Moi, j’y vais en TGV

It’s funny the things you remember from school. The title of this blogpost is the first line in a song about the French rail network (well, specifically, a journey from Paris to Geneva) – until I googled it, I could only remember the first two lines:
Moi, j’y vais en TGV
J’ai mon billet, faut le composter

If your French is lacking, all you need to know is that it’s a curiously informative song from the classic French textbook Tricolore – beloved of most British secondary schools. The singer is delighted to be travelling on a TGV; they have their ticket; and they have had it checked by a machine on the platform. If you’d like to sing the whole delightful tale, simply follow this link… [Tricolore did a good line in educational songs – such as ‘une, deux, trois – salut, c’est moi; quatre, cinq, six – j’abite à Nice…’ Catchy, non? To be honest, I was always jealous of top-set French – they got to learn French Celine Dion songs.]

That TGV song had taught me practically everything I knew about travel on the French rail network, prior to my inaugural journey from Paris to Limoges en route to Chateau Duffy III. It wasn’t hugely helpful, largely owing to the fact that the character in Tricolore who travelled from Paris to Geneva didn’t have a 1st Class ticket…

Oh yes, this was European train travel in style – kinda. I’d passed on responsibility of ticket buying to my travel companion, which turned out to be an excellent move as they noticed that 1st Class was only a little more pricey than standard. [To clarify, on Eurostar there’s actually two divisions of 1st – Business and ‘Standard Premiere’ – we had the latter.]

What they’d also manage to do was forget to tell me of this purchasing achievement. (Though, to be fair, I had a copy of the email so if I’d read it properly, I might have known.) This meant that I managed to look a little bit of a twit once on board the Eurostar as I gazed around in awe and wonder wondering why it looked so different than on my previous three trips. I then immediately began to wonder what the complimentary breakfast would be like.

Eurostar BreakfastBreakfast. Rather nice actually. Passengers had a choice of pain au chocolat or apple – who would choose fruit over pastry??

Because we are actually both idiots, neither of us realised that we’d also be in 1st on our SNCF TGV service from Paris Austerlitz to Limoges Benedict. Rather sheepishly, we climbed into our 1st class carriage leaving three Texan friends to enjoy standard further down the train. (Fear not, we had our come-uppance – our seats faced backwards meaning that travel nausea was inevitable.)

Ever wondered what an SNCF 1st class carriage looks like? It’s a bit like this:

Ok, so not that exciting. Also, there didn’t seem to be the freebies you’d usually get on a British train – we weren’t offered anything, but there may have been a French system we were unaware of. Certainly, train gin & tonics were not forthcoming. However, the seats had an array of features that could be played with, which kept one amused for all of ten minutes – they reclined, had foot rests, tables, bins, plug sockets, magazine racks and, most importantly, a beverage holder.

Brilliantly, because we’re really that idiotic, we didn’t realise that our return leg was 1st class until we boarded the train back to Paris. It turns out that evening Eurostar journeys are even more exciting than early morning ones – there’s booze…

Only downside is that all meals are served cold.

 Not only is there booze, but there is a decent choice. We were offered white, red or rosé  – but choose red (as my neighbour did) and you then get further choices. Wonderful. Oh, and the seats reclined beautifully too and were wonderful for napping in – I know this because I napped all the way home once I’d finished playing with my food.

One thing’s for sure, the Vicar School jaunt to Lille on board Eurostar in November is going to be very tame in comparison.