No boy loved trains more than George, from his first train which he got when he was just 1 year old until now, George has always been mad about trains. His grandfather had been an engine driver on steam and electric trains and takes George all over the U.K. and Europe to see trains. It was the beginning of July and George and his grandfather were off on their travels. George found it hard to concentrate on his school work, all he could think about was his holiday with his grandfather.
When school finished, he ran home, flung open the door and shouted "Grandad, are you ready?" Grandad laughed and replied "George, we have 4 hours before we need to leave. " They both giggled and sat down and ate tea, afterwards George helped his mum pack his suitcase. Finally it was time to leave and outside was the taxi to take them to St Pancras and they were going to take the Eurostar to Paris. When they got to Paris, they were meeting a very old friend of Grandad's and they were staying with him and his family.
Grandad smiled, George was so excited when he saw not one but three Eurostar trains, he jumped for joy. "Which one is ours grandad?" he asked. Grandad pointed out which train was theirs and George started to walk towards it, Grandad called him back and said they had to wait 10 minutes. For George those 10 minutes were the longest in his life, but finally they opened the barrier and very quickly George and grandad found their seats. As they sped through the English countryside and towards Paris, George could no longer keep his eyes open and fell asleep. "George, George, wake up, we are in Paris", said Grandad. George opened his eyes and saw they really were in Paris.
Waiting for them was Grandad's friend, his name was Louis and he had bought his wife to meet them too. Louis had driven steam and diesel trains during his time with the French railways. Louis took them to his car and drove through the night Paris traffic. "Grandad, he is driving on the wrong side of the road," whispered George. Grandad giggled and whispered back "George, remember we are in France now and they drive on the other side of the road." George laughed and realised he had been asleep on the train and thought he was still in England.
Louis drove them in the morning to his favourite cafe to have breakfast, it was opposite the Louvre Museum. Like Grandad, Louis loved art and the Louvre Museum was the largest art museum in the world, so for them it was the perfect place to have breakfast. As they waited to be seated Louis said to Grandad "Are you going to have escargots?" George turned to Grandad and said "what are escargots?" Grandad bent down and whispered in George's ear "snails." "SNAILS !!!!!!, Yuck." said George. With that Louis and Grandad burst out laughing and Grandad said to George "Louis loves to play tricks on people, we are not having snails, you can have some ham and eggs, anything you want."
During breakfast Grandad told George he had a big surprise for him. He went on to tell him, " you know Louis has worked on the French railways all his life, well as you know he is retired now, but he is now the curator of a living history museum of trains, steam and electric, as well as diesel." "Oh Grandad REALLY !!!!" replied George. "Yes." Said Grandad. George turned to Louis and asked Louis when can they go? Louis replied "when we have finished our coffee, we can go." George turned to Grandad and said "Grandad drink up." With that everyone burst out laughing and they left to go to train museum.
The train museum was only a short train ride away and within 30 minutes George and Grandad, were standing in the middle of the museum, there were trains everywhere. Every where they went people were saying to Louis "conservateur Bonjour", George asked Louis what they were saying and Louis said they were saying good morning curator. Whoa thought George, Louis really is the curator, I thought he was telling me a joke. "This morning George we will see all the trains here in the museum, then we will have lunch and then I have a big surprise for you both this afternoon." Said Louis. Louis looked and George was quiet and looked a bit worried, Louis asked him what was wrong. George replied "we won't be having of those escargots things for lunch will we?" Louis laughed out loud and replied "No George."
Grandad hearing Louis laughing, came over and asked what was going on and when Louis told him, they all burst out laughing. George was in heaven there were so many trains to explore. There were guides by every train and George was very proud of his Grandad as he spoke very good French and could ask many questions about the trains. Louis kept going away, as this was actually a work day for him and would suddenly appear again without warning. George really liked Louis, it was like having a crazy French grandad. As the morning went on, George went from train to train, he was very impressed how well looked after the trains were.
Grandad was having a wonderful time, he missed driving trains and like Louis, had spent all his life on the railway. George watched as Grandad stopped to look at a train and he knew his Grandad was wishing he could drive a train again. Louis arrived to tell them it was time for lunch and stood for a moment with George watching his dear friend. "Your Grandad was the best train driver I have ever known." Said Louis. Louis went on to tell George, it didn't matter what his Grandad was driving, whether it was an express, or a shunting engine or a commuter train, he cared for them the same and that's what made him a very special driver.
Then Louis said "Mon ami, il est temps pour le déjeuner." With that Grandad joined them and they went to lunch, with George sighing a huge sigh of relief, that there will be no snails. As far as George was concerned, you found snails in the garden and that's where they should stay.
After lunch Louis continued to show them around the museum. This was okay, but George wanted to know what the surprise was, he kept looking at Grandad and Louis, but Louis was saying nothing. In the end George couldn't hold his excitement in any longer and said " Louis, what is the surprise?" Louis looked at him and knelt down and whispered in his ear " George it's not one surprise but two." Louis went on to tell him that now, he was going to take him and Grandad into the engineering section where the public are not allowed, so that they can see the work they do. Grandad said to George "we are lucky to see what they do." George grabbed Louis's hand and said "Merci Louis".
So they went through a door marked "aucune admission", George was all excited and run through the door, but was very disappointed, as it was a workshop full of tools, machines and metal. "Grandad this is boring, there are no trains here." George said. "Sssssh, let Grandad have his time here and then I will show you the real surprise." Said Louis. George nodded and Louis then told George, that Grandad started his railway life working in a workshop just like this, before he went onto the trains. In his day your Grandad learnt to make parts for the trains from scratch, that he was a very highly skilled engineer when he went from the workshop to the trains.
