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High Speed Land Travel [Secret Life of an Expat]

It’s school vacation time in France, probably in a lot of places, and I’m on the top level of a high speed train careening south at 280 km per hour. That’s 173 miles per hour, by the way.

At first it totally blew my mind that you could do an eight hour drive in four on the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse). And even though the TGV, as of mid-2011, was the fastest conventional train operating in the world, I’ve become almost as jaded as the French people around me while riding. Though I admit that I am still impressed by the sucking whoomp sound that occurs when another high-speed train whizzes by in the opposite direction.

When I lived in New York, I took the Amtrak to Boston from time to time, but before South Station was rebuilt, it was a lot easier to take the bus all the way to Maine. First you took the Peter Pan Boston Express, where they’d sometimes play a Kung Fu movie with the sound piped over the PA system, and then onto Concord Trailways, a small bus line with service in northern New England, where the bus drivers have magnificent accents that make you feel like you’re home, even if nobody in your family actually speaks that way.

The only time I tried the Acela, a supposedly high speed train run by Amtrak, through the north east corridor, it was a total disaster. We were delayed six hours on the tracks, tracks that were shared by the low-speed trains. By the time we got to South Station, it was 1:00 am, and closed, and my parents had to drive 2 hours to come pick me up. In my opinion, that would never happen in Europe. But that was nearly 10 years ago, so maybe things have changed.

Anyway, on our Easter vacation visit to a windy Mediterranean coast, M and I set up the camera to take 1 shot every 30 seconds. This video is the result, a high speed somewhat random photo essay of the French landscape between Paris and Saint Tropez. Enjoy.

Saint Tropez from Gudrun Cram-Drach on Vimeo.