THINK FAST, THINK FRANCE IN 2008; SEE MORE OF FRANCE IN LESS TIME

French trains, particularly the sleek TGVs*, have been a convenient and comfortable way to travel in France for over 25 years and are a “must- have” experience for the often air-centric, yet eco- friendly North American traveler. Independent research for Eurostar shows that on the Paris to London route a train emits 10 times less CO2 than a plane.

With the launch of the TGV Est (East) in the summer of 2007, France is once again at the forefront of rail travel. This new train line cuts travel time almost by half between Paris and the eastern regions of France, for example Paris to Strasbourg now takes only 2h 20min, whereas previously this journey took 4 hours. The frequency of train services along these routes has increased by as much as 20%, making it easier to see more of France in less time. For example, there are now 17 daily departures from Paris to Strasbourg.

Eurostar is even faster with the launch of high-speed tracks (HS1) in the UK, which cut travel times from Paris to London by 20 minutes with a new journey time of 2h 15min. In addition to being committed to faster journey times, Eurostar is equally committed to the environment and has set a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 25% per passenger journey by 2012. Beginning November 14, 2007 all journeys are carbon neutral. Eurostar is now operating out of it’s new central London home, St. Pancras International Station, which is a destination unto itself, boasting upscale shopping and Europe’s longest champagne bar.

Rail Europe is the White Plains, NY-based subsidiary of SNCF (French National Railroads). The company offers the widest range of point-to-point rail tickets (including economically priced advance purchase tickets). Rail Europe is the exclusive distributor of the France Railpass and related travel products; these can be used for individual or group travel in France and throughout Europe and the U.K.

The company’s website, www.raileurope.com offers a user-friendly booking engine, helpful rail trip planning information, online rail pass finder, virtual rail tours, interactive rail maps and much more. You can buy everything you need before you go, thus guaranteeing your travel on the train of your choice. Many of the rail products sold by Rail Europe cannot be purchased in Europe.

RAIL EUROPE’S FRENCH TRAVEL PRODUCTS:

France Railpasses – If you are planning on traveling to three or more places in France, a France Railpass is substantially cheaper than buying individual point-to-point tickets. Qualify for even lower prices** on a France Railpass if you are traveling with one or more companions, or if you are a senior (60+) or a youth (under 26). Add to your savings by booking online on www.raileurope.com and take advantage of Rail Europe’s web-only fares which will further reduce your total cost by as much as 10%.

– France Railpass – 3 days of unlimited rail travel within 1 month, from $258 (2nd class), $304 (1st class);

– France Saverpass – 3 days of unlimited rail travel within 1 month, for 2 or more traveling together, from $222 (2nd class), $259 (1st class) per person;

– France Senior Pass – 3 days of unlimited rail travel within 1 month from $ 278 (1st class only);

– France Youth Pass – 3 days of unlimited rail travel within 1 month from $191 (2nd class) or $225 (1st class );

– France Rail ‘n Drive – Rail Europe’s France Rail ‘n Drive provides 2 rail days and 2 car rental days using 1st class rail and a choice of car categories, from $336 for 1 adult (economy car). Additional rail days, car days and car categories are available.

Note: rail travel days do not have to be consecutive.

Extras and bonuses for France Railpass & France Rail ‘n Drive:

– Discounted passholder fares are available on high-speed trains such as Eurostar, Thalys, Artesia Day and Night, Elipsos, Paris-German Night, France-Geneva TGV, France-Switzerland TGV, Bruxelles-France TGV and Geneva Med TGV. Reservations on these trains are mandatory.

– 10-20% discount on various Accor Group hotels, such as Mercure and Sofitel.

– 20% discount on the Strasbourg Pass (www.ot-strasbourg.fr), Nancy City Pass (www.ot-nancy.fr), Discovery Pass in Dijon (www.dijon-tourism.com) and admission to the national monuments, such as Arc de Triomphe, Mont-Saint-Michel, La Chapelle, etc (www.monum.fr).

Rail Europe’s tour products:

Besides train tickets, railpasses and Rail ‘n Drives, Rail Europe also offers North American travelers tour products, such as:

– Paris Visite – unlimited use of Paris metros/buses and RER /SNCF trains in greater Paris region, from $30;

– Paris Museum Pass – entrance to 70 museums/monuments plus free or priority admission to permanent collections, the pass is valid for 2 days, from $52;

– Wine tasting mini-classes in Paris – learn more about wine from a French sommelier — choose from “Wine Two Three” (tasting 3 wines) or go for 5 wines with “Wine & Cheese Tasting Lunch” or “Grand 7” (seven wines), from $30;

– Paris Dinner Cruise – glass-sided boats with panoramic views and live music with dinner, from $159;

Ideas for Day Trips from Paris:

Eurostar – When in Paris, why not get a little London! Receive a special fare on Eurostar tickets to London, from $105 standard (2nd) class for a day trip return ticket;

Thalys – Day trips from Paris to cities in neighboring countries are easy when you take the Thalys. The red train connects Paris to Brussels (in under 90 minutes) Cologne, Düsseldorf and Amsterdam, from $78;

A day of gourmet indulgence in Tours – just 1 hour from Paris Montparnasse station, the city of Tours offers visitors a wide selection of restaurants gastronomique offering culinary works of art by masterful chefs. Paris/Tours train tickets from $56;

Chateaux, helicopters and wine await you at your Loire Valley Chateau. Step back in time with a stay at one of the area’s finest, just outside the city of Tours. Spend the night and return to the hustle and bustle of Paris the next day. Paris/Tours train tickets from $56;