One hack to streamline train travel on your holiday
MY TRAIN experiences in France on the TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse, which means "very fast train") have all been excellent.
I've had the good fortune not to encounter a train strike. I have also been blessed never to have experienced a train running late. (But both do happen occasionally, unfortunately.)
While train travel is simple and restful, getting in the right carriage is not. Unless you know what to do. Fortunately, I am here to tell you, even though you have not asked me to do so.
The TGVs are long and sleek and efficient and fast, and they stop at the station for just a few minutes.
You, along with about 50 others all carrying big suitcases, have mere minutes to find your carriage, get on and then locate your seat.
When you know how, it is effortless. When you don't - oh, big stress. Your ticket - wisely bought in Australia from Rail Europe before you leave - will have the train, carriage and seat number on it. Memorising the train number is the first step, and key, to getting it right.
When you are at the TGV station waiting for your train to arrive, you must check the electronic board in departures, and wait for your train number to come up (usually about 10 minutes before it is due to arrive). At most stations, there is another small board with a cute picture of a train on it with the carriage numbers marked by an alphabet letter.
Check your carriage number against the alphabet letter and then, on the platform, look for the letter either painted on the edge of the platform or hung above.
If you stand on that exact spot, the train will pull up with your correct carriage right at your feet.
On you get with your big case, load it into the racks just inside the door, and by this time the train has glided smoothly out of the station and is now doing about 300km an hour with glorious lavender and happy sunflower fields flashing by. You find your seat, sit down, relax.
Simple, no? But if you don't do this, you could end up in a carriage far removed from yours, all the seats full and you in a narrow aisle with an enormous case to wheel the length of the long (very long) train, annoying all those passengers already sitting smugly in their seats with a baguette and glass of wine in hand.
I can't count the number of people I have seen struggling up and down the aisle with a big case and a bewildered air looking hopelessly lost because they didn't check their carriage number and stand on the right spot on the platform.
Yes, you learn so much from me. But the kind and informative people at Rail Europe will help you even more when you book your tickets here.