Many a time when your Grandad's train broke down, he knew how to fix it and even made temporary parts to get the train back to the engine sheds. George began to understand why his Grandad loved this workshop. George was very proud of his Grandad. As Grandad went round the workshop, looking at the tools, he stopped at a machine, George asked what it was and Grandad said it was a lathe. "Did you use one of these, to make pieces for the trains Grandad?" Asked George. "Yes", replied Grandad. Louis looked at George and winked and George winked back.
Louis then took them to another part at the back of the museum, there was a steam engine which had just been fully restored and was waiting to go on display, once Louis had checked it was ready. Louis had a clipboard and asked Grandad if he would like to check off everything on the list. Grandad was so happy, took the clipboard and started to check the engine. He spent over an hour checking every single part of the engine and then handed the clipboard over to Louis and told Louis, the engine was perfect. "Thank you Louis, I so appreciate this, you know how much I love steam engines." Said Grandad. What Grandad did not know, was he had one more surprise for Grandad, which he had told George about while Grandad was checking the engine.
"There is a problem I need to check on the platform, do you mind coming with me?" Said Louis. "Of course", replied Grandad. They followed Louis through a number of doors until they came to a platform, George thought he would burst with excitement. There standing at the platform was a steam engine with a full head of steam. "What's the problem?" asked Grandad. Louis looked at Grandad, giggled and replied "Oh the engine can't leave without a Englishman on the footplate?" "Really," said Grandad. Louis nodded and with that Grandad went up to the engine, spoke to the driver and got up onto the footplate and Louis and George got into one of the carriages. They spent the rest of the afternoon on the train and Grandad had an amazing time on the footplate and even drove the engine for a while.
That evening Louis had to go to a meeting, so Grandad and George went out to have dinner. The restaurant was at the end of a lane and looked out over a lake. As they approached the restaurant, George heard from the lake frogs croaking, Louis had teased him earlier about eating frog legs. "Grandad we are not going to be eating frog legs are we?" Asked George. Grandad giggled and said "No, George, we are going to have your favourite, chicken and chips." "Phew, that's alright then." Replied George.
After dinner, Grandad took George for a walk around Paris, Grandad had been to Paris many times, so he knew it very well and as they walked around he told George many interesting stories. They stopped at one very special place, it was where Grandad had proposed to Nanny. Every time Grandad came to Paris, he always came here. When they got home George was going to tell Nanny that they had been there and what a lovely place it was. Tomorrow was going to be their last day and they would go home in the evening back to England. George had decided he would like to come back to Paris, he liked it a lot and he loved Louis and his family.
On the following day, Louis took them to the tram station, to take a tram to the main station, so that they could catch a commuter train to their day out. However, they had to wait, as the driver had not arrived and the doors were closed. George was not happy about this, as he wanted to get to where they were going. When the driver arrived, George folded his arms and gave him one of his famous stares. The driver looked at George and said " Excuses, mais le chauffeur a téléphoné en malade, donc je suis le conducteur de remplacement." George looked at the driver, thought for a moment and replied "Well that's alright then, can you open the doors now?" Louis and Grandad burst out laughing and joined George on the tram.
As the station while they waited for their commuter train, Louis spoke to the station master and he allowed George and Grandad to go and have a close look at a high speed train. George was sad this was their last day, but his Grandad promised next school holiday he would bring George back to Paris and Louis said they could stay with him and his family again. The train they looked at was being prepared for a journey to the south of France, it was a place one day Grandad would love to take George too. They so got lost in time, that Louis suddenly appeared and told them they had just 5 minutes to catch their train.
They were very lucky, the guard held the train, until they safely got onboard. Louis was not going with them as there was a problem at the museum and Louis had to make sure it was sorted out. They were going to be on the train for an hour, for the first 30 minutes the carriage was very busy with people, but after that George and Grandad had the carriage to themselves. George was hungry and started to eat the sandwiches Louis's wife had prepared for them. It was George's favourite, thick slices of ham and mustard. As George ate his sandwiches, he looked around the carriage, he really loved this commuter train, it had massive windows, it was really quiet and was very clean.
When the train finally arrived at the little station, standing on the other platform was the steam train they were going to join. The trip was going to take them into the countryside and in the afternoon the train would stop by a lake and they would have a couple of hours to explore. Then return to the station, where they would catch the commuter train back to Paris. Louis would meet them with their cases, which they have packed in the morning, before they left. They totally enjoyed the time at the lake, but Grandad managed to totally embarrass George, by taking off his shoes and socks, rolling up his trousers and paddling in the lake. George tried to hide behind a tree, but Grandad spotted him and called out his name. George hoped his Grandad would stop calling out his name, but he didn't and to make matters worse, in the end, all the people from the train were calling out his name. So in the end he had to give in and join Grandad.
When they arrived back in Paris, as promised waiting on the platform was Louis and wife along with their cases. George had really enjoyed his first visit to Paris and was looking forward to coming back soon. Grandad asked what George had enjoyed about this trip. George thought about it for a moment and said " I have really loved seeing all the trains, but the thing I will take away from this trip is true friendship. You and Louis have been friends for nearly 40 years and I would really love to have a friend like Louis." They all hugged George and told him he will know when his Louis has arrived in his life.