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New routes for the world's fastest trains.

Every day the fastest trains in the world ride the rails from Paris to Brittany and the Atlantic coast. Reaching 186 miles an hour-and capable of going 320-these TGVs (trains a grande vitesse) can take travelers from Montparnasse station, in the center of the city, 130 miles southwest to Le Mans in less than an hour, and to nearly a dozen other cities in similarly astounding times. In late September, a new route to Bordeaux and the Spanish border opened; trains reach Tours, the main city of the Loire Valley, in about an hour. A short trip on a TGV gives a taste of what it's like to fly on land; if you're visiting Paris and planning to go to Brittany or the lower Loire Valley, consider using a train to get closer to your destination without spending hours in frenetic traffic. Or take TGVs to make day trips well beyond the outskirts of Paris. A flying ride on the TGV TGVs on Le Mans and Tours routes are about twice as fast as the "express" trains that make those runs, and travel time in many instances makes them competitive with airplanes. The ride is smooth enough for reading or writing, though watching the passing countryside filled most of the trip we made to Le Mans. For some stretches, the train runs below grade, and leaving Paris it goes through several tunnels, which can cause ears to pop as surely as if the train were taking off into the sky. Seats, even in second class, are very comfortable, with pull-out footrests. Luggage space is overhead and at the ends of the cars. In second class and on short trips, food (surprisingly good fresh salads and hot dishes) is served from a bar to take back to your seat. A salad with pate or cheese, fresh bread, and wine or mineral water costs the equivalent of $8 to $10 US. In first class, stewards serve you restaurant-style at your seat; choose from a varied menu of light, mainly grilled foods, which you can order in advance. Prices average about $25. To travel on the TGV, you buy a regular train ticket and pay a supplement that varies depending on class of travel and the time of day: in second class the supplement ranges from as little as $6 for off-peak times to about $15 for peak times and holidays; in first class it ranges from $7.50 to $24. A midweek off-peak round trip from Paris to Le Mans costs about $48 per person second class. From Paris to Tours, second-class one-way fares run about $32 to $40. Future routes will connect Paris to Brussels, Amsterdam, and London (1993). By 1994, a route between Paris's two main airports will allow connections to other TGV routes without going into the city. For more details and an update on routes, call your travel agent, who can also book tickets (TGV supplements are waived if you buy in the U.S.). Or buy them at Gare Montparnasse in Paris. English-speaking guides at the information kiosk on the platform level (Hall grandes lignes) can direct you to ticket counters.
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Title Annotation:from Paris to Brittany and the Atlantic coast
Publication:Sunset
Date:Dec 1, 1990
Words:524
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