On our most recent trip to Europe, we took the train from Paris to Geneva. Flying would also have been an option but there are some good reasons why a train ride might make a better addition to your plans:
- The train stations in Paris, like many European cities, are architectural treasures. They were built in the 1800s and are light airy and ornate. They were built with lofty ceilings not only so that the people waiting for a train would stay dry but, in the days of steam trains, so they would not choke on the smoke. The busiest airport in Paris is Charles de Gaulle. Charles de Gaulle airport is also Europe’s largest airport. De Gaulle was built in a very different era from its train stations. Its construction started in 1966 in an avant-garde style, but now the airport seems dated and dingy while the trains stations still seem grand.
- Flying is obviously quicker for the actual time that you are moving (even the TGV is slower than a plane… barely) but once you count in waiting in security lines or at baggage claim the train can be faster for some trips. This summer with the threat of being grounded by volcanic ash the train might at times be much much faster.
- Trains in most of Europe and certainly in France are fast and quiet. Riding them can be a comfortable experience and you never have to turn off your electronics.
- Seeing France from the air is cool, but riding through the French countryside on a train is also cool. Passing through the small towns makes you want to get off the train and explore… as well you should.
- Because airports are big and noisy they are also farther from town. As you compare the time that it takes for a journey don’t forget to factor the time to get to the airport in your equation. All the major trains stations are closer to your hotel.
- The cost to get to Charles de Gaule from the city center is about 8 euros on the train and more like 40 euros by taxi. It is easy to plan your journey so that your hotel is down the block from the train station which will also have a metro stop. See Paris and then walk to the train station to get out of town.
- Trains pollute less and generate less greenhouse gases. So if you won’t take the train for yourself, do it for the planet.