By Melanie Lieberman
December 18, 2013

Traveling around Europe just got faster with the new TGV train linking France and Spain. On Sunday, the inaugural journey began at 7:15 a.m. in Paris, and concluded less than six and a half hours later in Barcelona. That’s less than half the time it used to take.

The new line—which gives the world's fastest trains a run for their money—also links Lyon, Marseille, and Toulouse, and was celebrated by both French president Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as a milestone for international relations between the two countries.

Construction is still underway on the bullet train, which will connect the Parisian capital and Catalan city even faster when it zips through the European countryside at 201 miles per hour on a new section of track that will open in 2017.

Spain-based train operator RENFE is optimistic that the new service may lure travelers away from air-travel. It may be five hours longer, but without bag fees, security checks, air cabin pressure, and a competitive one-way price of only 59 euros, the rail is now a viable alternative.

Melanie Lieberman is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.