Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The importance of the TGV to French country life!

Welcome to the third post, in this series based around village life in south west France. Today, I want to set aside a little time to share with you my thoughts on the TGV (Train `a Grande Vitesse), or in English, the high speed train. Discussing what a life line it can be for those choosing to relocate to the French countryside. 

When we found and fell in love with the 'old presbytery', I must admit the proximity of our village to a train station on the TGV line was something to which we hadn't given a lot of thought. It was only after signing on the dotted line, as we began to plan our move to France, we realised the TGV station at Angouleme was only 30 minutes away. Simply, a stroke of luck!

And so it transpired, from the start of our French adventure, that the station at Angouleme would play a major role in our new life. It began one dark rainy night in November, when at 9pm precisely (as the TGV is almost always on time), we stumbled onto the platform, blinking through the station lights to a whole new world that awaited us. Little did we know that evening, this same platform would set the scene for so many happy encounters through the coming years. There would be hugs and kisses as a steady stream of loved ones emerged through the crowds to greet us on their regular visits, not to mention our own occasional trips to Paris. On these rare, but none the less exciting trips, my husband and I would exchange our country life for the bright lights of Paris. You can read about one of these trips, if you would be interested, in my post entitled,  'Stepping Out Of My Empty Nest, Into The Lights Of Paris', written back in September 2012.

The train station also holds another happy memory for me, as it was the destination for my first solo car trip in France. Driving  into the city to collect my daughter from the train, I remember the feeling of achievement as I set out from our village. Here I was in a foreign land, driving on the opposite side of the road, in a car with a gear stick on the right, while negotiating round-a-bouts and underground tunnels. Arriving at the station, as I chatted to the car park attendant in French, I got such a buzz; here I was at last living in a foreign land and feeling at home. Picking my daughter up from the train, we sped home through the French countryside and I could tell, she too, was proud of her mum!

The TGV is 30 years old now and provides France with a fast, clean and efficient service, cutting down travel time between major cities dramatically, as it reaches speeds of up 200 miles an hour, with an excellent safety record. French citizens and expats alike can enjoy connections all over France and across Europe with journeys like Paris to Marseille only taking 3 hours and 5 minutes. I have included a map here showing current lines and both new and imminent ones. You will note that LGV refers to 'ligne `a grande vitesse' or high speed lines. Perhaps food for thought when you are planning your next trip to France or looking to relocate to the French countryside.

To conclude this post, I would suggest to any of you out there thinking about choosing a place to live in the France, bear in mind the importance of being near a branch of the TGV.  There are still areas of central France where the TGV doesn't operate and it can add to a feeling of isolation, but then again, perhaps that's just what you're looking for!

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