After prowling around the famous Riviera and spending an idyllic several days in Provence with Americans Frank and Mandy Frost, a crude Americaine would say, “Le merde mettait le ventilateur!”

It started as soon as Mandy dropped us off in Avignon. We’d had a wonderful, restful (luckily) time with her and Frank, in their charmant seasonal digs in the little Provence town of Murs. But she had no sooner driven off than we found that the train from Avignon to our target city of St. Malo, on the Normandy coast, was “fully booked,” a term you really come to hate.

Heavy sigh (another thing you do a lot of) . . . what to do . . .

We decided to head way over to Paris to turn around, booked seats and were soon on our way. But when we arrived in the huge Gare du Nord station — later in the afternoon than planned owing to an auto crash on the tracks somewhere up ahead —  we found that trains to the coast were “fully booked.” The booking clerk du Nord, luckily for us, was a happy, helpful young man who suggested we zoom over to the Gare Montparnasse, where we could get a train to somewhere near the coast.

Being late, we had to hurry. We’d spent a lot of time in Paree and knew the Metro system, so we got to Montparnasse probably about as fast as humanly possible. Panting, we rushed to a ticket window and were relieved to get tix to Bordeaux. We decided to head for Spain instead of St. Malo. We’d go back “up” there later.

There were no assigned seats this time, the train being a rusty old commuter model headed generally for the coast. We flopped into a seat and across the table a nice-looking young guy looked at us like “Aw merde, pourquois moi?” We probably looked like a pair of escapees from a mental hospital. I couldn’t get my hand loose from the tangle of two bag straps and a cane, and began to curse as I thought I was breaking my fingers. Sharon helped untangle me while I yelled at her to check the tix and see if we were in the right car. She confirmed that it didn’t matter, and order was finally restored.

In Bordeaux we stumbled into a good hotel deal we’d found elsewhere, the Ibis chain, which offers reasonable prices in exchange for staying out in the ‘burbs. And this one was only a few blocks from the train station. You turn right on Rue Wino, left on Place Derelict and you’re home.

Bordeaux ain’t much, including the countryside. Ya seen one vineyard ya seen ‘em all. BUT there are a couple of good museums there, and almost worth a trip in itself was possibly the best croissant/pastry shop we’ve found. Ever. I’ve lost the name, but it’s only two blocks to the right, out of the train station. LOVED that place.

On to Barcelona. . .