To the North

26 May

I woke up early this morning a 3:30 AM with the intention to go northerly by train.

Marseille

Marseille (Photo credit: -eko-)

The Calanque of Sugiton in the 9th arrondissem...

The Calanque of Sugiton in the 9th arrondissement of Marseille (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Entrance of the Paris gare de Lyon station

Entrance of the Paris gare de Lyon station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: TGV hall of the "Gare de Lyon&qu...

English: TGV hall of the “Gare de Lyon” railway station, Paris, France. Français : Hall TGV de la gare de Lyon, Paris, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gare de Lyon, Paris, France

Gare de Lyon, Paris, France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though it is useless to stipulate your direction when you plan to leave the southern suburbs of Marseille because the only one direction that is possible to take is precisely the North since the South and the West are occupied by the Mediterranean sea and the bay of Marseille and the East is blocked by the Calanques which are as you may not know, a desert of rocks absolutely deprived of any road, not to mention railway.

So as I said, I woke up early to go to the North by train and more accurately by TGV a.k.a. Train à Grande Vitesse (which can be translated in High Speed Train).
The TGV represents in France the equivalent of what the plane represents in the USA: the easiest way to travel across the country; be it fo visiting family or for work. This early morning of May the 22nd my destination was a professional meeting in the northern suburb of Paris called “La plaine Saint Denis”. For that purpose I stepped down in the subway station Rond Point du Prado at 5:00 AM precisely in the southern suburb of Marseille. A moment later, comfortably seated in a TGV first class wagon I was glazing at a screen indicating the speed: the numbers oscillated between 260 and 301 kilometres per hour (i.e. 161 and 187 miles per hour). 3 hours and 20 minutes later after my departure I stood on the pier of the railways station called “Gare de Lyon” which, as its name does not indicate, is precisely located in Paris (French are not always logical persons). Like Marseille’s ones, the railways stations of Paris are in dead ends (trains have to go back to were they come from). But for different reasons: Marseille is at an extremity of the land route while Paris is the rail network centre. After a chat with my colleagues and a lunch I am now on my way home, coming back, crossing at 300 kilometres per hour speed the green landscape of France. If all goes well I would enjoy the diner in my place of abode next my beloved wife in Marseille around half past eight.

So it is not an exaggeration to say that, with the TGV, Paris nears Marseille more than it has ever done before. Indeed I have made the journey Marseille Paris and back in less than 15 hours, this time including a working session and a lunch. Never the less, despite this miracle of the technology, why have I the fuzzy feeling of having just wasting my time? Would it be because the wisdom teaches us that “the goal is the way”? ; For sure, 300 kilometres per hour might be a speed too high to enjoy mindfully the way.

2 Responses to “To the North”

  1. Janice Flahiff May 29, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Very envious, wish we had such nice high speed trains here in Ohio, USA.
    Presently no strong (or even weak!) consensus….

    • Ha-Vinh May 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      The French TGV builder is Alstom, and indeed it is a reliable technology. No damage in term of human life since the TGV are in function. I have just discovered that the USA built a high speed train linking Washington to Boston at 150 mph (240 km/h) here:
      http://www.trainweb.org/tgvpages/acela.html
      Thank for your comment

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