Le Petit Train is a French phenomenon that we are particularly fond of. It's a small train - actually a car dressed up as a train - that pulls small open carriages through the streets of many towns in France to take tourists on sight seeing tours of the main "attractions". We love it.
On a beautiful day in late September last year we decided to do the tourist thing and visit a town we had not been to for several years, Saumur. There we noticed that the petit train was still running until the end of the month so we decided to take a ride. As always it was magical.
It crossed the bridge over the Loire and took us for a trip on the other side from the town.
From the train we had a magnificent view of the château.
Back across the bridge we went, through some of the little streets lined with cafés still busy for the time of year thanks to the good weather. Then the train chugged its way up the hill and stopped right outside the château for people to get off and have a good look round if they wanted. They would then be picked up by the train on its next tour to be taken back to town. All very civilised.
We have ridden on Le Petit Train all over France. It's a great way to see the main tourist spots of any town and learn a lot about it from the running commentary that comes over the speaker system, usually in French followed by English. In some towns the trains squeeze through impossibly narrow streets, passing close enough to tables outside the little cafés and restaurants to read the menu and choose somewhere for lunch. It was on Le Petit Train in Tours that we discovered Rue Colbert, a street with dozens of restaurants and many different cuisines.
Having completed our train tour of the town, we meandered back to the car, enjoying some of the lovely architecture. Saumur is a beautiful town and deserves a blog post or two of its own. Suffice it to say that we have been there several times over the years, doing the tourist thing, taking in a nice lunch and there is still much to explore. On this day we were blessed with not only gorgeous weather but also no crowds. It was late enough in the season for most tourists to have gone home but still early enough for everything to still be open.
Back home it was still light and warm enough to sit outside for an apéro before dinner.
Once autumn comes when the prospect of packing up the house for winter is imminent, we are loathe to give up our outdoor time. During the summer we tend to take it for granted, knowing that if we eat indoors today there is always tomorrow when we can sit out for dinner. When the shadows become longer in the early evenings we make the most of every opportunity to enjoy our outdoor space. There will not be much of that to be had once we are back in Derbyshire for the winter.
The more eagle eyed of you might notice that although there are only two of us, there are usually three chairs at the table. This is because one of them is invariably occupied from the moment it hits the ground!
So, with our country sinking into even deeper and more ludicrous chaos over Brexit, we are now focussed on the coming week when we will be carefully gathering together and packing the things we will be taking back to France very soon. It can't come soon enough.