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Reflecting on our recent three weeks in France, here are two more stories that are highlights for us.

1. Night Prowl: The Ancient Town of Viviers 

While our river cruise boat smoothly navigated the Rhone River, it made an evening stop at the ancient town of Viviers. Established in the 5th century, this medieval community once had 30,000 people. Today, 4000 people still live in the old stone houses and travel the narrow cobblestone streets.

Our group of flashlight-armed night invaders navigated the tree-lined streets to the centre of the old town.
We stopped often to hear stories of life in Viviers hundreds of years ago. The lower part of the town housed the trade workers. Up above them lived the clergy, in comparative luxury. We were on the watch for ghosts.
Making our way through the zig zagged streets, we ascended to the upper part of town, dominated by the church.
The views from the church were beautiful on this clear night.
Our guide was full of stories as we paused to reflect on life in this village centuries ago.
The view from above.
Heading down to the lower part of town, we marvelled that people still live in this place that seems lost in the middle ages.
Flashlights in hand, our group headed back to the modern conveniences of our ship. The schedule did not allow us to see the town by daylight but our night prowl was a fascinating way to explore this village that is full of stories.

2. Steam Travel

The Train d’Ardeche is a restored steam train which ran for the first time in 1891. What a great experience it was to travel  33 km through scenic, mountainous valleys. As we rumbled along on a warm, sunny day, my perch was the gap between two cars where I could see in both directions and catch a few photos.

Almost ready to go!
The cabin is decked out in beautiful wood. My wife (at the back on the right) is used to being a camera widow.
Hanging out of the side of the train, I could see the photo ops ahead.
The views were stunning as we rumbled along beside the canyon.


When we got to our destination, the train had to be manually turned around for the return trip.
Another train showed up for a visit. Maybe this was Thomas the Train!
Lots of action as the engineer gets the train ready for the return trip.
Heading home!
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