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French Train Travel Speeds Up in 2007 See More of France in Less Time

New York, NY, February 15, 2007 - French trains, particularly the sleek TGVs*, have been a convenient and comfortable way to travel around France for 25 years and a must-see tourist attraction for automotive-centric North Americans - but in 2007, they will take a leap into the future with the June 10 launch of the TGV Est (East). This new line will cut travel times nearly in half between Paris and eastern regions such as Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine and Alsace, and the frequency of train service within those fascinating regions and between these regions and others in France will increase 15-20%, making it easy to see more in less time.

Late in the year (mid-November), Eurostar will operate even faster between Paris and London - cutting an average of 20 minutes off the already quick 2 hrs 35 min journey, thanks to the completion of the final segment of high-speed track leading into - and under - London.

Rail Europe is the White Plains, NY-based subsidiary of SNCF (French National Railroads). The company offers the widest range of economically-priced point-to-point rail tickets (including advance purchase tickets that can save up to 45%) and is the exclusive distributor of France Rail pass and related tour products used for individual or group travel in France and throughout Europe and the U.K..

The company’s website, www.raileurope.com offers a user-friendly booking engine, helpful rail trip planning information, virtual rail tours, interactive rail maps and much more. You can buy everything you need before you go. Many of the rail products sold by Rail Europe cannot be purchased in Europe.

Rail Europe’s menu of French travel products:

France Rail pass

If you are planning on seeing several places in France, a France Rail pass could save substantially over buying individual point-to-point tickets. You qualify for even lower prices on a France Rail pass if you are traveling with one or more companions, if you’re 60+ or under 26 :

  • France Rail Pass 3-9 days of unlimited rail travel within 1 month, starts at $ 222 (2 nd class), $ 261 (1 st).
  • France Saverpass - for 2 or more traveling together, starts at $191 (2 nd), $223 (1 st) per person.
  • France Senior Pass - 3-9 days starts at $ 238 (1 st only).
  • France Youth Pass - starts at $164 (2 nd) or $194 (1 st).

New for ‘07 extras/bonuses for France Rail Pass

There have always been discounts and other bonuses for France Rail pass holders, but this year several new ones have been added—some of which specifically relate to the new TGV East high-speed rail line:

  • 20% discount on the Strasbourg Pass (www.ot-strasbourg.fr), Nancy City Pass (www.ot-nancy.fr), Discovery Pass in Dijon (www.dijon-tourism.com) and admission to the National Monuments, such as Mont-Saint-Michel, La Chapelle, etc (www.monum.fr)
  • 10-20% discount on various Accor Group hotels, such as Mercure-Sofitel, Mercure-Novotel-Suitehotel and Sofitel (reservations must be made in advance).

France Rail 'n Drive - best way to see the most

Use the efficient French rail system to go quickly and easily between cities and major towns and then a rental car to explore the countryside for vineyards, mountains, chateaux or picnic spots. The combination lets you save money over buying rail tickets and car rental separately, and the big advantage over most other car rental offers is that the car days need not be consecutive.

Rail Europe’s France Rail 'n Drive provides 2 rail days and 2 car rental days using 1 st class rail and any one of 6 different car categories, starting at $325 for 1 adult or $271 per person for two people sharing a car (with economy car). Additional rail and car days and 6 car categories are available.

Discount on Eurostar - see London too!

Holders of a France Rail pass (or other rail pass that includes travel in France) receive a low passholder fare on Eurostar tickets to London, from $81 standard (2 nd) class, $144 1 st class for a one-way ticket. These passholder fares are exchangeable. Comparable non-exchangeable tickets without a pass cost $94 std class, $167 1 st class.

Non-exchangeable, non-refundable low fares on Eurostar are available for a limited number of seats, starting at $101 round trip (to be completed in one day). Eurostar takes just 2 hrs 35 min to travel Paris-London.

Tour products to get the most out of your vacation to France

Besides train tickets, passes and Rail 'n Drive, Rail Europe also offers American travelers to France the following tour products, including several new ones:

  • Paris Visite for unlimited use of Paris metros and buses, as well as RER and SNCF trains in the greater Paris region, starting at $26;
  • Paris Museum Pass for entrance to 70 museums and monuments with no waiting in line plus free or priority admission to permanent collections, starting at $22;
  • NEW Paris Historical Tour - 3 hr 45 min guided tour by motor coach and boat of historic sites in Paris, such as Latin Quarter, Bastille, Pantheon, Notre Dame and many others, starting at $74;
  • NEW Wine tasting mini-classes in Paris - learn about the mysteries of wine from a French sommelier -- choose from “Wine Two Three” (tasting 3 wines) or go for 5 wines with “Wine & Cheese Tasting Lunch” or “Grand 7” (seven wines). A fun and informative way to enjoy great French wines in a relaxing atmosphere. Starts at $30;
  • Paris Dinner Cruise - glass-sided boats with panoramic views and live music with dinner, starting at $145;
  • Grand Louvre Museum guided tour - 2.5 hour tour starting at $54 adult;
  • CitiRama Paris L’Open - 1 or 2 days of travel on hop-on-hop-off bus with 4 different sightseeing routes, over 50 stops, starting at $37.

For more information or to book any Rail Europe product to France or anywhere in Europe, contact a travel agent or Rail Europe at 1-888-382-7245 or log on to www.raileurope.com. Rail Europe is the largest North American supplier of European rail travel products for individuals, families or groups.

Notes *TGV= Train a Grande Vitesse (French high-speed trains, traveling 186-nearly 200 mph):

** Prices subject to change. For the latest prices, log on to www.raileurope.com

Photos: members of the press may download high-res photos of Eurostar and other European trains at www.raileurope.com/presspix