In praise of slow travel

Have you tried your phone's train mode?

‘What if the Intercités and their calm allure – moving without being frenetic – were a good metaphor for daily life? Striping back unnecessary carriages. The ones you don’t need to have. Not to go frantically fast like a TGV, but instead find a rhythm that fits your own pace.’ Those are the words of David Medioni, author of inspiring book Être en Train who recently shared his vision for the future of trains with Adrien Aumont, one of the two co-founders of Midnight Trains. It turns out they had quite a lot in common.

For David Medioni touched on a very legitimate point there. He may have pointed the finger at the TGV, but could equally have singled out the illusion of speed sold by the commercial flight sector, since an hour-long flight will often take up well over four hours of our time, door to door, not to mention the thoroughly stressful and uncomfortable travel experience throughout. With Midnight Trains, we’ve decided to offer something very different.

Because in a world that’s held up speed as an absolute luxury, we should still take the time to behave unlike those who appear to suffer constantly from FOMO. Moving fast, running has become a way to reassure us we are really living. But within this infinite rush, is it still possible to find the distance necessary to define what’s really indispensable for us to feel fulfilled?

David Medioni invited his readers to find their own pace in life, convinced as he was that the train is one of those rare spaces we are able to really suspend time for however long the journey lasts, thus allowing us to refocus on what really matters in life.

Watching the landscape fly by, observing our travel buddies by day or night, taking time to simply do nothing: the rail setting offers us a rare pause in our ever-hurried societies. To create the ideal conditions for this state of mind, there are a few rules it’s worth following right up until you reach your destination – not making phone calls that could disturb your neighbours, not responding to emails en route. Fortunately, tunnels are a physical ‘train mode’ that’ll make sure you’re unable to do so anyway.

And doesn’t that sort of decompression chamber sound ideal before the start of your holidays, the perfect counterpoint to the long work weeks that have preceded your getaway? So give it your all and make the most of the slow pace of train travel. That’s also what we want to offer you on-board our trains, which will allow you to leave one city at night only to wake up in a new world entirely the following morning.

While summer offers us more opportunities to climb aboard a train and escape to faraway lands, let’s bear in mind that ‘the power of a train journey lies in its ability to turn us in on ourselves and encourage us to reflect on the rhythm of our daily lives. Its pace. Its carriages, empty or overburdened. Filled with passengers, or not. Noisy, or silent. We’re invited to peep inside our carriages. To open the door and confront ourselves with whatever’s found behind,’ as David Medioni quite brilliantly put it.

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