This train journey can be summed as Quick-Slow-Quick, with the Slow bit being an incredibly pretty amble around the South of France towards the Pyrenees.
The train leaves from the huge Gare De Lyon, and is made on a modern duplex TGV train. I’d bought a ticket in the first class upper-deck so I could get the best views. This is not the reserve of the super-rich, when booked several months in advance it was only about £20 more than standard class. The return journey on 1st Class was £129.
After passing through the frankly drab southern Paris suburbs, the train zooms through the centre of Paris on new high-speed lines and you wind up in Montpellier, in the heart of the South of France barely more than two hours after leaving Paris.
From there the train meanders it’s way towards the mountains, hugging the coast for a lot of its journey and passing inland lakes, lagoons and beautiful little French villages (cover photo). The route through the town of Sete was especially pretty. Soon you catch glimpses of the Pyrenees in the distance and the train yanks itself out of first gear and it’s back to high-speed lines, under the mountains and through Northern Spain before arriving at Barcelona Sants station.