Europe got a little bit smaller with the introduction of high-speed rail service between Barcelona and Paris last December - an option that Rail Europe is now promoting to international markets.
Yesterday morning, the rail product distributor hosted travel partners to officially introduce the relatively new option, which connects the two cities in just over six hours.
The joint venture serves 21 cities - 16 in France and six in Spain - with several stops along the way.
On their way to France, passengers can choose to travel toward southwest France via Toulouse, or toward the Riviera via Nimes, or toward Lyon, Italy, Switzerland or Germany via Valence, explained Sonia Courrier, marketing and sales with Elipsos Internacional. Similar options are available en route to Spain, as passengers may choose to travel toward Madrid or Valencia via Barcelona.
It's thanks to this evolving network that Europe is shrinking, according to Frédéric Langlois, president and CEO of Rail Europe.
Not only that, he pointed out, but it's an experience to see a destination via rail.
"At 30,000 feet, you can enjoy the clouds and that's it," he said. "But by train, it's a different story. You enjoy the landscapes, you can speak with your neighbours and you can travel with the locals."
In addition, service goes from city centre to city centre, Langlois reminded, which often means less hassle and more time to enjoy a destination.
Frequencies also allow for travellers to do day trips from any point of service, so the option is available for travellers to explore place-to-place without having to haul luggage around each time.
Travel times and schedules for the new service are as follows:- Paris – Barcelona (two to four daily roundtrips): 6h15m- Lyon – Barcelona (one daily roundtrip): 4h58m- Toulouse – Barcelona (one daily roundtrip): 3h07m- Marseille – Madrid (one daily roundtrip): 7h39m
Bookings can be made up to 120 days in advance, and both Langlois and Courrier recommend travellers book before taking off as a way to secure a seat due to high demand.
For more information, visit agent.raileurope.ca.
Photo: Eric Bacon, regional sales director - Canada, Rail Europe; Sonia Courrier, marketing & sales, Elipsos; Frédéric Langlois, president & CEO, Rail Europe; and Alejandra Vitoria, Elipsos