The TGV Train from Paris to Agde  » Railway  »
4.5
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  • When you consider how huge a machine the train is and the terrific speed it moves at, it is no great surprise that there is an amount of swaying and vibration
  • Undaunted by the way we were eating up the miles between Paris and the Mediterranean, I decided to visit the restaurant car
  • One of the things I have noticed in the decades of visiting France that I have experienced is that they are becoming increasingly influenced by what they call the ‘Anglo-Saxons’
  • It is amazing that the food available consisted of sandwiches which no one would want to eat as they had not one drop of moisture in them
  • It was a short journey of about three or so hours, I think

    • by Anglecynn
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      This was an exciting journey as I had never been on the TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse/High Speed Train) before. Whereas Great Britain has had a rather fraught relationship with trains since Beeching closed great swathes of the network down in the early 1960 and Thatcher concentrated on motorways in the 1980s, by comparison, the French have spent time and money on trains that cross their country in half the time British trains would take to make the same journey. Partly due to their state intervention in industry, there is a much more centrally-controlled economy in France which we have not seen in Britain since the end of the Seventies. This means that there are still lots of public works being built, whether it be motorways in Brittany, bridges in the Vendee or railways….everywhere.

      I would certainly not wish to do the French down for producing something rather fun, if truth be told. I am a Francophile anyway. I have been there so many times that I would probably be unable to give an accurate figure for the number of journeys and stays I have had. Although I have been to and from the south coast several times by train, I had never made the journey on a really fast train before. I was really looking forward to it.

      Arriving at the Gare de Lyon (the station in Paris from which the TGV to Agde leaves), there was a scene of general pandemonium as


      several hundred people tried to find the right carriage. Naturally, the carriage numbers were so obscure that even the French couldn’t find them. As being obscure, or doing things differently from everyone else on Earth is an ingrained habit in France (and one of which I heartily approve, for who wants to be predictable?), I was quite happy to ask which carriage was ours, as it saved a lot of time. In fact, the railway servant I asked told me and it immediately became clear that no one else had any better an idea than I did, so we all proceeded to pile aboard. I was fascinated by the idea of a double-decker train, especially if it does whatever (200mph?). I was amazed to find that it had actually done over 350mph! Impressive stuff!

      Inside, the carriage was fairly uninspiring. The décor was a sort of pale bluey-grey. The seats were comfortable enough, though. When the train pulled out, it was very gently. However, soon, it picked up speed and the landscape fairly flashed by. It is a point of interest that when travelling in a TGV, there is absolutely no point in trying to see things that are anywhere near you. They will be gone before you can say, ‘Jack Robinson’. It is necessary to study the middle and far-distance.

      On the way to Agde, a smallish place on the Mediterranean coast, I was interested to see that we were passing through some quite ...


      • beautiful countryside. Stops were very few. A small incident requiring ‘les flics’ (the cops) at one station. We read on, dozed, or gazed at the countryside in air-conditioned comfort. However, comfort of a different sort required a visit to the on board facilities and it was good to see that they were clean and efficient. I gave them a B plus. It must be said, however, that the speed of the train still makes for a journey that isn’t entirely steady. When you consider how huge a machine the train is and the terrific speed it moves at, it is no great surprise that there is an amount of swaying and vibration.

        Undaunted by the way we were eating up the miles between Paris and the Mediterranean, I decided to visit the restaurant car. Interestingly, it was on the upper deck, so I climbed the stairs, climbing over various bodies on the way and made it along two carriages (travel between carriages is upstairs only) to the restaurant car. One of the things I have noticed in the decades of visiting France that I have experienced is that they are becoming increasingly influenced by what they call the ‘Anglo-Saxons’. Us, in other words. It is sad, but true, that the French are becoming increasingly adept at making food that would belong in a Wolverhampton chippy circa 1965. It is amazing that the food available consisted of sandwiches which no one

        would want to eat as they had not one drop of moisture in them. Desiccated is the word that comes to mind. The coffee was so good that it could (almost) have been sold on an old British Rail train in the late 1990s, but the tea wasn’t made with hot water (the French have no idea how to make tea) and the rest seemed to be apple pies with a pseudo English name. The view was good though. We were rattling on and it was so good that I suspect that most people didn’t even notice the food they were eating. I, for one, was entranced as mountain ranges flew past and really attractive towns whose name I may never know smiled at us as we sped by.

        It was a short journey of about three or so hours, I think. I sat gazing out of the window most of the time, and really didn’t do much else. I didn’t read. I watched the countryside and the towns that flashed by. I listened to the French people and tried to sort out where they were from by their accents. When the train pulled into Agde, it was to hysterical laughter from two Parisian students who were laughing at the announcer’s southern accent as she said we were approaching, “Ag-duh”. It had been a short journey and a fast one, but overall, it has been an extremely exhilarating one. I look forward to doing it again!




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