How: Transport

Transport to and in the Pyrenees

think globally act locallyThe Mountain Riders association calculates that 57% of CO2 emitted during a winter ski holiday is simply the transport to the mountains and during the stay. The maintaining of the skiing area accounts for only 2% (piste grooming, snowmaking, chairlifts) while the maintenance of roads and carparks accounts for 6%. Accommodation and tertiary services (restaurants and tourist activities) account for a combined 27%. For a summer walking holiday the percentage associated with travel to and from your destination is likely to be even higher as there is no heating of accommodation, restaurants etc. 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 57% of emissions are due simply to your chosen method of transport then it is important that you consider it. We therefore urge you to take the train, or car share, or take the ferry, and offset your travel. See our page discussing carbon emissions and tourism.

TGV, Train & Bus

Train_TGV_drawing2The Lourdes train station is 30 mins from Luz St Sauveur so the train is an excellent option for reaching us. The SNCF website functions in many languages – just choose what is easiest for you in the top right corner and see prices and timetables. From Paris count just under 5 hours on the TGV via Bordeaux.

There are buses linking Lourdes train station with Luz St Sauveur (see times below). In winter only there are shuttle buses linked Lourdes airport with Luz St Sauveur. In summer there are some buses leaving the airport and coming straight through to Luz but most likely you’ll need one bus to the train station in Lourdes and then another up to Luz.

Sadly the night train no longer comes regularly to Lourdes, but is every night to Toulouse – you can then change for Lourdes so arrive around 9am in Lourdes generally. Essentially this means 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… Art of Travel

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.

As the popular philosopher 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-290x48 Bla Bla Car is an easy way of finding people heading in the same direction and who are happy to drive you there for a contribution to the petrol/toll costs. It is 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, Bristol, Edinburgh, Manchester and all manner of European cities (Porto, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Athens, etc etc).

See here to reserve the shuttle bus meeting the RyanAir flight into Lourdes airport and coming straight to Luz (in winter only). There are also connecting buses for the HOP! flights from Paris. All year there are buses about every hour between Lourdes airport and train station.

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) to Lourdes.

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, social development and forest regeneration projects in India, as well as carbon reduction in the UK. Use their calculator (above) to work out a suitable donation.

Local Bus Network

The local bus network not only transports you to Luz but you can use it 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 great). The Maligne bus service also links Tarbes and Lourdes with Luz and Gavarnie in winter school holidays and summer. The timetable is below.

Lourdes SNCF: 8:45, 10:40, 12:25, 15:15, 16:52 on school days or 17:12 on weekends and school holidays. Arrives in Luz 55 mins later, and Barèges 10 mins after that. You need to change at Pierrefitte which just involves hopping off one bus and on to the bus waiting next to it.

Luz Tourist Office: 7:25, 10:25, 12:20, 15:10, 16:40 (or 17:15 on weekends and school holidays). Leaves Barèges 10 mins earlier than these times and arrives in Lourdes 55 mins later. You need to change at Pierrefitte which just involves hopping off one bus and on to the bus waiting next to it.

Luz TO – Gavarnie: 9:41, 13:09. Arrives in Gavarnie 25 mins later. Runs in winter school hols + 6 June – 31 Aug 2020.

Gavarnie – Luz TO: 11:40, 17:30. Arrives in Luz 25 mins later. Runs in winter school hols + 6 June – 31 Aug 2020.

For places where no buses go, or to Gavarnie outside the season, our local taxi driver is always an option. He will drive you half way up a mountain so you can walk up the rest! We are happy to coordinate with him.

Car Hire Lourdes Train Station

If you would prefer the flexibility of a car while you are here then arriving by train to Lourdes and then hiring a car from the station is definitely more CO2 friendly than driving from your home (unless you have a fuel efficient car 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.