This week I was tempted to book a round-trip train ticket from Paris… with the aller-retour taking place in just one day, with no destination in mind. Here’s why: I’m so smitten with train travel in France that I find I do my best work, and most creative work, while seated next to the window, watching the gorgeous landscapes fly by, sinking into various train-of-thought reveries, before having an “a-ha” moment in front of the computer. Call me crazy, but I’d book a ticket just for the trip itself, not to go any particular place. (Granted, the first class cars on the TGV are slightly more conducive to this type of comfort- with Christian Lacroix design and armchair style seating that I wouldn’t mind putting in my own apartment. But second class is also très bien.)
Train travel in France is fast, efficient, and a model for other countries around the world. The TGV flies at speeds up to 200 miles per hour, so a trip to Strasbourg in the far east of the country, which would take about five hours by car, takes two hours and change. Plus, you miss all the traffic on the autoroute and the notoriously bad food at the French rest stops. You can instead opt for Belgian beer from the TGV café car!
Booking: In the United States, you can reserve your tickets online with RailEurope.com, or, if traveling between London and Paris, on Eurostar.com. If you have paper tickets, don't forget to "compost" them-- or put them in the little yellow ticket machine for a validation stamp-- before getting on the train.
Image by SNCF-CAV/C. Recoura