Day 4 – Connecting Europe Express Journal – Bordeaux to Turin

Where we went through the perfect wine itinerary, I tell you about the Connecting Europe Express Photo Competition, we talked about important nodes of the rail network in Europe, and we cross the Alps to arrive in Italy.

A long way through the whole of France today, what a spectacular country to admire by the window of a train! Bordeaux is just the first of France’s gems. We spent the night there, walked around and enjoyed a super vibe. Lots of people out on the streets with a perfect 25 C temperature, I have seldom seen such a density of wine bars, brasseries, and hang out places.  It feels like the Bordelais know how to have fun.

Parliament Square in Bordeaux

Most importantly, Bordeaux is perhaps the most well-known wine region in the world. It’s a pity our train has to leave the station every single day and we don’t have the time to go for a wine tour. But I did on other occasions and I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

In any case, off we go for day 4 on the Connecting Europe Express. I can’t help but noticing right away lots of people along the route, filming or taking photos of the train. I wonder whether they are just by passers or they were waiting for us. Perhaps they are trying to win the photo competition that will remain open until October 8 to win an inter-rail voucher for 2. If I wasn’t on the train, I’d sure try to pick a  spot with a great backdrop and give it a shot. 

The Connecting Europe Express in Modane, at the border between France and Italy

But I quickly focus on other issues at hand. We are travelling along the Montpelier-Perpignan segment, the only missing link on the high-speed network between Paris and Barcelona. I am told the EU is supporting the study of a new railway to close that gap with € 9.3 mil, working closely with the Occitaine region and the French rail operator SNCF. Paris and Barcelona, passing by Lyon, are two huge tourist and business hubs in Europe. I am sure many people would pick the most sustainable means of transport out there if connections were easy and fast.

Especially because the ride is really enjoyable. I am discussing with a colleague who points out Bordeaux isn’t the only well know place for wine in France. The Connecting Europe Express is going through Toulouse, Montpelier, Nîmes, Avignon, Lyon, Chambery and then towards Turin. What does this mean? Well, lots of magnificent views for sure, which I can only partially share here. We saw lakes, castles, monasteries, rivers, mountains, lots of cute towns and villages, even a Roman theatre in Avignon – with some help from an enthusiastic train manager who didn’t miss an occasion to point out a landmark. But above all, we saw vineyards.

Vinyards of the Hermitage region, view from the Connecting Europe Express

Indeed, today we are crossing Corbière, Minervois, Languedoc, Rhone, Hermitage and then we’ll head to Piedmont in Italy. All incredible wine regions. I would go as far as to say this is a perfect wine itinerary, and you can do it all by train. Cool, huh? It goes without saying, but I would strongly suggest stopping here and there for a couple of nights and go wine tasting 🙂

This goes straight into my bucket list, as there are so many regions in France I still don’t know and are worth visiting. But the journey goes on this time around, and between a travel plan and another, we arrive in Chambery without even realizing it.

Here the train is welcomed by many authorities, including the French Minister for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbar, who picked the occasion of the Connecting Europe Express passing by Chambery to go visit the construction site of the Lyon-Turin segment. He then said that works have well progressed. Other experts and authorities, among which the Chambery’s Mayor, the TEN-T Coordinator Iveta Radicova, and the Auvergne Rhone Alpes and the Piedmont regions, were pretty much all in agreement about the need to progress fast and steady on this project.

The Connecting Europe Express welcomed by French Minister for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbar

On this note, we all jumped back on board and rode towards our third border crossing, and towards Turin. Not before a change of locomotive in Modane though. Right at the borer. So we say goodbye to the locomotive from SNCF, and we welcome the Italian FS.

I am looking forward to the panoramas, the food, and why not, the wine too.  

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