Another in my continuing series of Thoughts From Afar comes this report on the highly-touted TGV high-speed rail line in France. I had the very best of intentions to give it a try this week. I wanted to get the experience of a "successful" high-speed ride that would be more current than my early '80s trip on the Japanese Shinkansen. I got on the website, located the outbound and return trains I wanted and then came some sticker shock. An hour trip (at somewhere around 200 mph peak speed) was going to cost 232 euro for two travelers. That's $150 per person. Not to mention the hassle of it all--getting the reservation, paying with their special approach, baggage check, security screening, etc. It is all just like an airline flight with all the time that involves.
The bottom line: a rental car that carries everyone and everything can be picked up much closer, dropped off right at the airport (unlike the TGV that would have a solid hour or more bus connection), driven locally at the destination which was a requirement anyway and costs less than half to rent. Add gas and any tolls, but adding the local use of a car and it's still half and way less time. Even in France, I ain't buying it.