TGV - Train a Grand Vitesse Gare de Lyon - Paris Train Station Hotel Massena - Nice
France & Monaco - 2002 Physics Teaching, Aviation Photography, Glassblowing Edward Pascuzzi The TGV train system (Train a Grande Vitesse) which stretches throughout France and much of western Europe, is a high speed rail service developed in the 1970s which was based upon Japan’s Shinkansen (bullet) train dating back to 1959.  In the mid-1970s, the French government began researching and funding the use of high-speed train transportation on conventional tracks, which today has been dubbed the “train that saved French railways.”  This dream has been realized as in late 2003, the TGV railway carried its billionth passenger, and as of 2010, has carried more than 100 million passengers annually.         Many speed and near-speed records have been achieved over the years by the French TGV rail system, including that of April 3, 2007, when the train reached a speed of 357.2 miles per hour during a test run.  In that same year, a TGV was reported to achieved the fastest scheduled rail service between two adjacent cities, with a start-stop speed of 173.6 miles per hour, which was later surpassed by the Chinese Harmony express train.  More typical runs by the TGV assume slower speeds, such as our trip from Paris to Nice, which was a distance of approximately 530 miles covered in about six hours (with only two stops).  According to a Garmin GPS 12 tracker, our train reached a maximum speed of 186.0 miles per hour.  To read and learn more about TGV trains throughout France and Europe, visit these websites;                           and Built to replace the old landing stage of Lyon, the present building of the Lyon Station was built between 1895 and 1902 (designed by the architect Marius Toudoire) by the PLM (Paris-Lyon-Marseille) Company, and timed with the Universal Exhibition of 1900 in mind.  Toudoire, helped by 30 artists, decorated the famous "Train bleu", the restaurant situated above the main entry and listed as an historic monument since 1972 for its "Belle Epoque" interior, left unchanged since the opening in 1901. About 40 paintings illustrate the cities served by the Company.   	On the exterior, one cannot avoid noticing the characteristic square tower and its four clocks. Statues representing the cities of Paris and Marseille, together with low reliefs personifying Fishing and Hunting, decorate the main building.  The Station’s construction Recent modernization work allows the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) to serve this station. Departures for southern France, the Alps, Switzerland, Italy and Greece are from here. Following our arrival into Nice on Tuesday evening (4/2/02), we originally stayed for two nights at the Hotel Univers, in the heart of the city.  Unfortunately, everything imaginable was wrong with this hotel, with everything from broken furniture and malfunctioning showers to holes in the wall and cigarette smoke everywhere (which, incidentally, is endemic to all of France).  After much work, our NETC representative was able to relocate us to the Hotel Massena, literally down the street and around the corner.    	Located right in the center of Nice, next to Place Massena on rue Gioffredo, lies the Massena Hotel, an elaborately stylish hotel with a beautiful Belle Epoque facade.  Staying here one has the advantage of enjoying a prestigious setting all while being within walking distance of several of the numerous attractions of Nice.  Shopping, touring the old part of the city or visiting the beachfront are all within a moments walk from one’s hotel room. La Cote D’Azur - Nice
The   capital   of   the   Riviera   and   fifth   largest   city   in France,   Nice   scarcely   deserves   its   glittering   reputation. Living   off   inflated   property   values   and   fat   business accounts,   its   ruling   class   has   hardly   evolved   from   the eighteenth-century    Russian    and    English    aristocrats who    first    built    their    mansions    here;    today    it's    the renters    and    retired    people    of    various    nationalities whose     dividends     and     pensions     give     the     city     its startlingly   high   ratio   of   per   capita   income   to   economic activity. Their   votes   ensured   the   monopoly   of   municipal   power   held   for   decades   by   the   right-wing   dynasty, whose   corruption   was   finally   exposed   in   1990   when   mayor   Jacques   Médecin   fled   to   Uruguay.   He   was finally   extradited   and   jailed.   Despite   the   disappearance   of   400 million   francs   (about   $80   million   USD)   of   taxpayers'   money, public    opinion    remained    in    his    favor.    From    his    Grenoble prison    cell,    Médecin,    who    had    twinned    Nice    with    Cape Town   during   the   height   of   South   Africa's   apartheid   regime, backed   the   former   Front   National   member   and   close   friend of    Jean-Marie    Le    Pen,    Jacques    Peyrat,    in    the    1995    local elections. Peyrat won with ease. Politics   apart,   Nice   has   other   reasons   to   qualify   it   as   one of    the    more    dubious    destinations    on    the    Riviera:    it's    a pickpocket's   paradise;   the   traffic   is   a   nightmare;   miniature poodles   appear   to   be   mandatory;   phones   are   always   vandalized;   and   the beach    isn't    even    sand,    its    gravel.    And    yet    Nice    still    manages    to    be delightful.   The   sun   and   the   sea   and   the   relaxed,   affable   Niçois   cover   a multitude    of    sins.    The    medieval    rabbit    warren    of    the    old    town,    the Italianate   facades   of   modern   Nice   and   the   rich,   exuberant,   residences   that made    the    city    one    of    Europe's    most    fashionable    winter    retreats    have    all survived   intact.   It   has   also   retained   mementos   from   its   ancient   past,   when the   Romans   ruled   the   region   from   here,   and   earlier   still,   when   the   Greeks founded the city.
