I still remember going to France by train when I was 13. We had an exchange program with a city near Paris. To sum it up: It was awful. Anyway, I decided to give the French trains another chance. This time with the TGV, the best that France has to offer. Even though I did only travel from Stuttgart to Munich, I got a good impression of how comfortable a journey with this train is.
In my introduction to our train review section, I already explained why I am more or less travelling first class only when boarding a train. This time, I had kind of a weird ticket that allowed me access to the ICE First Class (German train) and the TGV First Class (French train). On my way to Stuttgart, I took the ICE (I’ll review that train later on), on the way back I went for the TGV. Sadly, the special service offered in this train – a free meal – is only available when travelling in France. Due to that, I can only focus on all other services provided in the TGV train.
Kind of shabby seats in the TGV
When I boarded the duplex TGV, the first class was surprisingly stacked (in the German ICE it’s empty most times). I did not get a suitable seat (I’m very likely to a free seat next to me when travelling alone) in the upper deck and decided to have a look on the lower deck (I’m travelling this route several times a year, so there is nothing interesting for me to see).
I found a seat that looked good and was not in a too noisy location (no kids around at the first place). My first impression was not really good. Even though there was lots of leg room and enough space in the width, I felt like the seat was really outworn. It was made of textile – not leather – and looked like it hasn’t been changed for years. Nevertheless, the seat was comfortable.
The TGV offers French culture included
After having taken my seat, I was interested in chilling a little bit and decided to read a magazine for a moment. It just took five minutes to regret my choice of seating. The person behind me watched a French movie on his iPad in full volume (seriously, who the hell does something like this in a train?!). But that, sadly, was not everything.
The person on the other side of my row was starting to eat a croissant in a decent volume and spread marmalade all over the place (I mean, I like France but what the hell was wrong with this train?). To make my “first impression” perfect, the guys behind me decided to gather all around me to start chatting. They even took the free seat next to me with two people (and took a little part of mine as well) and started chatting in Arabic. The volume once again was “a little high”. What a start.
Let’s have some haute cuisine in the train
For me, it was time to leave after half an hour. I had no headphones with me and my mobile was low on energy, so I decided to run around a bit in the train. When arriving in the restaurant, it was even noisier due to the football fans partying and jumping around (dear god, why are you making my day that shitty?). I decided to buy a sandwich and to leave again. It was around four euros and did look like it was worth 50 cent. The taste was okay though but nothing special at all. The prices seemed to be even higher than in the German ICE, the quality is on the same level in my opinion.
Afterwards, I decided to work for another hour, still annoyed by the guys chatting next to me. About ten minutes before we finally arrived in Munich, they stopped and I had some time to rest and think about my experience in the TGV. As the train arrived a little late, I even had to hurry to get my connection train. After I boarded, I decided that I’ll go for the ICE train next time again. The TGV may be fast but neither the comfort nor the atmosphere (you’ll mostly meet business man who are calm in the ICE first class) are as good as in the German “king of the rail”. If you got the choice, I’ll recommend to go for the ICE (or a plane).