Getting to the French Pyrenees (Pau & Biarritz)

Posted on: April 21st, 2016 by Beth O'Meara

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Our tours on the French side of the Pyrenees typically start and end from mountainous Tour-de-France mainstay Pau or the seaside resort of Biarritz. To get to either destination, you have almost as many options as there are mountain peaks or sunbathers on the beach! (Note, however, that our Catalonian Pyrenees tours are best accessed from Girona and that some tours have different starting and end points.)

The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees

FLYING INTO FRANCE For the Rural and Coastal Basque Country tour, you’ll need to get to Biarritz. As with any other tour in France, you can arrive in Paris and take the train to either destination. You’ll depart from Gare Montparnasse or Gare Austerlitz ; you’ll find some direct TGV trains and some trains with connections in places like Toulouse, Tarbes, or Bordeaux. Below is a table of alternative airports in southwestern France and the airlines that serve them. Depending on your provenance, you might be able to find a great deal with a low-cost carrier. [table id=1 /]

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Group at the top of Tourmalet

DRIVING FROM THE AIRPORT From these airports, you can choose to rent a car and drive directly to your hotel. If that’s your style, here are the distances and journey durations you can expect: [table id=2 /]  

“La Grande Boucle” by Jean-Bernard Metais

TRAINS FROM THE AIRPORT Alternatively, you can choose to take a train to your destination from the station nearest your arrival airport. From the train station in Pau, it is best to take a taxi to your hotel — average fares are 30€ during the day and 35€ at night, on Sundays, and on public holidays. In Biarritz, you can easily walk from the La Négresse train station to our commonly used accommodations in 15 minutes, or you can take a 5 minute taxi ride. We’ve summed up the train journey durations and the lowest fares in the table below; both will vary depending on the time your train leaves, your connections, and even how far in advance you purchase your ticket. (They’re usually cheapest if you buy them online.) [table id=4 /]


How do you get from your arrival airport to its nearest train station? Well, you could always take a taxi (see the table in the following section) — or you could use public transportation:

  • Pau: Take the IDELIS shuttle bus to the Pau train station. The bus doesn’t run on Saturday nights, Sundays, or public holidays, at which times you’ll need to take a taxi.
  • Biarritz: Take the Chronoplus (Line C) to Biarritz-La Négresse train station, the city’s main station. The journey takes about 10 minutes and costs 1€.
  • Lourdes: Take a Maligne bus from the airport (the “Juillan” stop) on local route #2 to the Gare de Lourdes (Gare SNCF). It’ll cost you only 2€ regardless of your provenance or destination.
  • Bordeaux: Take the 30’Direct shuttle bus service to the main train station. The 30-minute ride will cost you 7.20€ one way.
  • Perpignan: Take the Shuttle Bus Line 7 (around 4.50€) to Place de Catalogne in downtown Perpignan. Cross the Cours Lazare Escarguel and take Avenue Général de Gaulle to the train station (10 min walk).
  • Carcassonne: Take the airport shuttle to the Gare SNCF in Carcassonne for 5€. Direct buses take 10 minutes, while a ride making all stops takes 25 minutes.
  • San Sebastian:
    • It’s best to take a quick taxi ride from the San Sebastian Airport to the Euskotren train station “Metro Donostialdea“, from which point you will ride to Hendaye, France. Switch from the Euskotren station to the SNCF station next door to await your connecting train.
    • Or, for 7€, take the ALSA bus from Plaza de Pio XII in San Sebastian to Biarritz (about an hour) — bikes are not allowed on international bus routes. If you want to continue on to Pau, you should take a train.

 

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The Château d’Arrico Bordes

TAXI TRANSFERS FROM THE AIRPORT Taxis are likely the most costly way to get to Biarritz or Pau from any airport besides Biarritz and Pau. Even so, this might be your preferred option — we’ll leave that decision up to you. Use the table in the driving section to estimate the kilometers you’ll travel. Start with your base fare, then add the per km fare depending on when you’re traveling. [table id=5 /] Please note that taxi drivers may add an additional charge to transport your luggage, to go to/from the airport or train station, or for a transfer of more than 4 people. Traveling from Saint-Cyprien If you’re racing the clock on the Raid Pyreneen, which starts in Biarritz, you’ll find yourself far away in Saint-Cyprien (the one in Pyrénées-Orientales with the “plage,” or beach, — not in Dordogne) when you’ve finished. The closest airports to Saint-Cyprien are Perpignan (25 km) and Carcassonne (142 km), followed by Toulouse (233 km). Please refer to the tables in the previous sections for a list of airlines. Depending on your provenance and the flights offered, you may wish to arrange a combination of one-way flights into Biarritz (or nearby) and out of an airport closer to Saint-Cyprien. (The train rides from coast to coast are very long!) Another option is to use Toulouse as your base; you could also rent a car to get between destinations. Saint-Cyprien (in Languedoc-Roussillon) lacks its own train station. To take a train to any point in France, you’ll need to take a 15-20 minute cab ride to the Perpignan train station.   If you need to get around without a car, from Hautacam, head to Argelès-Gazost, where you can find an SNCF “Autocar” (a bus) that will take you to Lourdes. From Lourdes, you can take a train wherever you need to go!  

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At the Col d’Aspin

  RESOURCES Airports

Taxis

Trains

Shuttles & Buses

 

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