Taking a High Speed Train to a relaxing vacation!
Our guests often ask what is the best route to Sablet …..
There are several ways to get to Provence (Sablet, in particular) – Airplane to Marseille and drive to Sablet, Airplane to Nice and drive to Sablet, Airplane to Paris and drive to Sablet …. but ….. our favorite route is Airplane to Paris …. TGV to Avignon, then drive to Sablet. It is probably also the most efficient way to get there, as well as, believe it or not, a more relaxed entree to your Provencal vacation – albeit at 280 kilometers or 174 miles per hour!
I love getting on board at Charles de Gaulle Airport TGV Station after a long flight and settling in to a comfortable seat. Watching as the train starts and travels at a more leisurely pace through the suburban stations, past the tall Parisian buildings and whizzing out through the countryside.
As we get going the appropriate announcements take place, it’s time to visit the restaurant carriage before it gets too crowded. Mustn’t forget to leave the ticket in the seat pocket so the conductors can check it as they come by. The food, drinks and snacks on the TGV are pretty good – they have quite a variety that includes sandwiches, hot foods, chips, cookies and cake as well as tea, coffee, water – both still and sparkling – (Plate* and Gazeuse), juices, some soft drinks and wine. This is usually the afternoon train, so let’s settle in with a cup of tea and a snack cake – time to relax – we’re going to Provence.
As we progress on our journey, not long in time but nevertheless speeding south, the style of the houses and buildings change from the white walled, dark steep roofed homes in the north and central provinces, to the simpler, warmer styles in earth tones which are characteristic of the south, with their ochre toned tile roofs.
Before you know it, we’re whizzing across the Rhone River for the first time – about 10 minutes out of Avignon. Time to get all the luggage and head down to the exit area for Arrival. As we pull into Avignon TGV Station – it’s like an old friend, and it’s nice to be back………..
A few practical hints for traveling in France via the TGV
> Book your tickets in the US or your country of origin, before you head out – it is much less expensive. In the US, www.Rail Europe.com is a very helpful website. You can use the interactive map, especially helpful if you plan to travel within Europe by train. You can book tickets a that site up to two months in advance, but don’t leave it too late as they mail your tickets to you in the US or your home country.
> Be sure to check out the Rail Passes, as they can save you quite a lot of money.
> To prepare for your TGV trip – please look at the pictures below – they will help you understand the system, especially if you are a first time TGV passenger.
1. Look for your Train Number and Platform Number.
2. Check your Carriage Number and locate it on the diagram of the train.
Check the lighted sign board for your train. It shows:
A. The destination of the train above the diagram;
in this case the final destination of the train is Lille, Flanders;
B. The numbers are of each Carriage on the train. eg. 01, 02, 03 etc.;
C. Below the diagram of the train, you will see a series of Letters, eg. T, W etc.
These numbers correspond to the position on the platform
that you should wait, so you will be near to the door closest to your seat, when the train arrives at the station.
3. Find the Platform Position Letter that matches your Carriage Number.
4. Validate your ticket at one of the Yellow Stands before you go to the Platform
5. “X” marks the spot! Find the correct Letter for your carraige….. the train will soon arrive.
6. Once Aboard and at your seat …. One of the conductors will come by to check your ticket – have it ready, or if you leave your seat to go to the Restaurant Carriage, leave it in the seat pocket.
If you would like to take a short early Sunday Morning TGV ride from Avignon to Paris ……. let’s go……..
Bon Voyage and Bonnes Vacances!
*Plate – Pronounced “plat”
Late Addition: I have always said that we have the “Best and Smartest” guests! It has been proven again – I just heard from one of our guests that Rail Europe now has an E Ticket option, so you can book tickets at the last minute and download them at home. Also, they tell me that these tickets do not need to be validated at the Station – there’s one less step needed!
Please Note however, that this method can be used if you are purchasing Tickets only – it appears that if you are purchasing a Rail Pass of any kind, it still needs to be done ahead of time, as they are still mailed to you at your home address.
Dave – Thanks so much for the update!