Monaco The capital of the Riviera and fifth largest city in France, Nice scarcely deserves its glittering reputation. Living off inflated property values and fat business accounts, its ruling class has hardly evolved from the eighteenth-century Russian and English aristocrats who first built their mansions here; today it's the renters and retired people of various nationalities Monaco, an ancient principality steeped in a rich and colorful history, is considered by many to be Europe's most fascinating country. Though the Principality covers but one square mile, it stands as a proud monarchy with his Serene Highness Prince Rainier III as its head of state.  According to the 1990 official census, the Principality consists of 29,972 inhabitants, 5,070 of whom are Monégasques, 12,047 French and 5,000 Italian. A sovereign and independent state, the Principality of Monaco has borders on its landward side with several communes of the French Department of the Alpes-Maritimes; from west to east these are Cap d`Ail, la Turbie, Beausoleil and Roquebrune Cap Martin. Toward the south, Monaco faces the Mediterranean Sea.   	Today people visit Monaco and its glittering district Monte Carlo not simply for a vacation in its year-round warm climate (with an average temperature of 67 o F), not just to test their standing with lady luck, nor merely to see and be seen, but to revel in the memorable life-enhancing experience that is Monaco. Fragonard Parfumeur
During   our   visit   to   Monaco,   we   had   the   good   fortune   of spending   the   afternoon   at   one   of   three   of   southern   France’s leading   perfumeries,   and   one   of   the   finest   in   all   of   Europe   on Friday,   April   5.      Fragonard ,   the   perfumery   nestled   between Nice   and   Monaco   right   next   to   the   sea,   has   manufactured   and sold    vast    arrays    of    soaps,    lotions,    exquisite    perfumes    and therapeutic oils since 1927.  Initially,     our     visit originated   with   a   two   hour workshop   on   the   benefits   of   aromatherapy   and   the   use   of   essential   oils   as   skin   and   body   cleansers.     Interestingly,   the   history   of   oils   and   perfumes   dates   to   around   4500   BC,   in   Egypt,   at   which   time   not only   did   Egyptians   use   such   fragrances   for   therapy   and   pleasure,   but   also   for   enbalming.      As   the centuries   passed,   during   the   reign   of   Louis   XIV,   there   was   a   unique   development   in   France   of   the famous   “alcoholic   waters”   or   “eau   de   mélisse”   and   “eau   royale.”         During   our   workshop,   we   were treated   to   a   kit   of   essential   oils   and   were   shown   how to   combine   them   in   different   ways   so   as   to   create therapeutic    tonics    of    our    own.        Thereafter,    we toured   their   facility,   witnessing   the   production   of   fine   perfumes   from   their   inception,   scent testing   to   final   packaging.      Of   course,   our   visit   concluded   with   a   massive   shopping   spree   in their perfume gallery.
Coming Home...... Our return home trip began at the airport in Nice (Nice Cote d'Azur - LFMN, or NCE), with a nonstop flight to London (London Heathrow - EGLL, or LHR) aboard British Airways Boeing 757-200 G-BPEK, flight #343.  Thereafter, following a short layover in London, we departed on British Airways’ Boeing  747-400 G-BYGB “Column” (which is Gaelic for “dove”), which at the time was only about 3 years old. Passing over the Irish Sea the shadow of the jet’s contrails is clearly visible in this image. Overflying Greenland (Pack Ice in the North Atlantic) Looking north while passing over the southern portion of Long Island one can notice the runways at MacArthur Airport (ISP) near the center of the picture.  Note that the south shore of the Island is dotted with dozens of small inlets and islands. Passing over northeastern Newfoundland the landscape takes on an alien form, with snow, ice and snow-covered waterways below. Overflying Newfoundland Passing just south of Cape Farvel, Greenland, one can easily spot snow-capped mountains in the distance, as well as icebergs and pack ice in the sea. Returning to New York

Website and all contents Copyright Edward Pascuzzi 2000, 2015

Shown here are photographs from a week-long excursion to various locations in France during the early spring of 2002.  Cities and towns  visted include Paris, Vernon (Giverney), Versailles, Vence, Nice and the principality of Monaco.  Click on the thumbnail images to  view enlarged photographs.