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France: Head East This Summer on the TGV Est

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France’s new high-speed train link TGV Est was officially inaugurated last Thursday, though Cheapos will have to wait until June 10 for commercial service to begin. Travel time between Paris and Strasbourg will be cut to 2 hours and 20 minutes from the current 3 hours and 50 minutes. Links to Luxembourg, the Swiss cities of Basel and Zurich, and the German cities of Munich and Frankfurt, will also be much faster.

French-language weekly Le Nouvel Observateur reports this week on a great deal tied to the opening of the new line. Between June 10 and September 10, a total of 5000 tickets priced at €15 valid for any destination on the line will be put on sale every day.

Cheapos should consider some of the stops on the line before pressing on to Strasbourg and beyond. Reims, the capital of France’s champagne region, will be a mere 45 minutes from the Gare de l’Est. The local tourist office has an overnight deal priced at €54 per person including hotel, breakfast and three tasting visits to the cellars at one of the champagne houses (Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, and Pommery.)

Also en route: Nancy, a lovely university town with Renaissance buildings, beautiful squares, parks and a tramway. Just one hour and 30 minutes from Paris, it’s a perfect weekend destination. And last but not least, Strasbourg, seat of the Council of Europe and the capital of Alsace, is a vibrant, cosmopolitan town with an amazing cathedral and dense, picturesque historic center.

France’s eastern realms have a culture and gastronomy all their own so take your time to soak it up.

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