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Travelling to South of France, Provence & Cote d'Azur
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TRAVELLING TO SOUTH OF FRANCE & COTE d'AZUR

We are unable to make flight arrangements, but we do book ferries. We are happy to give advice and make suggestions based on our own experience. Please see below information, contact numbers and links you may find useful when making your own travel arrangements. We try to keep this up to date, but things are changing all the time, so please check, as we cannot be held responsible for any errors and omissions on this page.

Travelling by train

Ferry and Tunnel

Flying to France

Travelling by bus

Driving in France

Cycling

>Travelling by train

One of the joys of choosing South of France as your holiday destination is that you have a choice of ways of getting there. If you are concerned about the environmental consequences of flying, or just don’t like flying, the train is an enjoyable option for reaching the South of France and the Cote d'Azur, and your journey can be part of the fun of the holiday. Having visited Paris by Eurostar, and also made the journey from Devon to Aix-en-Provence using the French rail network, we can recommend the French trains as a relaxing, clean and efficient way to travel. Some of the TGV trains are double deckers, and you can get some great views from the upper deck!


Motorail trains no longer run from Calais to South of France, but for anyone living in the north-eastern part of the UK and north-western mainland Europe, there are Dutch motorail services which will take you and your car (or bicycle or motorbike) overnight from S-Hertogenbosch in Holland right down to Avignon or Fréjus, arriving fully refreshed on Saturday morning, ready to start your holiday! You can also take up to two pets with you. 

Alternatively you could hire a car or bicycles when you arrive at your destination. Some of our properties on Cote d'Azur are ideally situated for exploring the local area just using public transport. 


By Train to South of France, Cote d'Azur & Provence></p>

<br />

<p><span>Photo by Ian Britton, <a href=www.freefoto.com


Eurostar

Now that Eurostar departs from St Pancras station, the journey from London to Avignon in the South of France takes just over 6 hours (or just under 6 hours on the direct train in the summer!) Britain’s first 186 mph line has cut all journey times to the Continent by 25 minutes, making it much quicker to reach provincial towns in South of France and Cote d'Azur. There are connections to Nice, Cannes and Aix-en-Provence amongst others, and several direct services in the summer - check the website for a full list of destinations.


There are three main rail companies in France; SNCF is the national train service , TER SNCF is the regional French rail system, and TGV is the fast train network .  Rail Europe is the UK subsidiary of SNCF French Railways, and is the UK’s leading supplier of rail travel into South of France and Europe. You can check international rail timetables and book international tickets and rail passes on www.internationalrail.com .


Crossing Paris - the Eurostar terminal is at the Gare du Nord, so if you are travelling down to the south of France by train you will need to take the RER - line D to the Gare de Lyon for the TGV to the Cote d'Azur. Gare de Lyon is the second stop from the Gare du Nord. (If possible, change trains at Lille, it's much easier).


A very useful site which should answer all your questions on travelling to and in South of France and Cote d'Azur by train, including very practical advice about crossing Paris,  is http://www.seat61.com/France.htm


Local train lines


Côte d’Azur train line

In 2005 a new train line opened on Cote d'Azur connecting Grasse and Cannes, and going on to Antibes, Nice, Monaco, Menton, and Ventimiglia, all without changing. The trains are smart looking, modern TER double-deckers. They run regularly from 6am till about 11.30pm which means that if you are staying in a villa in Grasse you can have a relaxing night out in Cannes without worrying about driving. The train stops at villages on the way such as Mouans Sartoux and La Faryère. If you don’t want to hire a car you can visit the coast in the day time without the hassle of driving. For timetable click here .


Train des Pignes

One of France's most spectacular railways, the Chemins de Fer de Provence (00 33 4 97 03 80 80; www.trainprovence.com ) is a narrow-gauge railway that& runs between the Gare du Sud in Nice and the town of Dignes-les-Bains in Haute Provence. This is well worth a trips, as the scenery is magnificent, and there are stops in some beautiful places. Tickets are €17.65 (2007).


Train de Merveilles

This train follows the Roya valley and crosses the Alps to Cuneo in Italy, taking in spectacular views and some interesting mountain villages on the way.  The website www.ter-sncf.com has more information.


