that the Old Port was a must see. Marseille was founded as a port city by the Greeks 2600 years ago. A tourist train would take me to the Notre Dame de Nord cathedral overlooking the city. Le Panier looked like an eclectic street. The papal town of Avignon was a short train journey away – the palace where seven popes was based for a period of seventy years in the fourteenth century was one of the world’s finest. I had always wanted to visit it.

The bus journey to Shannon Airport was frustrating as it is poorly served by public transport. I probably have unrealistic expectations considering how small the airport is. My flight was at 19.20. I booked a bus ticket for 16.25 which was meant to get me there by 5pm. The bus arrived into Colbert Station from Cork thirty five minutes late. The rain that fell during my wait can only be described as vengeful. I reached the airport at 17.35 – my journey enlivened by the young woman with streaky tan complaining on the phone to the friend she was visiting in Birmingham about how her flight was delayed by two hours and how she would only arrive at 10.30pm. I gave a smug inner chuckle. My flight was on schedule and I would arrive at 22.45 and reach my AirBNB by 23.30.

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Murphy in Paris – September 2022

There was an air traffic controllers’ strike in France on the Friday I travelled. My airline informed me that unless I had received an email telling me that my flight was cancelled, then it was proceeding as scheduled. This was a relief. This was my first trip to Paris in approximately a decade, and it would also be my first foreign trip from my new local airport – Shannon, in County Clare. Paris is a city that I have visited several times over the years, but never really as a tourist. My trips tended to be overnight trips on the high-speed train from Amsterdam for nights out. This time I was going to explore it properly. My co-conspirator for this journey was my friend from England (via Limerick) who’d be arriving on the Eurostar from London.

Arc de Triomphe

The flight was at 19.25. My bus to Shannon Airport was meant to be at 17.24 from Limerick Station, with arrival at the airport at 17.53. The bus arrived in Limerick Station at a leisurely 17.45 and reached airport at 18.15. At security check-in I was told the Vueling boarding pass on my phone wasn’t valid. Back to check in desk I trotted, got new pass and back through security. I went to the lav, bought a Coke, and strolled to the departure gate. Gadzooks. Where was my bag? It certainly wasn’t with me. The clock now read 18.55. Back to the toilet I went – no bag there. Back to security. No bag. The kindly airport policeman checked cameras. ‘You brought it through security’ he informed me. That was all very well I thought to myself, but where was it now. I had my insulin packed in that bag.

The announcement over the intercom ominously declared ‘Flight to Paris closing’.

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Pandemic travels – March in Annecy and Lyon, France

A springtime trip to France sounded like a good idea. Especially as it had been almost fifteen years since I had visited that beautiful country. We decided to avoid Paris. France is a vast country (by European standards) and has appealing destinations other than its glorious capital. A quick scan of the Ryanair and Aer Lingus destinations from Dublin produced a clear winner- the city of Lyon. When I mentioned this to my sister she recommended a daytrip to Annecy. After a quick online search of that town we decided that a trip to both cities was required. And so our tickets were booked.

Lake Annecy in Les Alpes

For my reading entertainment on the lunchtime flight to Lyon, I was reading ‘Not the girl next door’ a biography of Hollywood legend Joan Crawford. Joan seemed like a suitable guardian angel for air travel. In case of turbulence I could picture her snarling ‘Don’t f*ck with me weather, this ain’t my first time at the rodeo’ (to paraphrase Faye Dunaway in ‘Mommie Dearest’.)
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Cath├ędrale de Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Lyon

Weekend

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I watched ‘Jackie Brown’ on Friday. This movie had been mentioned in some report about serial predator Harvey Weinstein that I’d read a day earlier. I’d seen that film many times. I’d loved that film. I detest violence or harassment against women.

But I decided I needed to do some research. Did Whalestein influence ‘Jackie Brown’? Continue reading Weekend