In Part 4 we’d arrived in the port of Dieppe on the DFDS / Transmanche ferry to get the train to Paris on our journey to Spain.
Walking to le Gare
The walk from the terminal into town is pretty mundane until you hit the harbour path. A picturesque vista of shops, hotels and houses clusters above boats tossing gently on the swell, appears before you.
A couple of bridges allow the pretty yachts, fishing boats and assorted pleasure craft to leave the harbour. Cars from the ferries run in and out of town over these transport arteries. Foot passengers can walk across them to the railway station too. Pretty useful bridges eh?
We took up the option to walk because we like walking, and had been holed up onboard for four hours. It only took us about 25 minutes to walk pulling our suitcases, with Piper trotting along beside us.
Sadly not much time for sightseeing. We needed to buy a dog ticket for a ride to Paris. Although we’d bought our own rail tickets from International Rail before travelling from the UK they can’t sell you dog tickets. Those tickets must be bought at the departure station. I guess they’d need to know if you’re bringing a Rottweiler on board…
The Gare de Dieppe is a generously sized one storey old building, from the last century. It’s split into two parts comprising a rail and coach transport hub. However the day we arrived was Sunday, and the rail and coach traffic was sparse.
While we spent a couple of hours waiting for our train, I spent some of the time walking Piper. I saw a plaque in the station square. It commemorated a French Resistance fighter executed on the street in front of the station by the Nazis in the 2nd World War. That kind of discovery has a habit of momentarily transporting you back in time.
After buying our dog a ticket and having visited the small station shop for coffee and chocolate a couple of times, we ‘composted’ our tickets in the yellow machine in front of the platform before getting on the train. Believe it or not, composting is the French word used when you shove your ticket in a machine and it stamps it. We learned later, in France you’ve got a 2 day window in which to use your rail ticket after you have bought it. When you insert it into the yellow machine your ticket’s stamped to say it’s going to be used to travel today.
Dieppe to Paris (via Rouen)
It was dark by now and we walked expectantly out to the train in drizzle. The train didn’t open for another 5 minutes so we were nicely damp by the time we got inside. To travel to Paris via Dieppe you can change trains at Rouen. The trains from Dieppe to Rouen are sleek, modern, quiet, and comfortable. In fact you can use any pleasant adjective (which incidentally won’t apply to trains in the UK). It will describe these local SNCF trains. Typically Piper nestled quietly in his carrier on a seat and dreamed the journey away.
Arriving in Rouen we only had to swap to the adjacent platform. 5 minutes later the Rouen to Paris train pulled in. We got on board to stand up all the way on a 2 hour chic express train ride. We come from the North of England, where we have to use the worn out rolling stock cast off by the South-East UK train companies. Wwe simply aren’t used to a plush, swish lower and upper decks on trains. It was very exciting, even though there were no available seats and we had to stand up all the way!
Eventually the train slowed down and rolled into bustling Paris St. Lazare station.
Next time… Paris to Barcelona.