The first TGV from Paris to Barcelona will depart on the 15th of December! It was officially announced yesterday by François Hollande and Mariano Rajoy (if like us, you also have difficulties pronouncing "Rajoy", take a look here).
Now it may not seem like a big deal at first, but this is a pretty big event for the rail industry in Europe. This has been a project for over 20 years, involving the construction of many new train stations and high-speed rail tracks.
The two largest high-speed rail operators in Europe, SNCF and Renfe, are now truly connected. A total of 17 cities will be served by four main connections:
- Paris - Barcelona (6.25 hours)
- Lyon - Barcelona (4.53 hours)
- Toulouse - Barcelona (3.02 hours)
- Marseille - Barcelona - Madrid (4.17 and 7.03 hours)
Parisians will gain an additional 20 minutes on the current route (this is the time it used take to change trains in Figueres). It is also a major step forward for Toulousains and Marseillais. As for those Lyon, this is now the second connection available as there is already an existing connection with iDBUS which takes 8.5 hours for a one-way journey and for only €9.
Also, it is possible to travel on these French and Spanish routes without crossing the border. For instance you may take a Renfe train from Paris to Nimes.
As of December 3rd, you can purchase tickets for up to three months in advance. The fares are identical on both sides of the border, as the prices are determined by the joint venture of Renfe-SNCF:
- Paris - Barcelona starting from €59
- Lyon - Barcelona starting from €49
- Toulouse - Barcelona starting from €39
- Marseille - Madrid starting from €89
And finally, the journey from Paris to Barcelona will be aboard a TGV Duplex whilst on all other routes you will travel on the AVE S-100, the Spanish luxury train (quick hidden camera tour).