Public transport in France

France, of course, is a very big country, but the train network is very fast and friendly!

Paris metro

France, of course, is a very big country (when you first come from the UK to live here, you really notice this!). Public transport is, by and large, very good; train and air transport in particular are tremendous, with links to every area – and, of course, with so many regional airports across the country now in operation offering flights to and from the UK, actually going to France could not be easier!

 

The train network is fast and efficient. You can hop on the Eurostar in London for example, get to Paris in under 3 hours and from there you can be in the south in 4 or 5 hours. It works very well. Prices do vary according to times of course, but there are plenty of offers and reductions for students and pensioners. You will find train stations in every major town, and most of the smaller ones also have excellent links. There are a couple of helpful website with English instructions on how to book online, and a wealth of information about a whole range of train services:

 

In much of rural France though, it is fairly important to have a car; train services are excellent, but many of the villages will be 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 remoter 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. In the area around Carcassonne, a new scheme has recently been introduced whereby you pay just ONE EURO for most bus routes within the department. For longer bus routes which go across Europe, check out http://www.eurolines.fr/en/.

 

Taxis are dear! Where we live in the Languedoc, 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 – need not be a Rolls Royce! Some villages are reasonably isolated, and it would not make financial sense to rely on taxis all the time.

 

Some cities still have the tram system. Montpellier, for example, has a lovely over-ground tram network, each one coloured differently according to the route, and you can buy tickets easily at the tram stops. Toulouse introduced the same system last year. There are also trams in Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Strasbourg, Orleans, Caen, Mulhouse Nice and many other towns, including the new line just opened in Le Havre. This can be a lovely way of getting around, and you can buy a day ticket and hop on and hop off.

 

It is as safe to travel around France as in the UK. It is always worth checking out train and bus timetables or asking at the local mairie if the bus service is a rural one. Don’t expect them always to run on time, but by and large the transport system works very well.

 


Further reading for Living In France

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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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