Alternatives to Flying to France

This is a guest blog written by Jacky Fitt. Jacky and husband Tom travelled to Le Moulin by train as paying guests last year - but left very much as friends. Jacky shares her experience of travelling by train from the UK to France using Eurostar and the TGV. Something we will all need to consider post Covid 19, as the world of budget airlines looks like it will never be the same again.

Finding Joy in the Journey, by Jacky Fitt

Like many people, we’re looking for ways to live more sustainably and forgoing holiday flights goes a long way to bringing down our carbon footprint. A break to visit Nik and Heidi at le Moulin de Pensol from our home in York in the north of England, was on the cards and the plan was the take the train. There are far more trains than planes and while planning the trip gave us more choices, it also meant a different mindset. 

York to London, London to Paris, Paris to somewhere outside Paris to pick up the TGV to Limoges and back. Slick booking websites translated into English to support our French, and self-print tickets meant an evening online sorted the lot. Train tickets in Europe are cheaper than the UK and offers plenty of advice, tips and guides from other travellers on European routes, carriers and stations… our short break was taking on more exciting proportions. So, what did we learn and would we do it again?

We’ve been encouraged for years to expect to get where we’re going faster and easier, so much so that the ability to slow down and actually take in the miles we're travelling feels like a lost art. The extra cost of taking the train instead of subsidised short-haul flights, means a bit more effort to get your money’s worth, but you’ll be rewarded.  All our timings went to plan, we left a lot of wiggle room, probably too much and, after our first slightly nervous round trip, we’ll have more confidence. For future trips we will visit friends in London, put in an overnight in Paris and look at stopping midway to explore a French city we otherwise might never visit. Let’s face it, to be good at anything you do actually have to take the plunge and do it. All the usual advice applies, like books to read, music to listen to and lots of snacks. I really can’t remember the last time I got the chance to daydream out over the changing scenery. No one got cross or lost; it felt good and we’d do it again.

Driving too gives you so much more flexibility to move at your own pace and explore. Having driven down from Calais the year before, stopping off in Burgundy with close friends on the way, we’re now thinking about another route via an overnight ferry and driving from a port like St Malo. This would find us wending our way across another beautiful region to arrive in Pensol.

Once you decide to ditch the plane different opportunities open up. News about SNCF planning a five-hour direct Eurostar from London St Pancras to Bordeaux for 2022 sounds great, just enough time for lunch, a decent nap and a couple of chapters of a good book. Yes, it does take more time, a bit more planning and still, frustratingly, more cash, but the payoff is good for the planet and means finding joy in the journey, not just the destination.

It's a tough job but someone has to do it. Heidi, Tom & Jacky enjoy a beer at Le Ferme du Lac.

Copywriter and author, Jacky is a Creative Director of marketing and publishing company The Big Ideas Collective. Jacky is also currently developing The Micro Entrepreneur Club, a website in support of sole traders and small businesses across Europe, due to launch later this year. 

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