Lyon, Marseille, Versailles, Paris

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Tour de France

Published by Barbarka Houfková — 5 years ago

When I was choosing my city for Erasmus programme the location played a big role. Lille seemed almost perfect as it is close to many countries... but when I started planning my trips I almost forgot that I should keep in mind exploring France. I haven´t been to France before so this exchange was my first time in France. During January my Slovak friend Lucia already started to look for possibilities where we could travel. It did not take her a long time to plan the trip. She found really cheap tickets to the south of France - through Paris, Lyon and Marseille. We chose Megabus because it often offers a lot of special deals, not only in France. We planned our crazy trip for the third weekend in March. Why crazy? I will explain it in a while.


Our plan

The main idea was to save money (because we want to travel the most we can) and efficiently use our time. Megabus met all these requirements. We booked tickets only for 15 pounds for the whole trip. It was unbelievable. Although when I saw our program I was not sure if I could survive it. We wanted to book accommodation only for one night out of 3 and we were prepared to sleep mostly in the bus.

The first day we wanted to visit the castle Versailles. After a whole day in Paris we found the bus heading to Lyon. It is really far from the northern part of France so the bus started at 11 pm and we were supposed to be in Lyon about 8 am in the morning. It seemed tiring but this way we saved money for the accommodation and by travelling during the night we saved a lot of time as well.


After one day in Lyon we were supposed to enjoy party life in Lyon and take the bus at 4 am following day because next bus went from 4 am to 9 am to Marseille. That was the worse part but I think that you can survive it. Finally, the last destination was Marseille as I said. We had again one day to explore this city. For the last night we decided to book the accommodation. Actually we did not want to sleep a lot because we were supposed to travel back to Paris the whole day on Sunday - 18 hours in total (15 hours to Paris and after 3 hours to Lille). It is even more than travelling from Lille to the Czech Republic! After all, we were supposed to arrive to Lille about midnight. We did not hesitate at all and we were excited about our March trip to the south of France. We immediately bought the tickets.


Our group

Firstly, we booked the trip only three people - Lucia, Katarina and me. We wanted other people to join us so we uploaded the trip into our school group. Thanks to it Bruno from Croatia joined us. We also agreed on the trip with our friend Juan from Argentina. Now I am really happy they joined us because sometimes we did not feel so safe in the south of France and it is always better with the boys. Actually a lot of other people from school wrote Lucia they were going for sure or that they already booked the tickets. Although as it happens, in the end they did not go. On the other hand, our new friend from Tanzania - Walter decided to join our group one day before the trip! Therefore, we were six people going and the trip started.



The first day started well. We took the bus from Lille to Paris. At that time I already visited the most-favourite places in Paris so we came up with an idea to visit Versailles (also because we did not buy the trip to Versailles with International club). Versailles is not so far from the city centre. After all it was a perfect idea because the entrance is free for European people under 26 and the round trip to the castle by train cost 7. 20 euros.


I do not know how it happened but we started our first day only with Lucia. Other people had some school obligations. It was quite difficult to pack my backpack because the weather in Paris and Lyon or Marseille was totally different. In Paris we could wear the winter jacket and in the south we could wear only t-shirt. Fortunately, on Thursday the weather was really nice in Paris. We asked at the information centre how to get to Versailles (finally I spoke little bit French), we took the train and we got there about 1 pm. Even though it was a weekday there was a huge line! At least we had a free ticket... We went quite quickly through the castle because there were hundreds of Chinese people taking pictures with everything and there was hot air and temperature. On the contrary, outside it was awesome. We were following the map and enjoying the atmosphere of Versailles with a lot of green places. I was so surprised when I checked the time because it was almost 6 pm! The castle closed at half past six. It is always true that when you are having good moments time goes fast. We were talking with Lucia about everything, we were eating our home-made baguette and we were walking everywhere. Our departure was coming so we took the train back to meet our friends in front of the Eiffel Tower.


A good piece of advise: never set your meeting point in front of the Eiffel Tower! When we got to the city centre of Paris, Juan sent us the message that we can meet there. We were waiting there one hour! And we were freezing. It was so difficult to contact another people because we did not have internet. First, we misunderstood. Then, we could not find the right place ("at the main entrance near the Eiffel Tower") and finally only Juan came. Katarina said she would meet us at the bus station and Bruno and Walter as well. So when we finally met Juan we had a quick coffee and we started walking to the bus station.



Surprisingly, everybody was already there. The bus was not even full so we all had our own seat and we just fell asleep in the bus. The next day we arrived to Lyon at 8 am. We were not so tired but we really needed to have a coffee and breakfast. Firstly, we went to the information centre and we took a map and we found a place for having breakfast. I remembered that we occupied all the plugs to charge our phones and computers. Afterwards, we brushed our teeth in the bathroom and also we changed our clothes. After two hours we were prepared to explore Lyon. The weather was amazing.


It was my first time when I wore only t-shirt since January and I enjoyed it a lot! We decided not to use the metro because by walking we can see more things. First stop was a zoo. It was just a normal zoo but walking in the park, having wine and food with sunny weather; that was all we wanted.


