coach services in France
visitors are sometimes surprised to learn that France - unlike the UK,
the USA, Spain or many other countries - does not (yet) have a coordinated
intercity express bus or long-distance coach network. There is no
French equivalent of Greyhound buses or National Express. Most
medium-distance bus services are operated by the railway company SNCF,
as part of public regional transport networks (TER): but there is very
little in the way of inter-regional coach services.
TER bus operated by the SNCF in the framework of regional public
For instance, to
travel from Paris to Montpellier or Bordeaux, the natural
reflex in France - for those not wanting to drive, students, young
people, the elderly etc. - is to take
the train, not the bus. There are plenty of cheap offers on
the trains, and it is so much faster !
This is not to say that there are no bus or coach services in
France; international services with destinations in France are run by a
number of companies, the most important of these being Eurolines
which links several towns and cities in France (such as Paris, Lyons,
Tours, etc.) with major cities in other European countries.
changing scene for
coach travel in France
2011, Eurolines have been able to offer a limited number of domestic
tickets on their international services to from or through France. Thus
they can, for example, offer tickets from Bordeaux to Paris on
coaches operating on their Bordeaux-Hamburg service, or
from Nice to Pau on their Nice-Faro (Portugal) service.
this is going to change: a bill has gone through the
French parliament to liberalize coach services in France. Eurolines
have already announced plans to open up some 40 domestic routes, and
other companies are getting ready too. Watch this
Within France, coach services tend to exist only on a regional
most French cities have an "autogare" or a "gare routière" -
station - with regular services within the region, and sometimes
further afield. Bus services most frequently cover routes for which
there is no train service, and are sometimes run by or for the SNCF,
French railway operator. These services appear in the railway
timetable, and cost the same as trains.
One region with good and extensive intercity coach services is
(PACA) region, with routes linking Marseilles, Avignon,
Nice, Briancon and other cities. Further information on services in
this region is available on Info-LER website.
Links to services in other regions can be found on the France-week-end.com
website, though this is in French and the information is not always
very easy to find.
The reason for the lack of intercity coach services in France is not
hard to explain; it is simply that the train services are generally
good, fast, and not expensive | specially services to and from Paris;
and with all sorts of discounts available for frequent travellers,
over-60's, couples, families and students, people use the trains.
Urban bus services
in French cities
most, if not all, French cities, urban bus services are provided at a
flat-rate charge for individual journeys. Just buy a ticket from the
driver when you get in. It will not normally cost more than a Euro -
maybe as little as 20 cents, it depends on the town - and will be valid
for one journey or one hour's travel. Many cities have bus services
that operate well out into the suburbs or even the country. For
instance, in Nice, a city bus ticket will get you out to Villefranche
Many towns offer season tickets or passes on
their bus services, though these are generally designed for residents,
including students, are nominal, and require a photo.
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