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Old May 8th, 2015 #1
Ian Smith son
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: France
Posts: 5,779
Ian Smith son
Default France by rail: A new train service connects London to Marseille

This month, for the first time, the Thames and the Mediterranean are connected by a direct train: Eurostar's new year-round link from London St Pancras to Marseille St-Charles. So, you can breakfast in the capital, then whizz along High Speed One (opened 2007) through Kent to the Channel Tunnel (opened 1994) before slotting into France's ever-expanding high-speed network (opened 1981).

Relax as almost the entire length of France blurs past at 186mph, and cross the "classic" line that once carried the Orient Express east from the Seine to the Bosphorus. Pause only in the fine cities of Lyon and Avignon, and arrive in the deep south within six-and-a-half hours of leaving London. Planes may be marginally quicker, but they will be more stressful. And with fares starting at 49.50, the train is regaining the edge from flying no air passenger duty payable (Eurostar: 03432 186 186;

Once in Marseille, you could change to a ferry and continue across Corsica, or take one of the dramatic lines that snake along the coast, clinging to the cliffs east to Nice and Menton, or beside the gentler shores west to the Spanish frontier. Not that there is any need to stop at the border: France has easy links to all its neighbours: Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland; Basel station even has a special terminus for French trains. From Basel, you could be back in Paris in three hours aboard a Train Grande Vitesse, the high-speed backbone of French long-distance travel, or board a "classic" EuroCity train, the Vauban, beside the Rhine through Alsace and Lorraine to the city of Metz.



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