Traveled today from Paris to Marseille on the TGV high-speed train. You really know how fast it is when another train passes by on the tracks — by the time you realize there’s another train passing, it’s already gone. The TGV travels over 200 mph, so fast it made my ears pop several times. The trip took three hours and 10 minutes, I made a reservation online before leaving the states and was able to select the seat I wanted. And it came with views of the French countryside that make for such a pleasant journey, including field after field of poppies, mustard and lavender.
Train travel in Europe, especially the Metro in Paris and the Tube in London, is such a perfect method of transportation. Trains crisscross France and in between countries, including the Chunnel between France and Great Britain (although I’ve never gone through the Chunnel, there’s just something about being in a tunnel under the ocean that gives me the heebie jeebies). Trains and subways are the perfect ways to get from one place to another super fast, efficiently and pretty cheaply. If only we could replicate this in more cities in the US. I would be very happy to trade sitting in rush hour traffic in Atlanta any day. The only bad parts about the Metro are the pickpockets and beggars — they even announce on the train in between each stop “Beware of pickpockets.” That’s sad. You just have to be aware and hold your purse very closely. On my first trip to Paris in 1979, I actually lost my wallet to a pickpocket on the Metro. And unbelievably, someone found it with my driver’s license and student ID inside (minus the money) and mailed it to me from France a few months after I returned.
I’m excited to be in Marseille, first time in the south of France. The area around Vieux Port (the old Port) is bustling, directly off the Mediterranean, supposed to be the cradle of the oldest city in France.
My hosts for the French Muse will pick me up on Tuesday for lunch and we’ll head to Lacoste where I’ll stay for the week as our base for exploring. I can’t wait to find all the secret brocantes (French flea markets) and antique shops they have lined up for the week.