The TGV ride is similar to that in an airplane. In first-class, one row of single seats and one of twin seats made of molded plastic. Second-class cars hold four seats across with less padding. Attendants bring drinks and food via a trolley and food service is by tray. Cold platters are available in second-class and a stand-up bar that separates first- and second- class cars has sandwiches and croque-monsieurs. Rail buffs deplore the lack of mystique and the absence of dining cars.
The name Paris hotels, The Ritz, Crillon, Georges V, Bristol, Plaza Athene, and the like, are expensive. In 1984 a room cost between $100 and $200, and not so strangely 30 to 50 percent of their clientele are Americans. Staff outnumber rooms about two to one. Of these grand hotels only the Crillon is French-owned, owned by the Taittinger champagne family. Smaller hotels in the same general vicinity, in the heart of Paris, are reasonably priced, and many believe have more character. Individually owned, each has its own personality and is often managed by the proprietors. Many are within walking distance of Notre Dame Cathedral.
France’s forty thousand tourist hotels are graded by the government according to the one to four-star system; four-star L and four-star are deluxe and first-class. The one-star hotels are simple but comfortable.
The grading system applies to hotels de tourisme only. Others are not officially graded and their rates and conditions are not controlled.