You know that feeling when you are half way to Paris on the TGV fast train in order to fly back to Australia early the next morning when you suddenly realise that your passport is snuggly tucked away in the drawer in your house in a little village in the middle of rural France?! Hmmm……
-Everything was totally under control with the preparations for closing up house smoothly completed. Hire car washed, house cleaned, linens changed, fridge emptied, heating system repaired, rubbished and recyclables bagged and placed in the street, suitcases carefully packed, fav airport hotel booked due to the early departure the next morning. Even time for a final stroll around the streets of old Angoulême and a café crême and croissant before dropping off the hire car and crossing the road to the station. We were both a little smugly self-satisfied that there was no last minute dash - as has occurred on occasions in the past.
The TGV was on time and we ensconced ourselves on board. First station - Poitiers. About one and a half hours after boarding at Angoulême, the city of Tours marked the half way mark to Paris. Less than 5 minutes before stopping at Tours, for some reason I sensed something was wrong, plus the need to check for my passport. Immediately I realised that my passport was still safely in the house in Verteuil…… oops. Don said I suddenly turned very pale, which is probably fairly accurate as I couldn’t believe how I could have neglected to think about ensuring I had my key to travelling home .... I had no idea how this was going to turn out.
The train stopped and I jumped off the train with my suitcase, but without a firm plan on how I was going to get back to Angoulême, and then Verteuil, and then back to the CDG airport in Paris by early the next morning. It was three pm and already it was flashing across my mind that there weren’t many options.
Wrestling with my heavy suitcase out of the Tours station, I looked for an Avis car rental office across the road, with a view to potentially driving back to Verteuil and then retracing my steps and then onto Paris and the airport. I entered, and was firmly told “no cars monsieur, impossible”.
Next option, quickly back to the station to check out the train schedule back to Angoulême and it was fortunate that one was arriving in about 15 minutes. Grabbed a ticket and by 3.20, not believing my luck that a TGV was heading in the right direction, was on a train back to Angoulême, a couple of hundred kilometres away but still with no concrete plan about what to do when I got back there.
Using the wifi I managed to find out that the only train back to Paris that day was at 5.36pm and I still had to work out how to get the passport in Verteuil, which is about 35 km from Angoulême.
We have friends in a neighbouring village to us and I was able to contact Maria on messenger - she agreed to drop everything, and along with Björn, drive to Verteuil to collect my passport and then drive down to Angoulême to deliver my passport to me. What a relief to have such good friends who were willing to help me get out of a pretty awful predicament!
So I arrived back in Angoulême, Maria and Björn did the passport drop, and I procured a ticket and seat on the day’s last TGV to Paris - all in about a thirty minute turnaround.
So fortunate that the train schedules were working in my favour today, and so grateful for amazing friends such as Maria and Björn.
Don has firmly said that from now on, he will be taking on passport duty. At least he’ll have the pleasure of my company on the flight tomorrow morning!
Jim lives in Brisbane, Australia, works at The University of Queensland, and enjoys visiting, reading and learning about France.