The problem was when we decided to have a lunch/dinner. 4 pm was the least appropriate timing for having it. We were choosing the restaurant almost one hour and after we arrived at the conclusion that eating in the restaurant would be impossible because in France they have special break between 2 and 6 pm. I could not believe it. I did not realize it but it was like that. You can have either lunch until 2 pm or either dinner after 6 pm. Therefore, the only possibility was having some fast food. Fortunately, we found Domino pizza. At the beginning, we were not so happy about it but after we found a nice place with river where a lot of people were chilling on the ground. So we started eating this tasty pizza.


To explore the city we decided to walk up to the hill where we had a nice view of whole Lyon. It was almost the evening and it was even better with lights.

After that, it came the funny part of our trip. As I said we had to stay awake until 4 am to take the bus to Marseille. Now I am ashamed to mention it but we started with our party in McDonald´s. I felt like I went back to the time when I was sixteen. During the night it was cold and if we had gone to the bars and stayed there until 4, we would have paid a lot! So we just bought a lot of bottles of wine and we had a pregame there. Maybe it is one thing we will all remember because we had a lot of fun there. Actually I was surprised they did not kick us out. Every time when we opened the bottle Katarina made a very funny noise as loud as it was possible. In addition, she was in a mood to be loud as always. I love having party with her. That evening Arnaud and Andreas were coming to Lyon as well to spend time with Arnaud´s family. It was a perfect opportunity to see each other but they were too tired to meet us (excuses as always). After getting drunk, we went to the bar. The atmosphere in Lyon at night was not pleasant to me. I can even say that I could not imagine being on exchange there because I did not feel safe there.

The whole evening was super weird. I don´t even know if I am allowed to tell the story but I will just mention the main facts. One thing was that Walter was not able to book the tickets with us and he had to spend more time in Lyon. We were not so happy to let him there alone but we could not do anything. The second thing was that we all argued together. I don’t know the real reason. I just remember that when I went with Lucia to the bar to go to the bathroom others were angry that we were there alone. In my mind I have a lot of memories. When we were finally walking toward the bus station, in the first row Juan and Lucia were walking and just behind them we were with Bruno. I remember that Katarina seemed to me quite drunk and I was thinking of walking next to her but I already knew her and every time she was responsible. Why should it be different? I could not imagine that she could disappear. Nevertheless, exactly this happened. We were talking with Bruno and when I turned my head Katarina was not there. I was totally shocked. We had only few minutes until the departure of the bus and she left. More surprising was that when I called her, she did not even pick the phone up and she just sent me a text saying: "Don´t care about me. I am staying. "

Seriously? I was totally stunned. It was just too much. But of course now I have different point of view and actually we are going for a trip together again in one week and we are just making fun of that evening. Hopefully, everything will be fine next time. To sum up, after all we found Katarina. But we have a theory that someone maybe put something into her drink in the bar. It was so weird. After spending almost every party with Katarina in Lille I can honestly say that she is used to drinking a lot and I don’t think she would act like this after the amount of alcohol we have drunk. In addition, she really did not want to enter the bus (which was weird) and in the morning she did not even remember what had happened at that night.


All drama went away and we had our last day in Marseille. A lot of people warned me that the city is not so beautiful. For me, it was just a normal city where I also did not feel safe and it seemed to me too dirty. However, we found a beach and we also walked up to the hill for having a nice view at night and I liked it.


Actually, we had nice moments on the top of the hill because we felt emotional about whole semester (during watching the farewell video of Mattia – our friend who already left to Paris in the middle of semester). Also, I tried a really good cherry beer there.


The other important thing in Marseille was the wheel. Because wheels are my thing. When I moved to Lille I was so impressed that we had a wheel in the main square. Unfortunately, after two weeks it disappeared. I started a tradition to have a ride every time when I am in a new city and there is this kind of attraction. I did it in Lille and in Paris and that´s the end of the tradition. In Marseille nobody wanted to have a ride with me and in London it was super expensive.


In Marseille, I also took a typical French picture with a coffee and a croissant. It is my favourite one.


On our way back, we had a quick stop in Paris again. We decided to visit a quartier called Montmartre. When I was at high school I heart a lot about it from my French teacher. Of course we saw the Moulin Rouge and the basilica Sacre Coeur. It is really a nice part of Paris and it is definitely worth seeing. Afterwards, in the shop I fell in love with cards saying quotes. I have to admit that I am crazy about quotes. Sometimes I spend a lot of time reading them. I just like the fact that some of them perfectly suits the situations I have been through. I did not buy any of them but I recorded them.


"The joy is in the everything, we must learn to extract. "

Regarding the quotes I will also use the quote of Walter used in this picture:


"When it comes to race, I am colorblind. "

In Marseille we were not lucky with accommodation. The problem was that we booked only the room for two people even though we were six. Normally, it would be okay (in case we booked the apartment) but unfortunately it was a hotel and there was an unfriendly guy sitting at the reception whole time. Of course he noticed that we were more than two. Therefore, we had to change the room and we were not supposed to be there together at the same time. We all took a shower one by one. I hated that even though we “had” accommodation we had to spend the last night out again. It was even worse than the previous evening because we had to wait until 5:30 am for our bus. At the end we survived. We did not have another option.


This trip happened 2 months ago, so I don’t really have clear memories about it. Anyway, for sure I can say I enjoyed these 4 days full of adventure and joy a lot! And it got me closer to all people. It is the thing that matters to me and I am really happy for it. I can´t wait having another trip with Bruno and Katarina – we are going again to the south of France in few days - to Bordeaux, Nantes and Arcachon… We will see what will happen this time!


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