Today we took the train from Toulouse to Montpellier! We were both a little nerve-wracked about the process, but it turned out to be pretty painless after all :-).
Since the Gare (train station) was very close to our hotel, we walked over a few times - first for information, then for more information, then for tickets and boarding. We had looked into getting a Europass before our trip, but it didn't make sense for the amount and length of trips we were considering. And also, we were not absolutely sure we would take the train. Then we found out that ticket prices increase as the travel day approaches, and we thought about whether we should reconsider our lack-of-planning plan. Ultimately, we decided that being able to change our travel at the last minute was worth it. But we did spend some time looking at passes and tour packages, considered the bus (found out it doesn't do what we want for the longer distances), and found that fares also vary depending on the time of day and type of train (an express with reservations is more than a multi-stop 2nd class train).
So, our travel day arrived! We had an easy morning, but didn't dawdle much - breakfast, packing, walk to the train station. We arrived about and hour and a half before the train we wanted, bought our tickets, and waited. About 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time, the information board listed the track number for our train - we pulled our stuff together, got to our train, and found some seats. Makes sense of course, but no one can tell you how easy it is until you've actually done it. Or is that just me? It's just me.
On the train, we shared a table with a very nice woman who lived in Montpellier, and was returning from a visit with her son in Toulouse. We started off a bit shy of each other, but she soon found out that we spoke enough French to actually converse (YAY!!!), and we were all chatty by the time we got to Montpellier. She advised us to go to Carcassonne in the morning, because it gets very crowded later in the day. (We definitely have to remember that!) We all agreed that Narbonne was much warmer and sunnier than Toulouse (but she said that Narbonne has the Mistral, a very strong wind). We ate our lunch of bread, pate, raw veggies and fruit (pears!) - when I commented that it was difficult to have silverware on a trip, she said (something to the effect of) "well, you're voyaging! you don't have to worry about that!" And after all, it's not as though we made a big mess. And the pate (forestier and foie gras from the market) was *amazing!*
When we got off the train, Madame even pointed us in the right direction for our hotel. We fumbled around a little bit, but then pulled out our maps (such tourists!), and walked straight to it!