After two glorious weeks in Provence with sunshine and warm weather everyday, it was time for us to leave Provence and take the TGV fast train up to Paris. From our base in Cucuron, we estimated about an hour drive to Avignon TGV train station. Although the traffic was light and we stopped to fill up the gas station, we found the drive was closer to 1 hour and 30 minutes on the D973and the N7 roads. When you reach the outskirts of Avignon, follow signs to La Courtine, which is the area where the TGV station is located on the southern outskirts of Avignon.
Upon arrival at the Avignon TGV station, we found the station parking areas under some construction, which made finding the car rental return area a bit confusing. Car rental returns used to be located on the south (back side) of the station, but are now located on the north (front side) of the station. As you approach the station, enter the P1 parking area through the gate and veer right, then follow the signs to the car rental companies offices. Park in one of the designated spots and return your keys to the car rental office.
If you are travelling on a rail pass, make sure your pass has been validated by the ticket office on the first day of use. Enter your passport number and the first date of travel in the numbered dates of travel boxes provided. Note that the dates are entered vertically: i.e. day in upper box and month in lower box. The year is not required in the dates of travel boxes since the first and last day, month and year of the pass validity are already printed above. Repeat for subsequent dates of travel.
If you are travelling on the TGV or any other premium trains, you will need a reservation, and your reservation ticket must b e validated in the yellow borne machines in the station prior to boarding the train. Put the reservation ticket into the validation machine (borne) with the right side of the ticket into the machine with the print side down.
Once the platform (quai) number is posted on the departures board, make your way to the platform and look for the composition de train to determine where on the platform you should wait to board the specific coach number indicated on your ticket. Many TGV trains are duplex with upper and lower seating areas, and your ticket will indicate whether your seats are located in the upper duplex or lower duplex.
There are luggage areas at the entrance to each coach, but these can fill up quickly. More luggage areas are located mid-coach and also at the entrance and midway in the upper duplex area as well. It can be a challenge to drag large and heavy suitcases up the stairs. Make sure you dont overpack and keep your luggage as small and light as possible. You can wait in the entry area until the other passengers are seated, and then take your luggage to the upper level if necessary. Make sure you pack all your valuables separately in a bag that you will keep with you at all times, then you can leave your luggage downstairs even if your seats are upstairs and you won`t have to worry about your valuables.
There are dining cars on most TGV trains where you can get snacks and beverages, but we prefer to buy a sandwich and a drink at the station prior to boarding. Many stations have a good boulangeries and sandwich shops such as Paul, one of our favourites.
Once you are settled in your seats, you can relax and enjoy the views of the passing countryside en route to Paris.