Under the Paris Sky: My Trip to France - Part 5 Saumur (CORRECTED)

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Jul 27, 2015 02:27
Continued from Part 4
Saumur is another small town in the Loire region. Like Angers, it has a lovely castle (with fancy spires!) within walking distance from downtown. But unfortunately, the castle was closed for renovation. A part of the structure was covered, and there was scaffolding around it. So the scenery in the immediate was not very lovely, to say the least.

Saumur is also famous for its sparkling wines, and has multiple producers which offer guided tours of their cellars. I took a bus and visited one of them. A French woman of Asian descent gave me a full tour, even though I was the only visitor at the time.

Another memorable place for me in Saumur is the tourist information office, even though it’s not a sightseeing spot. It was spacious, comfortably air-conditioned, and also had a lovely souvenir shop in it. They allowed tourists to use their lockers for free. The tourist information office in Angers was also a modern place. In both offices, the staff was helpful and efficient. I'm sure they're greatly appreciated by tourists coming from all across the world, and demonstrate how important France considers its tourism industry. I thought about tourist information centers in smaller cities in Japan. I doubt if they are as spacious and comfortable as the ones in Saumur and Angers.

My time in Saumur was short. The sun in June was still high in the sky, but I had to get back to the station to catch the train to Paris. It was about a half-an-hour walk from downtown. While walking, I turned around many times to try to remember the impressive landscape of this small Loire city--a castle on the hill overlooking a river with an artistic-looking stone bridge.

On the platform of the Saumur station, I didn’t know which car of the train I was supposed to ride, so I asked a person who was also waiting for the train. I ended up having a pleasant conversation with this Frenchman for the next hour about France, Japan, travels, jobs, etc.

Interacting with locals like that always makes you feel good, especially when traveling alone. It kind of makes you feel welcomed and being a part of their world. It certainly will stay in my memory for many years.

Speaking of interactions with locals, I asked for directions so many times on the streets, in metros, and at train stations. Of course, I didn’t ask passers-by haphazardly. It took courage to stop someone. Probably as many people do, I tried to look for a friendly-looking person, and that was not always easy in a big city like Paris. Everybody was walking fast and nobody looked willing to offer help to a helpless tourist.

There were a couple of occasions where I got an unfriendly response, but other than that, people were generally kind and helpful. I guess French people, especially people in Paris, are used to being stopped and asked by tourists.

To be continued in Part 6: http://lang-8.com/997612/journals/199578348948128778960302286700863423249
(This journal has been corrected and revised.)
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Original before correction:
Continued from Part 4
Saumur is another small town in the Loire region. Like Angers, it has a lovely castle (with fancy spires!) within the walking distance from downtown. But unfortunately, the castle was closed for renovation. A part of the structure was covered and there were scaffolds around it. So the scenery in a close distance was not very lovely, to say the least.

Saumur is also famous for sparkling wines, and it has multiple sparkling wine producers which offer guided tours of the cellar. I took a bus and visited one of them. A French woman of Asian descent gave me a full tour, even though I was the only visitor at the time.

It’s not a sightseeing spot but one of the places I remember in Saumur is the tourist information office. It was spacious, comfortably air-conditioned, and also had a lovely souvenir shop in it. They allowed tourists to use their lockers for free. The tourist information office in Angers was also a modern place. In both offices, the staff was helpful and efficient. France considers the tourism as an important economy, and I’m sure it’s very appreciated by tourists coming from all across the world. I thought about tourist information centers in smaller cities in Japan. I doubt if they are spacious and comfortable like the one in Saumur.

The time in Saumur was short. The sun in June was still high in the sky, but I had to get back to the station to catch the train to Paris. It was about a half-an-hour walk from downtown. While walking, I turned around many times to try to remember the impressive landscape of this small Loire city--a castle on the hill overlooking a river and an artistic-looking stone bridge.

