Peter York on Ads: Forget Gauloises, Structuralists, and Françoise Hardy...

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The Independent Online

I love doing it the Eurostar way. You can do compare and contrast - size and texture of fields, deployment of marshalling yards, all those things - and you can move about. You can get their not-very-good-at-all snacks wherever you want.

Even the carriages are pleasant enough in a vaguely pink dralon and smoked glass added-value way.

The whole thing, as Eurostar say in their new commercial, is so much easier than flying. City centre to city centre, even the absolute timing is a toss-up when you factor everything in. But they're saying it's nicer too, part of the experience. If you're going to have a good time, start as you mean to go on, "you carry your journey with you".

So they've got a pretty black girl - she looks middle-class African, rather than Caribbean-British - having the Eurostar experience while the voiceover is contrasting what would happen if she had decided to fly. "They'd be telling you to buckle up," (she's opening her knock-off Hermes Kelly bag) "and turn off your mobile phone" (she's turning it on). "And you might be experiencing some turbulence" (she's spooning sugar into her placid coffee).

And then when you get there, there's passport control and the baggage carousel and taxi-getting. You could still be miles away (she's greeting her mum at the station). And then there's a lot of direct intravenous girly Paris stuff - flowers, shop windows, grands allees and crucial domes. Plus the Gare du Nord. And a music track involving "Toujours" and "L'amour".

There are no untipped Gauloises, traditional lavs, Structuralists, Françoise Hardy, Piaf, Cocteau or farmers' demos - but who's to say they're wrong keeping it to Paris Lite. Paris, bring it on. But if you're young, poor and paying for your own ticket, you'll assume that this altogether better quality experience costs n times more than the no-frills carriers and their flying Bedford vans.