Published on July 28th, 2015 | by Ann Rickard0
Europe By Train
On my way from Avignon to Basel via Geneva (said she humbly, but gee it looks good in print), I had a sudden epiphany. You might too if you were sitting in a spacious seat, sipping a glass of chilled rose wine, nibbling on a ham and brie baguette watching fields of waving lavender and smiling sunflowers flash by.
“I will never drive in Europe again,” I said out loud. I was on the TGV, a very fast train going about 250kmh, so smooth I’m sure it was floating half a metre above the tracks. You could say I was lulled.
I had been travelling from the elegant city of Avignon to various parts of Europe every year for the past 10 years and thought back to times before that when I stupidly drove. Why would any Australian traveller (a) go through the anxiety of driving on the other side of the road from the sensible one we drive on, and (b) suffer horrendous traffic and the ensuing fights with your mate.
Train travel in Europe is so efficient, so fast, so comfortable. Buying your ticket before you leave Australia means you don’t even have to go to the ticket window at the European station, let alone face long queues as you would at airports.
There is no hanging around waiting to board, you can get to the station 10 minutes before the train leaves. You arrive in the middle of city centres, and if you have ever driven a car into the heart of Paris, Barcelona, Madrid or Rome you’ll know the joy of that.
The trains have power points at the seats, so you can plug in your own entertainment, but with glorious scenery out of the window in so many countries, it’s a pleasure just to stretch out (plenty of leg room, another advantage) and watch Europe flash by.
All these splendid benefits, and did I mention the bars on board? Wine and baguette in hand behind the wheel of a car? I don’t think so.
We take the TGV direct from Charles de Gaulle Airport every year as soon as we land, and arrive in Avignon in the south two comfortable hours later, where all of Provence awaits us. Once done with Provence, it’s back to Avignon for the TGV to take us wherever our hearts direct in Europe.
With 30 countries and 25,000 destinations on more than 11,000 different routes, Rail Europe gives us myriad choices