The TGV (train à grande vitesse, French for “high-speed train”) is the most sophisticated way to travel around France and many places in Europe. The train travels on special tracks and has no crossing gates or intersections with cars or people. It is specially designed for the long-haul trip. Shorter trips use trains that have the usual road crossings etc.
There are no security lines or check points. I got dropped off and walked thirty steps to the train platform. No shoe removal and no probing by a “governmental official.” The ride at 180 miles per hour is smooth and quiet. The train stops at the station for less than 3 minutes – so boarding is quick. Once it takes off the countryside whirls past and a usual 8 hour car trip is reduced to 2 1/2.
The coolest thing about the TGV is it takes you from the center of one city to the center of another. For example try taking the TGV from Paris to London via the Chunnel under the English Channel. In less than 3 hours your train travels from the center of one culture to the center of another. No long rides in from the airport and no luggage problems (you haul your own on the train).
The greatest thrill is standing on the station platform and having and express TGV fly through the at 190 miles per hour just a few feet from you. The sound and the pressure wave are all worth it. Here are a few photos from the Gare de Lyon station in Paris.