Yes, this is possible and welcomed news! Those traveling from Paris to Barcelona have always had the option of taking a high-speed train, but it had one serious drawback. Due to the fact that France and Spain use different rolling stock, you had the inconvenience of having to change trains near the border between the two countries. With the construction of a new high-speed rail line that links the two cities directly, that problem has been eliminated…no change of trains is necessary.
The trains clip along at a speed of about 200 mph (320 kph ), enough to get you there in a hurry but slow enough to see quaint French villages with the majestic Alps in the background and then, on the final leg, the beautiful Mediterranean coastline of Spain. For a better view, try a seat on the upper deck (these are bi-level carriages).
The Paris-Barcelona trains run from Gare de Lyon station, one of five stations in Paris.
By happy coincidence one of our favorite lunch spots in Paris just happens to be in a train station: Train Bleu Restaurant inside Gare du Lyon. Sit down, have lunch from the set menu (which includes a half-bottle of red) and then at train time you just walk a few yards (meters) directly on to the train.
There are currently two trains each day, with a travel time of approximately 6 and a half hours from Paris to Barcelona making several stops in France and a couple in Spain. In March 2014 that will be increased to four trains per day.
For British travelers this new service will also allow you to take the Eurostar to Paris, change stations and then catch the train to Barcelona. So it is possible to have breakfast in London, lunch in Paris and dinner in Barcelona. What a convenience and a great entry for your travel journal!
Those of you coming from the UK might also want to check out Loco 2. This booking website gets great reviews.
We are big believers in train travel in Europe. First, the romance of train travel is hard to resist, especially since air travel has long since lost any semblance of romance and the wait to check in can often be longer than the flight itself. Also, since most train stations are located downtown, you avoid a long (and often expensive) trip from the airport to the city.
Most importantly, you can actually see the countryside and its people rather than looking down from 30,000 feet.
You can get up, walk to the snack or restaurant car, and socialize with others. This is the beauty of train travel, it’s definitely more rewarding than just the utilitarian need to get from one place to the other.
So, sit back, relax, meet new friends….whatever. That’s probably the whole reason you’re traveling in the first place.
For a more in-depth look at train travel in Europe we recommend the website called the Man in Seat 61.