How: Transport

Transport to and in the Pyrenees

logo_mountainridersThe Mountain Riders association calculates that 75% of CO2 emitted during a winter ski holiday is simply the transport to the mountains (generally car or plane). For a summer walking holiday this percentage is even higher as there is no heating or ski lifts to make up the other 25%. So how you travel to your holiday destination is actually the most important factor to consider if you are aiming for a low carbon holiday. We do everything we can to reduce our carbon emissions and our overall environmental impact, but if at least 75% of emissions are due simply to your chosen method of transport then we cannot make any significant difference on our own. We therefore urge you to take the train, or car share, or take the tcw_carbon_footprint_0ferry, and offset all your travel. This article from the Guardian gives some background to carbon offsetting. See The Converging World’s carbon calculator for an indication of the carbon output of your journey.

TGV, Train & Bus

Train_TGV_drawing2Luz St Sauveur is accessible by SNCF bus from Lourdes (55 mins) so getting to us via train and bus is an excellent option.  The bus timetable is now found here, and there are both SNCF and Maligne buses on this site.  The TGVEurope (Voyages-SNCF) website provides good information on train timetables and prices (you can buy tickets up to 3 months in advance). RailEurope also has prices and information, and a more user friendly site (where you can buy tickets 4 months in advance), as does Loco2.  Sadly the night train no longer comes regularly to Lourdes, but is every night to Toulouse – you then change for Lourdes so arrive around 9am in Lourdes generally. You can leave London at 7pm and arrive in Lourdes at 9am, or leave Lourdes around 6:30pm, have dinner in Toulouse and take the night train around 10:30pm for Paris. You arrive in London around 10am the next day. You gain a day for exploring on either end of your trip and taking the night train really does make you feel as if you are on a great journey. The Gare d’Austerlitz is well organised for night train departures (good bathroom facilities and shops open late etc) and the rocking along of the train is a very nice way to fall asleep… On the day Art of Traveltrain the TGV takes just under 5 hours from Paris to Lourdes. A good RER and metro map for Paris can be found here. If you arrive in at Roissy Charles de Gaulle then you can catch the RER B to Denfert Rochereau, the Metro line 4 or 6 to Montparnasse. Or book the TGV directly to Bordeaux from Charles de Gaulle, then change in Bordeaux for Lourdes. For lots more practical information on rail travel see Seat61 or Rome2Rio.

The train is even supported by philosophers: Alain de Botton says in The Art of Travel, “Of all modes of transport, the train is perhaps the best aid to thought….  At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel that we have been returned to ourselves.”  So take the train and start your holiday “train-dreaming” rather than airport stressing! More discussion of the advantages of slow travelling here.

Car Sharing

blablacar-logo-290x48The site Bla Bla Car is an easy way of finding people going to the same place you are and who are happy to drive you there for a contribution to the petrol/toll costs. A great way to improve your French and to travel cheaply and more carbon efficiently through France. On average a bus consumes 50L/100kms and a car about 5L/100kms. So a full car (5P) is the same efficiency as a full bus (50P). Filling cars is an excellent way of reducing carbon emissions and the French are car sharing champions with everyone from all walks of life adopting this practice!

Plane

If from your area the plane is the only convenient way to get to us then there are flights into Lourdes from Stansted (see disclaimer!) and Toulouse from Gatwick.

See here for details of the shuttle bus meeting the RyanAir flight into Lourdes airport and coming straight to Luz.

Again SNCF trains will get you from Toulouse (there is an airport shuttle connecting the airport and the train station), Pau or Biarritz (you’ll need to catch a cab into the station from the last two) into Lourdes.

There is also a Paris-Lourdes flight with HOP! This is also met directly by shuttle buses in winter straight to Luz (see here for details)

Pyrenees Direct flies from Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham to Lourdes over the summer. Check their page for details.

If you are flying or catching the ferry you can compensate for your carbon emissions by donating to The Converging World which funds renewable energy and social development projects in the third world, as well as carbon reduction in the UK. Use their calculator (above) to work out a suitable donation.

Connecting Buses Lourdes – Luz

The Maligne bus service links the Lourdes airport with Lourdes itself every half an hour. It continues further up the valley (to Luz) a couple of times per day. It is the line Tarbes-Lourdes-Pierrefitte-Luz-Barèges.

As stated above, there is a shuttle all winter meeting the Ryan Air flights from Stanstead on Tuesday and Saturday and the HOP! flight from Paris. Information here. Hotel Les Templiers is 3 mins walk from the bus stop.

The Kéolis service runs in tandem with SNCF (the train) and the current timetable is as follows (valid until 09/12/17):

Buses from Lourdes to Luz

Leave Lourdes every day at 8:45, 11:00, 12:40, 15:00, 16:50. They arrive in Luz 55 mins later. You need to change at Pierrefitte, which just involves hopping off one bus and onto the bus that is waiting next to it (which will say Barèges). The bus continues to Barèges from Luz and takes 10 mins extra.

Buses from Luz to Lourdes

Leave Luz every day at 7:30, 10:00, 12:15, 15:10, 17:00, and leave Barèges 10 mins earlier.

think globally act locallyWhen you arrive in Luz you can also use this local bus network to get around and access a huge range of walks and sites (see our Eco Independent Walks package).  The SNCF bus network stops everywhere between Lourdes and Barèges and you can reach Cauterets by changing at Pierrefitte-Nestalas (although not great for a day trip as the connections are not good). The Maligne (click for timetable) bus service links Tarbes with Luz and Gavarnie (until the 9th Sept).  For places where no buses go, or to Gavarnie outside the season there is our local taxi driver, who will drive you half way up a mountain so you can walk up the rest.

If you would prefer the flexibility of a car while you are here then arriving by train and hiring a car is definitely more CO2 friendly than driving from your home (unless you have a fuel efficient car that with 3-4 people in it). Avis hire cars have an office at Lourdes train station. Another preferable option is taking the ferry to Bilbao or Santander, which provide great possibilities for whale spotting. Brittany Ferries have recently updated their fleet to be more fuel efficient and their environmental policy is here.