France Launches New High-speed Trains

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On December 11, SNCF, the French national rail service, introduced its newly designed high-speed TGV, L'Océane, linking Paris-Montparnasse station with southwestern France. The highly anticipated trains will make the journey from Paris to Bordeaux in about two hours, reducing the trip by a full hour, and to Toulouse in just over four hours, instead of the current five and a half. The trains can travel at speeds up to 320 km per hour (200 miles per hour).

The first two trains to be introduced—with colorful exterior designs by street artists Epis One and Mondé—will service the Toulouse and the Bordeaux regions, with 17 more trains scheduled to launch for the opening of a high-speed rail line between Tours and Bordeaux, on July 2, 2017. SNCF plans to deploy 40 of the new trains by November 2019.

The high-tech trains offer superior connectivity and amenities compared with the TGVs now in use. L'Océane's sleekly designed “haute-couture” interiors are the rail service's most spacious and comfortable to date. Each car features high-quality materials, such as wood and leather, in chic colors with sophisticated interior lighting to promote a “pleasant and practical” environment for those working on their journey as well as leisure travelers.

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Passengers in second class will have wider reclining seats, individual electricity outlets and USB ports for charging smartphones, and larger seat-back tables to better accommodate laptops. As of July 2017, all passengers will enjoy free Wi-fi, which is now offered only in first-class carriages.

A revolutionary new design in first class cars allows seats to rotate so passengers can always face in the direction of travel. First class also offers spacious retractable shelving, under-seat luggage storage, and individual reading lights.

Handsome dining cars feature wood detailing and long tables for face-to-face seating.

L'Océan was awarded the Janus Award for design.

PLAN YOUR TRIP on the new trains with Fodor’s France Guide