“Amtrak Connection” Doesn’t Translate Into French.

My stay in Azay-le-Rideau is over and I must say it was more relaxed than I had anticipated, mostly because we had several days of rain. I did make three separate visits to the lovely chateau, however. Something about it kept me going back.

My first task this morning was to get me and my little rented Peugeot some 25 kilometers back to the main railway station in the center of Tours … an already daunting task made more so because of a thick ground fog this morning. French road signs are small and illogically posted anyway, but the gray gloom made it even more difficult to spot those pointing to Tours and then to Centre Ville, and finally to Gare SNCF. I made it, however, with both me and the little Avis car dent and scratch free.

While I was on the train today, traveling from Tours back to Paris — this is a photo of the train arriving at the Tours station — I realized it was my final rail journey in France on this trip and I was again struck by the extensive rail system the French have. The train I was on today was what they refer to as an “inter-city” train. In other words, it was not one of their TGVs — train à grande vitesse — which literally translates as high-speed train.
But make no mistake, the train today was fast — routinely traveling at somewhere between 200 and 220 kilometers an hour according to the very attractive lady conductor. That’s 124 to 136 mph, but she obviously thought it was no big deal … just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill train … specifically, it was train number 14058, which is about as nondescript as you can get.

Me? I couldn’t help thinking, as we roared through a little town on one of six tracks, that in two days I would be taking Amtrak from New York to Salt Lake City and I’m already worrying that I might not make my connection from the Lake Shore Limited to the California Zephyr in Chicago … a connection which, according to the official Amtrak time table, is four hour and fifteen minutes! 

Imagine the reaction if I had shared that concern with the attractive SNCF conductor.