Trains from Nice airport

 

The local TER station (Nice Saint-Augustin) is a 15 - 20 minute walk from terminal 1. From here you can catch trains east towards Nice, Monaco and all stations to the Italian border at Ventimiglia, or west towards Antibes and Cannes.


The SNCF station is in the centre of Nice and buses leave both terminals approximately every 30 minutes from 7.53 am to 8.53pm. The journey takes 15 minutes. Telephone 00 33 4 89 88 98 28



>Ferry

Ferry Travel to Brittany & South of France

Photo by Ian Britton, www.freefoto.com

For us, when we travel by ferry, the holiday in South of France starts as soon as we are aboard. We have found that check-in is far less stressful and time consuming than at the airport. There is room on board to walk around, comfortable seating to while away time with a book, the choice of shopping, cinema, listening to live music, taking in the sea views and fresh air…. and even a swimming pool on one of the boats! Renting a cabin affords extra comfort and privacy if required. If you take your car there are opportunities to stock up on French goodies from local markets and producers. As we are based in Devon, we use a French ferry company from our local port, and can enthusiastically recommend the buffet meal in the restaurant for a truly relaxing and delicious start to the trip……

In addition to all these advantages, by choosing to take the ferry or tunnel, your holiday in South of France will have less impact on the environment than if you fly.  Although ferry travel is one of the greenest methods of travelling to South of France and Cote d'Azur, ferry travelers now have the chance to be even more eco-friendly by offsetting their carbon emissions at www.ferrygreen.com for as little as £2.

Please note that LPG fuelled vehicles are prohibited from using Eurotunnel.

“A family of four travelling to South of France by ferry displaces less than a quarter of CO2 the same family would displace should they choose to fly”.

Brittany Ferries 0870 5360360 or 01752 227941 Brittany Ferries  Poole, Portsmouth and Cork to Cherbourg; Portsmouth to Caen, St Malo; Plymouth to Roscoff

Celtic Lines Rosslare to Cherbourg 00 353 53 9162688 www.celticlinkferries.com

Euroferries 0844 414 5355 Ramsgate to Boulogne www.euroferries.co.uk

Eurotunnel 0870 5353535 or  01303 272222  www.eurotunnel.com  Folkestone to Calais. Recorded passenger information 08000 969992

Irish Ferries 08705 171717 or 0151 2366921  www.irishferries.com Rosslare to Cherbourg, Roscoff

LD Lines 08704 284335 www.ldlines.com Portsmouth to Le Havre

Norfolkline 0870 8701020 or 01304 218410 www.norfolkline.com Dover to Dunkerque. 

P&O 08705 980333 or 01304 864008 www.poferries.com Dover to Calais

Transmanche 08704 201627 www.transmanche.ferries.org Newhaven to Dieppe

Getting the best fares: www.ferrycheap.com lists all the operators' best offers. It's best to book early and online for the lowest fares. Alternatively, booking through the Travel Shop on the Chez Nous website will give you a 5% reduction on fares with Brittany Ferries and P and O to South of France and Cote d'Azur


Flying to South of France

Flying to South of France, Cote d'Azur & Provence

Photo by Ian Britton, www.freefoto.com


It has never been easier to fly to South of France and the Cote d'Azur from the United Kingdom. There is a great choice from our regional airports to Provence and the Côte d’Azur. Our chart below indicates the airlines serving which routes - we will try and keep up with the new routes!


Airport 

Avignon

Marseille

Nice

Nimes 

Toulon

Belfast

 

 

EJ

 

 

Birmingham

 

BM

BM/BA

 

 

Bournemouth

 

 

 

 

 

Bristol

 

EJ

EJ

 

 

Cardiff

 

 

 

 

 

Cork

 

 

AL

 

 

Dublin

 

AL

AL

 

 

Edinburgh

J

 

EJ/J

 

 

Exeter

FB

 

 

 

 

Galway

 

 

 

 

 

Gatwick

 

EJ/BA

EJ/BA/AL

 

 

Glasgow

 

 

 

 

 

Guernsey

 

 

 

 

 

Prestwick

 

 

 

 

 

