French train services have been disrupted again this week as the CGT labour union has asked workers to strike over plans to reform the country’s pension system. The union has called for protests and work stoppages as President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government prepares to legislate on pension reforms.
Rail and other public services in France have faced such disruption on various occasions throughout 2013 and a settlement in the near future appears unlikely. However, rail still offers the visitor to France a generally fast, clean and efficient method of travelling within the country and also from France to other countries.
The pride of the French railway service is the TGV or Train à Grande Vitesse. TGVs run at up to 186 mph (300 km/h) on a network linking towns and cities across much of France. Smooth and quiet even at high speed, the TGV makes a very relaxing way to travel across France. Some TGVs are single deck, but an increasing number are double-deck, known as TGV Duplex. These impressive trains now operate most Paris-Cannes-Nice trains, most Paris-Lyon trains, and many Paris-Marseille trains, as well as some of the services between Paris and Basel, Zurich, Geneva, Stuttgart, Munich & Frankfurt.
The cities of Paris and Nice make an ideal combination for a twin centre city break, linked by a rail journey between the cities. Many visitors enjoy combining a few days in the romantic but busy and bustling French capital with the slower paced charm of Nice on the French Riviera. The journey from Paris Gare de Lyon to Nice Ville by high speed TGV can take as little as 5 hours 40 minutes. Direct trains run between Paris and Nice throughout the day, 7 days a week. A seat on the top deck of a Duplex TGV will afford some wonderful views as you approach the Cote d’Azur.
Paris needs no introduction to most visitors. The EiffelTower must be one of the most recognised images in the world, with the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur following close behind. Many visitors like to head to the Place de Tertre in Montmartre to enjoy a coffee in one of the animated cafés in this quarter frequented at one time by many famous artists including Monet, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.
After a stay in Paris, many tourists enjoy just wandering around the centre of Nice, enjoying the blue waters of the Mediterranean, diverse shopping, splendid dining and lovely art-deco façades. The city also has a number of must-see tourist spots, such as the Cours Saleya Flower Market, the MatisseMuseum, ancient Roman ruins, the Russian Cathedral and many more. For those who like to venture further afield, an excursion by rail to Monte-Carlo is also an attractive option. The message has to be – don’t let the strikes put you off. Rail travel in France is generally a great experience.