First the important news: we arrived safely and everyone seems to have had a good night’s sleep!
So to the journey.
After leaving Wanborough just after 6.45, we had an easy run to St Pancras, arriving in plenty to time to check in and get installed on the train, ready for its on time departure at 10.14. The ultimate destination of our train was Disneyland, so the carriages were well populated will with small children sporting Micky Mouse ears, Princess dresses etc., especially after the stops at Ebbsfleet and Ashford.
Arrival at Lille was on time and we walked to a park near the Lille Europe station for our lunch.
A short walk took us to Lille Flandres station, where we boarded the train to Poitiers, which also left on time.
Dangerous phrases such as ‘it all seems smooth so far’ were heard to fall from the lips of a certain head teacher.
At Massy TGV station, the stop for Orly Airport south of Paris, there was a long delay for some sort of technical reason (18 minutes behind schedule). Shortly after leaving the station, we stopped on the line due to (if our translation of technical railway French is right) a problem with the overhead electrical equipment on a train in front. (60 minutes delay).
By the time we arrived at Poitiers we were about 70 minutes behind. We were met by Stephane from the school, who took us around to the coach station, to find that the coach was ‘en panne’ (the dreaded phrase) – ‘broken down’. The driver had been running the aircon and flattened the battery.
A new coach was summoned and after about 20 minutes we were on the move again.
The welcome at the centre from our friends Martine and Barbara plus the staff was predictably warm, and after a short delay we were able to eat!
Most of the children seemed enjoy most of the food, amazing what hunger can do!