TGV Atlantique First Class
Wikipedia: "The TGV Atlantique (TGV-A) is a class of high-speed trains used in France by SNCF; they were built by Alstom between 1988 and 1992, and were the second generation of TGV trains, following on from the TGV Sud-Est.
105 bi-current sets, numbered 301-405, were built for the opening of the LGV Atlantique. Entry into service began in 1989. They are 237.5 m (779 ft) long and 2.904 m (9 ft 6.3 in) wide. They weigh 444 t (437 LT; 489 ST), and are made up of two power cars and ten carriages with a total of 485 seats. They were built for a maximum speed of 300 km/h (186 mph) with 8,800 kW (11,801 hp) total power under 25 kV.
Modified unit 325 set the world speed record in 1990 on the new LGV before its opening. Modifications, such as improved aerodynamics, larger wheels and improved braking were made to enable test run speeds of over 500 km/h (311 mph). The set was reduced to two power cars and three carriages to improve the power-to-weight ratio, weighing 250 t (246 LT; 276 ST). Three carriages, including the bar carriage in the centre, is the minimum possible configuration because of the way the sets are articulated.
The TGV Atlantique's world record was beaten on the 3 April 2007, by a TGV POS set on the LGV Est, which reached a top speed of 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph)."
France is affectionately referred to as "the Hexagon" for its overall shape.
French history goes back to the Gauls, a Celtic tribe which inhabited the area circa 300BC until being conquered by Julius Caesar.
The Franks were the first tribe to adopt Catholic Christianity after the Roman Empire collapsed. France became an independent location in the Treaty of Verdun in (843 AD), which divided up Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire into several portions.
The French monarchy reached its zenith during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, who stood for seventy-two years as the Monarch of all Monarchs. His palace of Versailles and its Hall of Mirrors are a splendid treasure-trove of Baroque art.
The French Revolution ended the rule of the monarchy with the motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" On July 14th, 1789 angry mobs stormed La Bastille prison and began the Revolution in which Louis XVI, his wife Marie-Antoinette and thousands of others met the guillotine.
One decade after the revolution, Napolean Bonaparte seized control of the Republic and named himself Emperor. His armies conquered most of Europe and his Napoleonic Code became a lasting legal foundation for concepts of personal status and property.
During the period of colonization France controlled the largest empire in the world, second only to Britain.
France is one of the founding members of the European Union and the United Nations, as well as one of the nuclear armed nations of the world.
Text by Steve Smith.