The TGV is, in short, the symbol of modern France. It counterbalances the retro side that makes so much of the image of the country – wine, châteaux, cassoulet – which transports everything into the 21st century. It is the inorganic equivalent of Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Dupont and Angèle.
And it can count on my continued custom, especially when – as sometimes happens – the first class costs only a few euros more than the second and leaves enough legroom for a young okapi. He certainly finished everything on the automobile. The TGV not only goes much faster but in doing so you can read, sleep, play chess, download a movie, beat junior at Guess Who ?, drink wine or look absently out the window, all of this would create complications. if you were driving. You also don’t need to find a parking space when you arrive, or worry that your car will attract the attention of the criminal classes.
The TGV has therefore animated French life for four decades. Unless I’m greatly mistaken, different elements in Britain are still arguing over the HS2. True, the French were wrong about the Covid vaccines – but they have the high-speed train nailed down. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.
Three of the best TGV journeys from Paris
A vacation in itself, breaking the trip to Reims, capital of champagne, Metz with its grandeur of yellow stone and in the midst of beer, sauerkraut and the Franco-German vigor and vigor of Strasbourg.
A little over two hours in Bordeaux and, when you are done, on the Basque coast from Biarritz. It seems ideal to me.
Quickly towards Marseille then towards the Côte d’Azur at a calmer pace: the extension of the Marseille-Nice high-speed line has been controversial for ten years or more. Leave that to the French and just enjoy the exceptional views of the seascape which haven’t changed much since Queen Victoria dragged her this way in a car with Louis XVI furniture, a vacation entourage of 60 and her own Irish stew supplies.