Home » Travelling to Spain with our dog: part 5 (Paris to Barcelona)

I dimly remember that in Dieppe to Paris, the previous post of this England to Spain travelogue, we’d arrived in Paris’ Gare du Nord rail station. We’d rode in from Dieppe port, via the cathedral city of Rouen, on a super swish, very fast, TGV train.

Lost suitcase

Everything seemed exciting to me – the transfer to the Gare de Lyon rail station via Paris’ enormous Metro system. Even the short walk to the Holiday Inn Express through the Paris darkness, just a half mile from the station was kind of thrilling. It was made even more exhilarating because my significant other (no… not the dog!) had left her suitcase on the concourse in Gare de Lyon. By mistake. Take your eye off the ball and that’s what can happen after a long train journey.

Suddenly on the busy zebra crossing, through a sea of taxis, my wife channelled Edward Munch’s “The Scream”, did a volte-face (see what I did there?) like a locomotive, back into the station. To our relief the French people hadn’t let us down. Don’t believe what you may have read elsewhere. The missing suitcase hadn’t been stolen or detonated by one of the gendarmerie’s bomb disposal robots.

Holiday Inn, Gare de Lyon

We arrived for our overnight stay in Paris’ Holiday Inn – Gare de Lyon Bastille. It’s a very nice ornate hotel close to the station which we can definitely recommend. Our standard room was very smart and definitely big enough for 3 of us… okay 2 and a bit. We took the continental breakfast which was a bit light on substance but low priced! We each got a croissant, un café and a small pot of jam for €7.50. Well… cheap for Paris!

Cool

The next morning after a visit to a very down-at-heel patch of grass and weeds that passed as his bathroom, our poor little mutt was ready to venture back to the Gare de Lyon and the train to Barcelona Sants. It was very busy in the station. After all Barcelona is the cool destination. Even though it was only 12˚C in the station I was pleased to see it was only 7˚C back home. “Ah schadenfreude my old friend, it’s so good to see you again.”

 

Ticket to ride

We needed to visit the French booking office to get Piper a ticket to Barcelona. While you can get your own tickets from www.internationalrail.com you can’t get one for your mutt(s). You have to buy them at the departing station. Different railway providers have their own rules about the carriage of pets. They need to know if you have a teacup Chihuahua (we haven’t!) or a Rottweiler. The authorities need you to have your dog in a cage or pen to get them on the train.

We were too tired to get the pet’s ticket and decided we’d do it the next day prior to our travelling to Almeria. It worked out okay but it was a bit worrying. There were a lot of people waiting for service in the large open plan booking office in the morning about 8:30AM. But there weren’t a lot of staff. You have to take a ticket from the usual type of ticket machine and wait for your number to appear on a clerk’s screen. Everyone else’s number appeared to come up except ours. You know that feeling. Eventually a pleasant lady saw us and we bought the ticket for Piper, about €17 I think, half the adult fare anyway. As it happened we still had time in hand so I needn’t have worried. We made our way to the platform area.

Paris to Barce at 295 km/h

Snaking through the snow

After a lot of people watching we got the call to board. Our train looked like an immensely long shiny boa constrictor. We tracked our coach down and went through a bit of a struggle to cajole our luggage into place. We settled into comfortable seats to enjoy the 10 hour ride South. The colour display screen proudly announced we were cruising at speeds of around 295 kmph (183 mph).

Cute

Piper, our chihuahua, took all this in his small stride. He slept for quite long periods and then would appear pressing his face through the mesh window of his carrier. He looked like a latter day (small) Great Train Robber. Overcome by his cuteness we would unzip the window and plant him on a knee. He took in the countryside zooming past the windows at whirlwind speed. Thankfully he didn’t have an attack of projectile vomiting on any of his journeys!

Palm trees

In mid France we saw lots of snow from our warm, comfy seats – well it was mid December. But in the South of France, la neige thawed away. Sunny palm trees began to appear in gardens around Narbonne and Perpignan. The dog nibbled on small kibble biscuits and small sips of water from a standard water bottle, on occasional sorties from the pet carrier.

Thank goodness for his early “training”…

Next time… Barcelona to Almeria!