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Open Features: Nancy, France - Part Three

Linda McLean and Shand enjoy a holiday in France, but all too soon it’s time for the journey home...

This story will be concluded next Monday.

Paris was expensive, and there was no wheelchair transport. Shand had booked a room with no air conditioning, and we realised that this was a mistake after one night. Keep the windows shut, and you suffocate with heat – open them and you suffocate with fumes from the traffic.

We were quite happy to leave after a couple of days, and take the SNCF to Nancy. Again, the First Class treatment was wonderful, and the journey passed quickly. We disembarked at Nancy station, and I tried my French out again.

“How far to this hotel?”

This time the looks were more than astonished, as I was informed that it was in excess of seven miles. I was not amused, and asked Shand what he had been thinking about. He was equally confused, and told me that he had understood that the hotel was in the middle of the town. There was one of a similar name in the town centre, but confusion between languages meant that we were booked into the one several miles away. We decided to walk again.

“Mais, Non!” said the station guard. “Nous avons GIHP!”(Pronounced JEEP).

I had never heard of this, and asked for an explanation. It turned out to be disabled transport.

“We cannot wait until next week,” I said abruptly, with my jaundiced experience of disabled transport in Scotland
However, I was assured it would only be quarter of an hour, and although I was sceptical, the man was right. For £5 we bought a book of tickets that would cover us for ten journeys. It was amazing. What towns had this system, we wanted to know? Just Nancy, Metz and Strasbourg, was the answer
How much notice did we have to give, and how late at night did they run? I asked.

I was regarded with incredulity, and informed that we were paying, we returned when we wanted to, if it was the middle of the night that was fine. Twelve hours notice was usually enough. We used it every day.

It was absolute bliss. This transport made our holiday. There were very few English-speaking people there, and so they made a real fuss of us. They suggested interesting places that we might like to see, they told us about their famous park, (Parc de la Pepiniere, if I remember correctly) which was not just a park as we think of it, but more a community centre, zoo, and public gardens with gaming facilities. Beautiful floral clock displays, fountains, and quiet rose gardens lit at night – something for families and those wanting peace. It was very cleverly constructed and very popular.

My real bit of excitement here was when the police woke me from sunbathing, and angrily demanded that I remove myself. I did not understand at first, because other people were sunbathing in the park. They explained that you could only sunbathe in certain areas.

Every night there was son et lumiere in Stanislas Square, and it was lovely to be able to stay out and enjoy this, where at home we would have been bundled away before it started because transport was so restricted. The shops were good, there were excellent markets, the days were warm, and the accommodation was one of the highest standard of design I have ever come across. It was one of the Novotel group, and very cleverly done. On first sight, I thought the room would be far too small, but it worked well. The toilet was planned with great precision. It was really cheap – something like £5 per night including breakfast - much cheaper than a bed and breakfast at home.

All too soon we had to make the homeward trip - and it proved to be epic.

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