Departing from Marne le Vallée, our fast TGV train is delayed 1 3/4 hours but once we get going it’s a very quick trip at just over 3 1/2 hours.
This train is better than the Zürich to Paris connection although we’re not fed a meal this time. However, we are seated together and have a great view as we’re on the top level of a double-decker carriage.
Between Paris and Lyon it is primarily open farmland: verdantly green with short, zig-zagging hedges performing as borders between paddocks; quaintly rustic farmhouses frequently dotted amongst tall woodlands and low rolling hills.
After Lyon it’s initially industrial: busy factories and warehouses and their straight, connecting roads. Yet it then too opens up to flat, rural districts with countless metallic electricity pylons, the steam rising from domineering power plants or carbon-conscious wind turbines standing dormant as the late-afternoon sunlight reflects off the opaque plastic of curved greenhouses.
But it’s more brown than green here. Perhaps more wooded and definitely more hilly with bare orchards and naked vineyards waiting patiently to be clothed by the warmth of Spring.
The silhouetted ruins of one castle crumbling on a distant hilltop and an ancient aqueduct running besides the rail tracks reminds us of the history beckoning us on this final leg of our European trip.