Last night (or a few hours ago if you’re in the States) I mentioned buying a Paris-to-Cannes train ticket for 185 euros. In the comment thread Bob Strauss said “that sounds like a lot for train fare. How long is the trip? You getting a bunk or something for what, 6 to 9 hours?” Me: “It’s actually a five-hour trip and yes, agreed — the fare is high. All European train fares are pricey, and I’ve never been happy about that. And yes, I could’ve paid a bit less for a second-class seat but that’s not how I roll. (Second class is no cut-rate bargain — it’s just marginally less expensive.) But it’s still worth it and here’s why.

Agreed, a one-way Paris-to-Nice plane fare is cheaper by 30 to 45 euros. BUT the train leaves right from the middle of town (very relaxing and stress-free), and so I don’t have to hike all the way out to Orly or CDG and deal with crowds and security and all the rest of that time-consuming airport hassle. AND it’s hugely pleasurable to sit there in comfort (you can stretch out, walk around, get a bite in the food car or work on a piece without the guy in front leaning his seat back into your 18 inches of personal space) and gaze at the beautiful French countryside whizzing by. AND the train drops me right into downtown Cannes, and I’m thus spared from having to disembark in Nice and then wait for the bus and the congested 40-minute freeway trip to Cannes.

Train trips make you feel like a refined, settled, civilized person leading a refined, settled and efficient life. Taking a plane makes you feel like you’re part of a cattle herd.