Heathrow

 

 

BA

 

 

Jersey

 FB

 

FB

 

 

Kerry

 

 

 

 

 

Leeds

 J

 

J

 

 

Liverpool

 

 

EJ

RA

 

London City

CJ

 

 

 

CJ

Luton

 

 

EJ

RA

 

Manchester

 

 

J

 

 

Newcastle

 

 

EJ

 

 

Newquay

 

 

 

 

 

E. Midland

 

 

 BM, EJ

RA

 

Shannon

 

 

 

 

 

Southampton

FB

 

FB

 

 

Stansted

 

 

EJ

 

RA

Waterford

 

 

 

 

 

Airport 

Avignon

Marseille

Nice

Nimes 

Heathrow Airport Guide for practical information if you are flying from Heathrow - you will find links to other major UK airports as well.


Key: 

AA-Aerarann; http://www.aerarann.ie/

AL-aerlingus; www.flyaerlingus.com

AU-Aurigny Air; www.aurigny.com 

BA-British Airways; www.britishairways.com

BM-Bmibaby; www.bmibaby.com

Cityjet; www.cityjet.com

EJ-Easyjet; www.easyjet.com

FB-Flybe; www.flybe.com

J- Jet2; www.jet2.com

RA-Ryanair; www.ryanair.com


Check the website Heathrow Airport Guide for practical information if you are flying from Heathrow. You will find links to other major UK airports here as well.


The Carbon Neutral Company

Don’t forget to consider the implications of your flight on the environment. Click here to calculate the amount of CO2 generated by your trip. You will have the option to support a project to carbon-neutralise the effect of your flight.


Carbon Neutral Company - http://www.carbonneutral.com/shop/results.asp?cat1=Flights

Friends of Conservation - http://www.foc-uk.com/calculate.asp



Airport transfers

Book your transfer online with A-T-S - transfers from the airport to the centre of Nice (EUR 7) and major destinations along the Cote d’Azur by taxi or shared minibus.



>Travelling by bus

Côte d’Azur

Central Nice is a 15 minute bus journey from Nice airport (tickets EUR 4). Buses take about 50 minutes to reach Cannes (EUR 12.40) and Monaco (EUR 14.10)



Transports Alpes-Maritimes

Antibes area - Envibus

East of Nice -  Riviera

Var region -  SODETRAV

Grasse region - Sillages


Provence

Avignon area - TCRA

Marseille area - Bus de l’Etang, Autobus aubagnais (Tel: 04 42 70 28 00)
Info: 04 42 03 24 25) RTM (bus, metro and tram in Marseille).

Aix-en-Provence area - Aix en bus The main ticket office is at Aix en Provence tourist office.

Draguinan area - Dragui-Bus (Tel: 04 94 67 44 98)




>Driving in France


Driving to South of France, Cote d'Azur & Provence

Photo by Ian Britton, www.freefoto.com


Planning your route

French government traffic information http://www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr

Up-to-date information on French motorways http://www.autoroutes.fr/en/homepage.html
Detailed route planning, maps of cities in France http://www.iti.fr

Detailed route planning including location of supermarkets, petrol stations etc https://www.bing.com/mapspreview 

Checking distances between places http://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between.htm 

 

PLANNER FOR DISTANCES (approximate mileage)

FRANCE

Caen

Calais

Cherbourg

Dieppe

Le Havre

Roscoff

St.Malo

Zeebrugge

Avignon

570

605

645

520

545

695

600

618

Dijon

335

340

420

310

315

510

405

365

Lyon

430

465

505

390

405

560

465

484

Marseille

625

660

695

590

600

755

660

670

Nice

735

760

795

685

700

860

765

767

Paris

150

180

225

115

125

360

260

191



Overnight stops

There are many inexpensive hotel chains for overnight stops, e.g. IBIS, NOVOTEL.

