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Vive la France! Transit Museum Pays Homage to Paris

For the past few weeks, the SEPTA fleet has included a model Train a Grande Vitesse (TGV), the train used on France's high speed rail line.

The TGV was part of the window display created by Transit Gift Store associate George Rice to celebrate "Springtime in Paris," the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show. For the past eight years, the store has created award-winning displays at the Authority's 1234 Market Street headquarters for the "Phlower Power" Window Decorating Contest sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

"Not only do the windows have to promote the flower show's theme, the design must also incorporate the service or product the company offers," said Senior Sales Development Specialist Peggy Maguire.

To some, linking Paris, spring, flowers and transportation might be impossible, but Rice, a lifelong model train enthusiast, saw this year's theme as the perfect opportunity to showcase his model TGV. "Mention France to anyone interested in travel or railways and chances are they will immediately think of the TGV," said Rice. "The TGV train lines run from north, east, south and west in France, and all lead to Paris. The TGV changed the way an entire continent travels."

From 1981-2007, the TGV trains set record speeds from 236 to 357.2 miles per hour. Thanks to Rice's creativity, Center City window shoppers were taken on a "no speed" TGV trip through Paris and the French countryside on viaducts, viewing famous Parisian landmarks and spring flora.

"The challenge of the competition is to research and delve into what best represents the topic," said Rice. "It's always a wonderful learning experience for me."

Museums, shops, restaurants, businesses and attractions across the Philadelphia region participate in the Phlower Power contest. Rice begins working on his display in the fall. It takes approximately two months, with the help of Maguire and Transit Shop associates Noreen Wilkins and Bill Furey, to create the finished piece.

SEPTA and the Transit Store celebrate "Springtime in Paris."

Rice's model TGV "tours" Paris.

A real TGV.