How: Transport

Transport to and in the Pyrenees

think globally act locallyThe 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 atcw_carbon_footprint_0re 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 ferry, and offset all your travel. This article from the Guardian gives some background to carbon offsetting.

We strongly encourage you to contribute to your usual carbon offset scheme, or to contribute to The Converging World, using their carbon calculator below. The process is in two parts – first you calculate your journey’s carbon emission and then you make a donation to their programs.

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 from Lourdes to Luz and the bus timetable can be found here for the Kéolis service (or scroll down on this page) organised by SNCF and here for the Maligne buses organised by the Hautes-Pyrenees department (click on the timetable for Maligne des Gaves).

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!

MountainGo is a car sharing website dedicated to mountains and the outdoor. Worth a try I think.

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 for details of 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. In summer the Maligne des Gaves service stops regularly at the airport for transfers to Lourdes station all year.

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.

Pyrenees Direct flies from London Stansted, 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 Tarbes with Lourdes airport and Lourdes train station every half an hour. It continues further up the valley (to Soulom) a couple of times per day and up to Luz each week day during term time.

Depart Lourdes train station: 16:58, Arrives Luz Tourist Office: 18:00
Depart Luz Tourist Office: 7:25, Arrives Lourdes train station: 8:17

¤ During the winter months there is an airport shuttle meeting the Ryan Air flights from Stansted and the HOP! flight from Paris. Information here. Hotel Les Templiers is 3 mins walk from the bus stop at the Luz Tourist Office.

¤ The Kéolis service runs from Lourdes train station and the current timetable is as follow:

Bus_Lourdes_Luz

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.

Bus_Luz_Lourdes

Local Bus Network

When 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 great). The Maligne bus service also links Tarbes and Lourdes with Luz and Gavarnie every summer. The timetable is below.

Gavarnie_bus_ete_2018

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!

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.

Climate Change and Winter Sports

logo_mountainridersThe French Mountain Riders Association (of which we are a member), like the American Association Protect Our Winters (and its UK offshoot), work to raise awareness of climate change in the skiing and outdoor sports communities. Join up, support their projects, jump into action if you can… It’s all good. The following piste map from POW helps to think about how we can change our own actions and then go on to influence others…

POW-pistemap-actions