France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Var

Bandol to Toulon - 18.9 km - Thursday 14th April 2011

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Nice country lanes as far as Oullioules. Then it was an unavoidable main road to Toulon.

Garmin Altitude Plot Garmin Mapsource Google Earth Pale yellow daisy Pale yellow daisy Pale yellow daisy Three cornered leek Three cornered leek Wild Pea Meadow Unknown Bulb Unknown Bulb Unknown Bulb Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown Ollioules Ollioules River Ollioules River Ollioules River Gladioli Gladioli Toulon Arrival Toulon Square Toulon Square Fountains Toulon New Hotel Amiraute

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Today the routine differed from anything that had gone before. To reduce travelling times and costs, five nights were booked in Marseille, six in Toulon and another five in Nice. Indeed the logistics looked difficult without this arrangement. So today was move-to-Toulon day.

For a special treat, and at minimal extra cost, a TGV ticket was procured.

In April 2009, Anne and I had a similar treat when we took the international Talgo express from Cerbère to Barcelona. This is the train that changes track guage, without the passengers having to get out, when moving between France and Spain. For our treat, we experienced a loud and amorous borracho (alcoholic). He even fancied Anne (Sixty something!). Our special treat was not a success and the train was old and knackered, soon to be replaced by the trans European Alta Velocidad. We were relieved when the police removed the drunk from the train.

I should have been forwarned. Once again there was an alcoholic in a semi-deranged state talking continuously apart from a couple of minutes when he nodded off. He was clever to travel on the TGVs because when you get thrown off the train, at least you are in a big city.where it's warmer and there are facilities.

The TGV arrived at 11:40 and it took ten minutes to get to the hotel. The check-in was quick and in the fastest turn-around ever, I repacked for the walk leaving all the heavy stuff behind. Back to the station and there was just enough time to get the ticket for the 12:23 to Bandol. There were no unpleasant people on this train. Just friendly locals. However there was grafitti scrawled everywhere but this does not spoil your day.

The walk was idylic from Bandol to Ollioules on narrow empty country lanes. In Ollioules some teenage boys decided to taunt me. As a teacher since 1976, their efforts were rather wasted. The final 6 km to Toulon were fairly typical of the approach to a big city with heavy traffic and little provision for pedestrians. Once the pavements started, Toulon was really rather nice especially after Marseille which was a litter strewn, traffic congested filthy rat ridden dump. The rats at night were as tame as the day time pigeons. I suppose that's what you get for booking the cheapest hotel you can find near the station.

The same technique in Toulon located a nice hotel near a big square with fountains. What a contrast. The hotel room also has enough sockets for the laptop, GPS and camera chargers.

On the final kilometre I had an unfortunate collision with a french lady of a certain age. She was not paying attention and wandered into my path which forced me into the hole that surrounds urban plane trees. This caused me to stagger and twist. I think my rucksac hit her with some force. Oops and sorry but no permanent harm was done!

A supermarket was located and bread, butter, cheese and some beer for a treat were purchased. The cheese was a random selection. The beer was Belgian. Casoulet, cold from the tin, is nice too. It's the French equivalent of baked beans with pork saussage but rather nicer.

Joy of joys. There is a supply of tissues in the room. The cold has evolved to the green epoxy glue stage and the very limited supply of tissues can no longer be dried in the Mediterranean sun for re-use. With great foresight, I brought a whole packet of Fisherman's Friends and the supply should last. These help to neutralise the more exterme coughing fits. Today, although the walk was shorter and on fairly easy terrain, it all felt rather tiring.

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