Saturday, September 20, 2014

Praise for the TGV and efficiency à la française

One of the great things about France (about which there are many great things, even if the French don’t always admit it) is that it sits on two climate zones. You can be sitting up north in Paris staring at clouds and then get on a train, and in the time it takes some poor commuter to drive into the centre of the city from an outlying suburb, you’re sitting by the Mediterranean wondering which rosé to order.
Thus writes Stephen Clarke.
Obviously you can do this by aeroplane from almost anywhere in the world, but then you’d have to add several hours on to your journey to allow for all the queueing. France’s fast trains, the TGVs, zip you down to the south coast so fast you wouldn’t even have time to get into the departure lounge at the airport.
Needless to say, Stephen Clarke does not address the issue of the taxes that pay for France's, or for the world's, high-speed train systems or how this contributes to the poor paying for the well-off. But that will have to wait for another day.
I realize that this is a life of luxury. Being a self-employed writer who has enough money to afford last-minute TGV tickets and a pleasant hotel has definite advantages, but the whole trip cost about the same as, say, a day trip to see Manchester United, or a C-list celebrity’s left shoe. And France is a place where you get value for money for all things luxurious.

Two days to proofread a book, when you’ve also been able to snorkel and enjoy two excellent and not outrageous meals of fresh local produce, that’s what I call efficiency à la française.