An Italian Train in FranceNovember 2, 2022 9:27 pm Leave your thoughts
Trenitalia recently started their Frecciarossa 1000 high speed train service from Paris to Milan and I just had to check it out.
In December 2021, Italian operator Trenitalia started regular 7-hour high speed service from Paris to Milan, twice a day in each direction. To better the French SNCF TGV Inoui offering, they are using the beautiful and comfortable 300 km/h train Frecciarossa 1000, the Red Arrow.
Early start to Paris
By the first light of day, I started my first flight with the infamous Boeing 737 Max and it went smoothly.
On the ground in Paris
After the p(l)easant Ryanair flight, I hopped on a 75-minute bus ride into the city. With nothing better to do until train departure time, I had a leisurely 8 km stroll across town. The walk from Porte Maillot to Gare de Lyon, along the Champs-Élysées, Boulevard Rivoli and the Seine River, took a couple of hours and a croissant.
A special activity at the station
At the wonderfully crowded station, I had lunch at the legendary restaurant Le train bleu, because apparently it’s a must for all train fans. It was over the top luxurious, the food was excellent and service was quick, efficient and lighthearted.
To the Alps
The sleek modern train offers a few seating options: Economy, Business, Business Quiet, and First Class. Yours truly occupied a beige leather Business Quiet seat and the ticket included complimentary hot and cold drinks. More snacks and drinks were available at the bar and the cheerful staff spoke English, French and Italian. I enjoyed this internationalism very much.
We hurtled across the provinces at maximum speed until Lyon, before slowing down considerably because of a little obstacle called The French Alps. The views were more or less as to be expected – wide green spaces, idyllic small towns and occasional vertical rocks.
Per Italian regulations, masks were required for the duration of the journey. Only a trio of Arab-looking passengers rebelled against the mandatory fashion. After the fifth invitation to follow the facial dress code, they relented, masked up and joined the rest of us sheep. Curiously, the intercom demanded we change masks every few hours, but the number of mask swappers was not high.
The stealth border crossing was uneventful and you could only realise you’re in Italy by looking at the map. It was dusk anyway and there was nothing much to see.
Around Torino Porta Susa
The train would terminate in Milan at about 10 PM, but that was too late to explore anything and I got off in Turin at 9 PM. The small part of the city I saw was brutalist and quiet. It was still unmistakably Italy, as the ubiquitous columns and the great food confirmed.
Early next morning, I went back to the station and got a ticked for the airport bus, making sure it’s not the Milan Malpensa Airport coach, which starts from the same place. Turin Airport was even more brutal than downtown and might be one of the ugliest airports I’ve seen. Everything about this utilitarian place suggested that it’s just here for the snow sports enthusiasts.
Wrong direction and a long layover
I took a 2000 km detour to London, because it was economical and I didn’t mind the all-day layover at all. I rushed through immigration at Stansted Airport in record time and managed to catch the bus mere seconds before it departed.
The 5 km sunny walk in the heart of Britain was a lot of fun, but a million other people had the same idea and traversing the crowded Saturday streets became a challenge. I took refuge in a restaurant where they served me an XXL Full English, just like the doctor ordered. I saw a brand new Elizabeth Line station, which would open later that month. More photos from that day in London.
So long, and thanks for all the fish
By the end of the day things started to go south. To Gatwick Airport in the south of London. The airport train station was under reconstruction and not very welcoming, but it’s for the greater good, right? And how unusual to see Wizz Air now operating far away from Luton, from longtime easyJet territory Gatwick. The more, the merrier. I also made sure to order some fish and chips before departure.
My late hour flight was delayed because of an inebriated passenger, who tried to continue drinking in the loo, and had to be escorted outside by security. Afterwards, the crew had to check all the cabin luggage, while the annoyed captain Simona promised to kick every troublemaking ass. In the end of the day, it’s good to see authorities take disturbances very seriously, so we can enjoy safe journeys like this one.
This post was written by rado