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Newest TGV Line Creates New Travel Possibilities to Eastern Fran

New York, NY, February 15, 2007 - France's latest high-speed rail line, TGV Est (East), will begin service June 10 and is expected to change travel patterns within France and beyond. Traveling at a standard operating speed of nearly 200 mph (320 km/hr), the fastest in Europe, TGV East will reduce travel times between approximately 30 destinations by one-third to one-half, and the frequency of TGV service on these routes will increase 15-20%.

Designed to speed eastward connections from Paris to the regions of Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine and Alsace, the new line also provides direct service between these regions and Ile-de-France, Northern, Western and Southwestern France, as well as to Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Imagine stepping onto a train in Paris and 45 minutes later being in Reims, in the heart of Champagne country. Or going from Paris to Strasbourg, on the German border, in just 2 hours, 20 minutes (currently more than 4 hours), to Metz or Nancy in just 1.5 hours (instead of 3 hours). Or travel from Lorraine's capital, Nancy, directly to Lille in northern France in just 3 hrs, 20 min. to catch the Eurostar train to London (itself faster after mid-November - see separate Eurostar press release). Today, the Nancy-Lille trip requires 4 hours - plus transferring from one Paris train station (Gare de l'Est) to another (Gare du Nord); after June 10 it will be a direct connection with no need to change trains.

Fascinating destinations in Eastern France

Fast and frequent service means travelers can see more in less time, and use daytrips to see even more, instead of constantly changing hotels and packing and unpacking. Here are some of the best places to explore with a France Rail pass or France Rail 'n Drive Pass and the new TGV East:

Champagne-Ardenne

Spend a day or two in Paris, then take the train 45 min. to Reims, famous for its magnificent cathedral (where 26 French kings were crowned), miles of underground Champagne cellars, Gallo-Roman ruins and many Art Deco buildings, including the Carnegie Library. And hotel prices in Reims are on average 40% less expensive than comparable Parisian hotels.

From Reims, take a daytrip by rail (or rental car) to Epernay - a lovely town filled with Champagne makers along its Avenue de Champagne, including names like Moët et Chandon, Perrier Jouët and others. With a car you can tour small pretty neighboring villages, such as Hautvillers (home of Dom Perignon, the monk who "invented" the Champagne process) and Vertus.

Lorraine

Take a rail daytrip to the Lorraine region while staying in Reims (or your next hotel hub, Strasbourg). From the new TGV station near Reims, it's just 40 minutes to the Lorraine TGV station and a quick shuttle bus ride to either Metz or Nancy - both worth visiting.

Nancy 's elegant Place Stanislas is one of the most beautiful town squares in all of Europe, and the city is full of Art Nouveau treasures - foremost among them, the Musée de l'École de Nancy.

Metz has a stunning cathedral (2 nd tallest nave in France) with several Chagall windows among 70,000 sq. ft. of stained glass (the most illuminated cathedral in France), a massive gate from the medieval city walls (Porte des Allemands), lovely gothic arcades in Place St-Louis and Roman walls that are part of a church, restaurants and a shopping mall, as well as Roman statues in the Musées de la Cour d'Or.

At the new TGV Meuse station, you can pick up your Rail 'n Drive rental car and drive out to Verdun to pay homage to hundreds of thousands of soldiers who perished in 1916 in the bloodiest battle of World War I. See the Rodin memorial, the World Center of Peace and the Rights of Man, the 14 th c. Porte Chaussée, cathedral and underground galleries of the Citadelle.

Alsace

Next stop - Strasbourg, with its picturesque Petite France section, filled with medieval half-timbered houses along the River Ill and a canal. The tall spires of the warm-colored sandstone cathedral dominate the city, and the personality, cuisine and culture is a heady mix of German and French.

From Strasbourg you can daytrip by car along the Alsatian Route du Vin or Route des Châteaux. Or take TGV East trains to charming Colmar (30 min from Strasbourg) or Mulhouse (home of the Museum of the French Railroads, the National Car Museum, Firefighters Museum and Museum of Printed Fabrics - something for everyone and just 40 minutes from Strasbourg).

You can ride TGV East even further - to Germany (Stuttgart - 1 hr from Strasbourg or Frankfurt - 2hrs 35 min from Lorraine TGV station) or to Switzerland (Basel is 1 hr from Strasbourg, Zurich 2 hrs 15 min from Strasbourg). Luxembourg is a short (1 hr 40 min) daytrip away from Metz by TGV East (or 2 hrs 5 min from Paris).

Tickets, reservations and timetables for TGV East service will be available starting April 10 on www.raileurope.com (in the U.S.) or www.raileurope.ca (in Canada), where you can also find information about train travel throughout France and buy France Rail passes, France Rail 'n Drive Passes, Eurostar tickets, and tour products for Paris, Strasbourg and Nancy, as well as rail travel products throughout Europe - for individuals or groups. Call a travel agent or Rail Europe's experienced reservations agents at 1-888-382-7245 (U.S.) or 1-800-361-7245 (Canada).

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

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