I‘m staying at the CitizenM in La Défense, far off to the West of Paris. My room has a brilliant view of La Grande Arche.
And of course I have to visit Le Train Bleu in the Gare de Lyon during my stay!
Looks like asparagus season has started.
I don‘t take photos of the whole meal. But I can hardly keep dessert from you: clementine souflé with koriander sorbet.
The French railways operate a lounge for their First Class passengers at Gare de Lyon. The entrance doesn‘t look like much, but there is a large seating area on the upper level. The lounge has complimentary wifi and a selection of hot and cold drinks.
The lounge is located more or less in between halls 2 and 3. The TGV Lyria trains which serve Switzerland normally depart from hall 2.
There‘s a bit of a hold up for my train to start boarding. Apparently they‘re experiencing delays in readying the trains. So eventually, the train doesn‘t start boarding until 12h40, twenty minutes after it should have already departed.
I‘m travelling in BusinessFirst today, which is the first First Class carriage behind either one of the engines. When I reach my seat, there‘s already a fat, smarmy Italian sitting there. He‘s on the phone to somebody who also speaks Italian. Not sure why he needs the phone, though. Because he‘s yelling loud enough to be heard in Sicily.
I ask him to move, which eventually he does after I decline his generous offer to give me somebody else‘s seat he‘s volunteering. The old Frenchman sitting behind me takes that as an opportunity to remind the guy that it‘s not permitted to make phone calls inside the cabin. You can take the Italian out of Italy, but…
Eventually we depart with a delay of 35 minutes
The BusinessFirst cabin
The BusinessFirst cabin is the same as the standard First Class carriage. The difference between the two classes is in the service, not the comfort.
Having said that, the premium cabin on the TGV is very nice. Seats are configured in a three-abreast seating arrangement in a mixed layout, with some seats facing each other and others behind each other. The single seats are mostly behind each other. There are only two sets of facing single seats.
There is plenty of storage space and legroom. Each seat has its own standard issue European electricity plug, and wifi is also available.
There are two crew serving the cabin, and they‘re really very friendly. They make a first run through the cabin to set the table and offer drinks and unscented hot towels.
There are three choices for the hot meal. Although, by the time they reach my row towards the end of the carriage, they‘ve run out of the vegetarian option. The fish option is king prawns, and the meat option is pulled veal. Which is what I have.
The tray comes with a small plate of cheese.
A pumpkin and chestnut salad.
And the veal is served with creamy mash and grilled chicoré.
The crew make two rounds with the bread basket. Because of Covid, the rolls are wrapped up individually in plastic.
And there is also a tasty creamy chocolate cake.
And to finish, a cup of not so bad coffee.
Arrival in Basel
In Basel, the TGV arrives at a platform on the Swiss side of the station, because it continues on to the Zürich terminus from Basel. That means there are no customs or passport checks on arrival.
Although I knew that complimentary food was served on the TGV in BusinessFirst, I was still rather surprised by the quantity and quality of this meal. I rather enjoyed it! I also thought that there was something very grand about dining while you speed along the French countryside doing an easy 320km/h and without breaking into a sweat.
The staff handled the delay professionally and proactively encouraged passengers to make their claim for compensation on the SNCF website (https://garantie30minutes.sncf.com/). I‘m not sure I‘ll make a claim, though. After all, I enjoyed my trip and I incurred no expenses because of the delay. I didn‘t have anywhere urgent to be anyway.