On Tour with an Orchestra - Finale (Villefranche)

Published: August 15th 2015
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Geneva - Villefranche - Lyon

It was a long drive to Villefranche but eventually we got there. We milled around in another church waiting to be picked up by our new hosts. Unfortunately, in the chaos, someone's bag disappeared which contained musical instruments with both financial and sentimental value. This cast a shadow over the end of the tour.

Our new hosts were Jean and his wife Chantal. Jean, a short tanned man, was there to pick us up. As there were six of us staying at the same house we followed Jean in the minibus. The drive, getting ever deeper into wine country, felt like it went on for ever. In reality it was probably forty-five minutes. When we arrived we were met by Chantal and did proper introductions. We were shown to our rooms where each bed had a small packet of chocolate biscuits on the pillow. That was a lovely touch. When we'd dropped our bags off we went to the dinning room where dinner was ready for us. The meal was a nice opportunity to practise French... Jean and Chantal spoke some English but weren't confident speakers and none of us were fluent in French. It was nice to be able to practise in a safe environment.

The morning was quite rushed because we had to get out to church which was 45 minutes away. When we got to church the orchestra was made very welcome. One of the congregation had volunteered to translate for us. As I had an English bible on my iPad, I was asked to do the reading. After church Lindsey and I got chatting to some Brazilian girls, all of us speaking French as a second language. It was nice to chat but we didn't get much further than telling them we would be visiting their country at some point.

Soon it was time to leave and we piled into the minibus to be taken to the venue for the final concert. Once again the temperature was very high. We were relieved to find the venue was air conditioned, though disappointed when it went off after an hour. I helped unpack and then Lindsey and I wandered around the town.

Aside from an unusual cathedral, with a Romanesque back and Gothic front, there wasn't much to see in Villefranche and obviously everywhere was closed as it was Sunday. Our main objective though was to find the train station. We achieved this and then went back to the relative cool of the concert hall.

The concert hall was the only venue of the tour specifically designed for music performance. The acoustics were good and the concert a success. We had to leave very quickly after the concert, we had less than half an hour before our train to Lyon left Villefranche. I had arranged a lift for us and we had prepared our swift exit but that was delayed by having to say goodbye to everyone. We got there with a few minutes to spare and said goodbye to Neil who had given us a lift. We were on our own, our adventure had really begun.

Walking towards the station everything appeared closed down - every door was shuttered and bolted. Starting to get a bit concerned, I eventually found one door, so small we could only just get our bags through, that was open. We struggled with our four heavy bags across the concourse to the ticket machine and there tried to use the machine. It was almost impossible to use. It took several minutes to find the right tickets. I got to the pay screen and then it wouldn't recognise my card and I had to start all over again. Conscious of time ticking by I went through it again and this time it was successful. We struggled with our bags to get to the platform and dropped them there. We had about 5 minutes to spare.

We lumbered onto the train much to the distress of other passengers and stowed the bags. The journey was only about 20 minutes and then we lumbered off again and dumped our bags on the platform. We had arrived at Lyon Part Dieu station. We let the crowds dissipate whilst we caught our breath and then made our way with our bags downstairs to meet Lindsey's friend, Jean-Philippe.

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