Getting around in France

The first thing to bear in mind when it comes to transport of all sorts in France is that it is a very big country! 

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The number one tip if you are looking for a property here is to give yourself plenty of time; many of the properties that you have flagged, even in one department, can be a long way from each other - don’t think you can see all of them in one day!
 
Having said this, getting around in France is generally pretty easy; train and air transport in particular is very good, with links to every area. Of course, with so many regional airports across the country now in operation, offering flights to and from regional airports in the UK, actually going to France could not be easier. Down here in the Languedoc, for example, we have airports within an hour and a half of us.
 
The train network is fast and efficient. You can hop on the Eurostar in London and get to Paris in less than three hours - and from there you can be in the south in four or five hours. It works very well. Prices are okay, and there are plenty of offers, plus reductions for students and pensioners. You will find train stations in every major town, and most of the smaller ones also with excellent links. There are useful English language sites available - through which you can book on line and study the whole range of train service; these include SNCF - France's national state-owned railway company.
 
In much of rural France it is imperative to have a car, however; although the train services are excellent, some villages are quite a way away from the nearest train station, and larger supermarkets are usually located on the outskirts of towns. There certainly are local buses but in the more remote areas there may just be the one or two per day. Bus prices are very reasonable, and you can buy a season ticket for many services. You can find longer routes across Europe here.
 
Taxis are expensive! In our area there are certainly local firms, but competition is not great and we have found that even to go to, say, our nearest large town of Carcassonne is prohibitively expensive at around €80 for a 30 minute ride! My advice, if you are either buying a holiday home in France or plan to live here year round, is to equip yourself with a car of some sort (preferably left-hand drive)! Some villages are reasonably isolated and it would not make financial sense to rely on taxis all the time. Our experience has taught us that second hand cars in France are expensive so it makes sense to find a left-hand car in the UK (there are several dealers specialising in left-hand cars) and export it to France. If you are in the new car market, prices are roughly the same, so in that case you would be wise to wait until you get here and compare prices with various dealers asking for their best deal.
 
Some cities still have the tram system. Montpellier, for example, has a lovely overground tram network; each one is coloured differently according to the route and you can buy tickets easily at the tram stops. Toulouse has just introduced the same system as well as, at the airport, and there are also trams in Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Strasbourg, Orleans, Caen, and Mulhouse Nice, with a new one opening in Le Havre and many other towns. This is a lovely way of getting around. and you can buy a day ticket and hop on and hop off.
 
As I said at the beginning, just remember that France is a huge country – but because of that, the transport system, particularly the train service locally and nationally, is efficient and well laid out. Happy travelling in France!

Further reading for Living In France

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Finding work in France

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in France.
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Are you emigrating to France with school-age children?

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The best way to get settled in France is to find out as much as you can about your new community.
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The French healthcare system is one of the best in the world...

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