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French President Francois Hollande Takes Train On Vacation, Not A Plane

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French President Francois Hollande waves with his companion Valerie Trierweiler at the Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris, Thursday Aug. 2, 2012, to board a train bound for the French Riviera. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)
French President Francois Hollande waves with his companion Valerie Trierweiler at the Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris, Thursday Aug. 2, 2012, to board a train bound for the French Riviera. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

PARIS -- France's President Francois Hollande has headed off on vacation this year by train – not plane – in a break with his flashy predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

Frugally-minded Hollande, who promised during spring's presidential campaign to save money by catching trains, took high-speed rail on Thursday from Paris with his girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiler.

They're headed for the Fort de Bregancon, an official retreat in southeastern France.

They travelled first class. But it's a stark contrast from the unpopular Sarkozy, who was criticized for vacationing using a Dassault Falcon 7X jet and an Airbus dubbed "Air Sarko One."

Hollande has carefully cultivated a "Mr. Normal" image. He says traveling by train is an important symbol at a time when "many French want to go on vacation...and can't."

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