France is a pretty big country (about twice the size of the UK), but despite this it is relatively speedy to move around.
First of all the population is roughly the same as the UK, which coupled with the French toll road system, means that the roads are quick and comparatively hold-up free.
More impressively however, France has an extensive network of high-speed rail linking around 150 towns and cities throughout France, whilst also continuing into Switzerland, Luxembourg, Netherlands & Belgium and linking with Germany’s lightning quick ICE trains and Spain’s AVE (a TGV now goes direct from Paris to Barcelona in six and a half hours), plus of course London with Eurostar.
This brings the total number of destinations served by TGV to 230.
The TGV reached speeds of up to 320kmh – not quite China’s Maglev (421kmh) but on a par with Japan’s Shinkansen and mightily impressive all the same.
For example, you can travel from Paris to Lyon in under two hours or Paris to Bordeaux or Marseille in three.
Isn’t it quicker to fly? Possibly, but where’s the fun in that? When you add in check in times and the fact that most airports are out of town (or out of region in the case of certain low-cost airlines!), then the time difference really starts to shrink.
The added bonuses then start to mount – you have a window of opportunity to see the countryside, can move about at will and for a real treat, take lunch or dinner in the dining car. When was the last time you had a memorable in-flight meal?
The possibilities for touring not just France, but its near neighbours too are endless. For more details of the fabulous seat that awaits you, look no further than the man in seat 61 website. If you fancy travelling a little further east, you could do worse than download my e-book highlighting my travels in 25 countries in the East of Europe, now available from Amazon.