On the platform of the Saumur station, I didn’t know which car of the train I was supposed to ride, so I asked a person who were also waiting for the train. We, this friendly French man and I, ended up having a pleasant conversation for the next one hour about France, Japan, travels, jobs, etc.

Interacting with locals like that always makes you feel good, especially when traveling alone. It makes you feel welcomed and being a part of the world, kind of. It certainly will stay in memory for many years.

Speaking of interactions with locals, I asked for directions so many times on the streets, in metro and train stations. Of course, I didn’t ask prassers-by haphazardly. It took me courage to stop someone. As probably many people do, I tried to look for a friendly-looking person. But that was not always easy in a big city like Paris. Everybody was walking fast and nobody looked willing to offer help to a dumb (!) tourist.

There were a couple of occasions where I got an unfriendly reaction, but other than that, people were generally kind and helpful. I guess French people, especially people in Paris, are used to being stopped and asked by tourists.

To be continued in the final part.
パリの空の下 - フランス旅行記 パート5 ソミュール
パート4から続き
ソミュールもロワール地方の小都市である。アンジェと同様、ダウンタウンから歩いて行ける距離に素敵なお城がある。しかし、不運なことに城は改修中のため入ることができなかった。建物の一部は建築用のカバーで覆われ、城の周りは足場が組まれていた。間近から見た城の情景は、控えめに言っても「素敵」とは言い難かった。

ソミュールはスパークリングワインでも有名で、街では発砲性ワインを製造する複数の会社があり、製造過程を巡るツアーを提供している。私はバスに乗って生産者のひとつを訪れた。その時間見学者は私一人だけだったにも関わらず、アジア系と思われるフランス人の女性が全行程を案内してくれた。

観光スポットではないが、ソミュールでは観光案内所も印象深かった。広々としたオフィスはエアコンがよくきいていて快適だった。可愛いお土産品ショップも併設していた。アンジェの観光案内所もモダンだった。両方ともスタッフは親切でてきぱきとしていた。フランスは観光業を重要な産業と見なしている。そうした案内所は世界中から訪れる観光客にとって、ありがたい存在になっている。私は日本の中規模都市の観光案内所を思い浮かべてみた。ソミュールのような広々とした心地よいオフィスかどうかは怪しい。

ソミュールでの滞在はわずかだった。まだ日は高かったが、パリへ戻る列車に乗るため駅へ行かなくてはならなかった。ダウンタウンから駅までは徒歩で30分くらいだった。歩いている途中、私は何度も後ろを振り返り、ロワール河下流のこの小さな街の印象的な情景を心に刻もうとした。丘の上に河を見下ろすように城が建ち、河には趣のある石造りの橋が架かっていた。

ソミュール駅のホームで、列車のどの車輛に乗ればいいのかわからなかったので、待っている男の人に尋ねた。このフレンドリーなフランス人と私は、その後の一時間をフランス、日本、旅行、仕事など色々なことをお喋りして過ごした。

現地の人とのこうした交流はいつも楽しい気分にしてくれる。一人旅をしている時はなおさらだ。その土地の人に受け入れられたような、自分が世界の一部であるような、そんな感覚を味わう。記憶に残る思い出となるのは間違いない。

地元の人との交流と言えば、通りやメトロ、鉄道駅で数えきれないほど道を尋ねた。もちろん道行く人にやみくもに声をかけたのではない。人を呼び止めるのには勇気が要った。大抵の人がそうだと思うが、親切そうな人を探した。しかし、パリのような大都市ではいつも簡単に見つかるというわけではなかった。誰もが早足で通り過ぎて、間抜けな(!)旅行者を喜んで助けます、といった風情の人は一人もいなかった。

愛想のない態度をされたことは2回ほどあったが、それ以外はおおむね親切に助けてもらった。フランス人、特にパリの人は、旅行者に呼び止められ道をきかれるのに慣れているのだろう。

最後のパートに続く。