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20 September 2009

Forget the Plane - go by Train!

We have just returned from a week's river cruise on the Saone and Rhone in the south of France. We started and finished in Lyon. The vacation package included first class train travel to and from the cruise ship. We made our own arrangements to get to London from York, using National Express Trains. After an overnight stay in London, we boarded the Eurostar at the beautiful new St Pancras International train station, and that took us via the Channel Tunnel to Lille in northern France.

At Lille we changed to a French double-decker TGV that whisked us comfortably down to the south of France at speeds approaching 200 mph. A short transfer by coach from the station to the cruise ship moorings and we were on board the Princesse de Provence by tea time.

After a week's cruising these beatiful rivers, visiting Tournus, Chalon-sur-Saone, Macon, Trevoux, Avignon, and Vienne, taking in the 2000-year old Roman Aqueduct Pont du Gard, and the vineyards of Beaujolais and Chateau-neuf-du-Pape we returned to North Yorkshire by the same route. We left the south of France at 10.40 a.m. and were back in Northern England within seven and a half hours. The journey was smooth, fast and comfortable, with fast check-in, passport control and security checks on the Eurostar leg of the journey.

You would be hard put to beat these times travelling by plane, with which you have all the usual long check-in times, general airport nightmares, and travel to and from airports. You avoid all this by train and, moreover, you actually see something on the journey.

Unless you have to cross a vast ocean to get where you are going, forget the plane - go by train.

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