The first high-speed trains linking Barcelona and Paris took off on Sunday (December 15), reducing the journey by nearly half the time to six hours and 25 minutes.

Two daily high-speed AVE trains will cover the journey between Sants and La Gare, but three other routes will be offered too: Madrid -Marseille in seven hours, Barcelona - Toulouse in three and Barcelona - Lyon in five.

AVE - which means bird - connects 10 cities from north to south in Spain already and will now link them to seven other cities in northern neighbour France.

The transport ministers of Spain and France travelled on the official opening journey at midday from Barcelona to Perpignan.

France's SNCF and Spain's Renfe will each provide 10 trains.

Prices will be between €59 (£49.78) and €170 (£143.43) and the rail network is expected to expand over 2014. SNCF says more than 30,000 tickets have already been sold for Paris-Barcelona route.

The project, which was approved in 1992, will still have a slower track though between Perpignan and Nimes.

When that part is completed, the journey is expected to take 5 hours and 30 minutes, but that route was not expected to be covered by high-speed trains until 2030.

Presented by Adam Justice