Bed and Breakfast France http://www.bedbreak.com
Hotels/B + B Abroad 0845 330 2500 http://www.hotelsabroad.com
Heathrow airport hotels - airport hotels guide and price comparison website. Find out about every UK airport hotel, then compare prices before you book. http://www.airport-hotels-guide.co.uk/


Car Hire

We do not arrange car hire, but experience has taught us that queues are usually shorter at the companies which do not have links with particular airlines. We usually use the website Holiday Autos when booking car hire. The disadvantage when booking on-line through an agent is that you only find out which rental company you have booked the car from when you have finished and paid for the booking, so it is difficult to avoid companies which have offered you a poor service in the past. Whichever company you use, we would urge you to check your hire car very thoroughly before you drive off - lights, windscreen wipers etc as well as bodywork - it is evident that cars are not always checked thoroughly between rentals.  (Two years ago I was given a car with an indicator bulb missing, this year it was the wiper blade from one of the windscreen wipers...)


There is a car hire comparison website just for Nice airport - Car Hire Search.co.uk



Insurance of excess

Having read some of the horror stories in the press concerning alarming excess bills for people hiring cars abroad, when we go to South of France we take out excess reimbursement insurance with Insurance4carhire.com (annual policy) Car hire companies will offer this extra insurance when renting cars, but we have found their charges relatively expensive. (According to a recent newspaper article, the average price charged for top-up insurance by car rental companies is nearly £10 per day on top of the rental charge).


We have recently heard of another company offering pre-bought excess cover - www.iCarinsurance.com which, unlike Insurance4carhire.com will cover rentals made from within 150km of your home.


An added bonus is that excess insurance with the above companies may include items not generally covered, such as tyres, windscreen and the underside of the car.


Car hire for the over 70s

Alamo / National  0116 256 5656 (both the same company) do not have an upper age limit for renting cars in South of France.



>Cycling

 Cycling in France, Cote d'Azur & Provence

Cycling in South of France allows the perfect opportunity to enjoy superb scenery, rich cultural heritage and gastronomic delights at your own pace. Road cycling is so popular in France that drivers in general have a positive attitude; they expect to find cyclists around every corner, and so are less surprised when they do come across them. In addition, amongst the extensive network of Véloroutes crossing the country, there are many ‘Voies Vertes’ (specially designated tracks which are closed to motorised traffic) to choose from for more peaceful cycling. In the past few years, mountain bikes (VTT - Vélo Tout Terrain) have become extremely popular, and there are many trails expressly for mountain bikes around the Cote d'Azur


Cycling in Provence is very popular due to dramatically beautiful scenery and the agreeable climate. North east Provence (Alpes-Maritimes, eastern Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, eastern Hautes-Alpes) is mountainous - the views are spectacular, but the cycling is more challenging. Much of the Vaucluse, the Bouches-du-Rhône and the western part of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is relatively flat, suitable for those not ready to take on the Alps.


Bicycle hire

Most towns and large villages in South of France  have bicycle shops where you can rent cycles (location velo). You can hire bicycles in railway stations, and certain sports shops, or make enquires at the local Office de Tourisme.

Many, but not all, bicycle hire shops handle bicycle repair as well. Even if parts are not carried for your brand, the repair shops are often creative, and solutions can be found to get you on the road again. Tyres and inner tubes will be French metric sizes.



Bicycles on the train


The SNCF Guide du Train et du Vélo brochure (available at all major train stations) states the following:

  • In TGV trains and on Corail coaches - You may take your cycle in the TGV luggage stacks and on the wide vestibul areas of the Corail coaches. (Corail are the long-distance main-line trains.)
  • These measures apply to cycles which can be folded up or placed with their wheels removed in special covers (120 x 90 cm maximum; 47 x 35 inches).
  • The trains marked with a bicycle symbol in the SNCF timetables fo domestic services or in the "ville àville guide carry accompanied cycles free of charge. You will have to load and unload it yourself and you are responsible for it at all times.
  • On some trains (especially regional trains) the capacity of the luggage-van is restricted to 3 cycles.
  • Cycles are allowed on all trains in the Greater Paris areas, including trains that start or terminate beyond the Greater Paris area boundaries:
    - on week-days except from 6h30 to 9h30 and 16h30-19h
    - all day on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank holidays.

It is advisable to check with the relevant station in advance when planning a train journey with a bicycle.


Some useful links:

Fédération Française de Cyclisme

Cycling in the Luberon

Cycle routes in the Var