The other day a booklet dropped through our door from the department de l'herault advertising the local bus network. I'm currently village bound as hubby takes the car to Montpellier & leaves it at the airport (his flights are too unsocial in hours for me to drag the youngsters out of bed & a taxi quoted 180 euros each way - I kid you not for 60km!).
So I thought, heck why not take the bus into Pezenas for the afternoon, take the kids to a the bigger park where there might be some children on a Wednesday afternoon. We set off at 12.30 & on the route picked up 2 stray dogs who accompanied us to the bus stops (I tried to shake them off by walking to the next stop but they just kept following until eventually I gave up & they sat down next to us).
As the girls & our canine friends awaited the bus we were joined by un jeune kicking a rugby ball about in the road (I explained to Jasmine she's not allowed to join him as he's big & she's little & she isn't allowed to play in the road - what else do you say off the cuff to a 21m old?) Oh and no she can't play with the dog either as we don't know him, nice as he might seem - you need to know the dog before you can play with it. So far this outing had become a lot of 'No's, not exactly what I planned.
The bus arrived and I was dismayed to see 4 steps to lug the pushchair up in order to get on, the driver showed no signs of providing any assistance so I eventually asked him to open the middle doors as there was no way the buggy would pass at the front (surely he would already know this as it's his bus & he drives it everyday!). He looked at me strangely then opened the doors. We boarded the bus & started off on the scary drive to Pezenas (now I know that when I think the buses are zooming at me on small single track lanes, they actually are zooming 80kmh in fact and I shall always give way from now on!).
A couple of people got on the bus and wanted to talk to us (is this normal? have I spent too much time in London?) I smiled and tried not to engage too much in case they were the local deranged (sorry but I'm not a seasoned bus traveller and most of my other experiences on public transport have ended up with me being sat next to someone with unusual habits or tastes in life to be pc). It cost 1.50 each way.
We arrived early to Pezenas (not surprising given our landspeed record) and we took off round the shops. First stop a cafe for a loo trip & nappy change. No cafe's I've yet found in Pezenas have baby changing facilities (floor anyone?) Then we went to the park which was warm, sunny & very busy. I bit my tongue when Jasmine sat down in the sand & started playing (heaven forbid she might have got her new clothes dirty). I'm not used to having my children getting messy yet (crikey they are still double bibbed at mealtimes) so having her sit in sand was a big achievement for me. I will relax into this parenthood thing I promise you.
It started to get cooler so we left the park & went for another drink, at this point I really wanted to get in my nice car & drive home but no, we had an hour before the bus went back to our village. Tired by their exertion in the park both girls now slept whilst I read BlahBlahBlah (the local bilingual mag) and enjoyed a coffee. Half hour early I went and stood at the bus stop which was rapidly filling with les jeunes scrounging cigarettes & generally hanging around looking either moody or dopey eyed at each other. Why do they all wear black?
Eventually crazy bus turned up & we got on where we sat waiting for 15mins with Jasmine repeating 'go bus go'. Yes darling I know you want to go home, so do I, but it's a bus and we have to wait for the driver to decide when to go home, welcome to public transport ma cherie. I made sure to do up our seat belts this time, looping Jasmine's round her waist so she didn't get her head cut off when he brakes sharply at the bend near our village. As we left the village next door he picked up speed and I'm not kidding I actually had to close my eyes. If you imagine this big speeding bus & deep verges at road side whizzing past you then maybe you can sort of see why. It was far more scary than anything at Europark could offer.
Finally we arrived back in our village & the driver helped Jasmine off the bus whilst un jeune kindly helped me descend the pushchair off the middle of the bus (it had almost fallen out anyway when the doors opened - luckily no child was in it!). The dogs had seen sense and gone home somewhere for tea and as we wearily walked back home I sent a text to my husband saying I'm NEVER AGAIN taking the bus!
UK Stores Delivering Overseas
P.S. I'm also thinking that having spent 3euro on bus fares & 5euro on 2 coffees it represents good value to pay postage and buy online with the local post lady delivering direct to my door rather than to struggle into town with kids in tow & I can order from the comfort of my own home whilst the kids are asleep, making shopping all round a more pleasant experience.