19th – 20th September 2014: stuck in France   Leave a comment

I’ve done many foreign trips and most have gone very smoothly, however the start of this trip to Madagascar and the Comoros has been far from smooth.

First I found I couldn’t take a flight from Heathrow to arrive in time for the Air France flight to Madagascar on the same day – but that was OK because I arranged to stay overnight with my friends John and Florence who live north of Paris, secondly the internal flights in Madagascar and Comoros were drastically changed meaning we will have less time in some very important sections of the tour and have to spend the first day around the capital doing nothing of great importance – but in the end that was for the best, thirdly a strike by Air France pilots meant that two days before I was to leave I learned that I would have to fly with BA to Orly, Paris instead of Charles de Gaulle – but that was ok because John agreed to pick me up from Orly in spite of the fact that it would involve two hours stuck in traffic jams and fourthly and most importantly I learned early on the day I was to depart that Air France had cancelled the flight from Paris to Madagascar.

Now this was serious, the next AF flight was on the 23rd, so I would miss the first and most important section of the tour. I took the bus up to Heathrow feeling very depressed, I was flying to Paris but when would I get to Madagascar and would I ever get to see those species that could only be seen on the first part of the tour? As it happened I heard before I got to Heathrow that Birdquest had managed to book their three affected clients on the last three seats on an Austral Air flight to Reunion, from there we were to take an Air Mauritius flight to Mauritius and another to Tana in Madagascar to arrive 16 hours later than planned. They say ‘all’s well that ends well’ as I had more time in Paris with John and Florence than originally planned and would only loose time in Madagascar that was lost anyway.

I say ‘all’s well that ends well’ in good faith because as I write this I’m still at John’s and there is plenty of opportunity for further cock ups.

IMG_0097 John and Florence

Florence has for many years been involved in a ‘Son et Lumiere’ event that has been performed for decades in the small town of Ailly sur Noye near Amiens. With Florence already there John drove me to the site and we enjoyed a very professional performance by the local amateurs. Florence is in period costume and John tries on one of the props.

IMG_0094 Florence's nephew

I was introduced to many members of Florence’s extended family, but not speaking French it all went over my head, although I do remember kissing a lot of people on the cheek. Here Florence’s nephew sits on one of the 35 horses used in the performance.

IMG_0092 Son et Lumiere

The Son et Lumiere event was spectacular to put it mildly. A cast of 500, each playing up to seven different characters, enact the history of Picardie from the Iron Age to WW2. The stage included the lake, a causeway across it, an island and the woods and fake windmill in the background.

IMG_0061 the set

Up to 3000 people attend each performance to see the spectacular lighting effects and the re-enactment of local history.

IMG_0090 smoke

Backlit smoke clouds billow over the trees.

IMG_0037 Romans

The historical pageant involved the Roman invasion …….

IMG_0072 French Revolution

…. the French Revolution …..

IMG_0035 Liberation

… and the liberation by the Allies at the end of WW2

IMG_0103 Isle l'Adam

On the 20th we went for a walk around Ilse l’Adam where John and Florence live although they doesn’t have one of these lakeside residences …….

IMG_0104 River Oise

… walked along the River Oise ….

IMG_0108 Isle l'Adam

….. before returning through the picturesque town. As far as killing time due to flight delays goes, this has to be one of the best.

Posted September 20, 2014 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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