Barcelona – Lourdes on the train

Adventure train travel! Or the Pyrenees scenic route

Map_Toulouse_Barcelona

Journey: Luz St Sauveur – Barcelona
Method: Car to Lourdes, train Lourdes – Toulouse, Toulouse – Letour de Carol, Letour de Carol – Barcelona.
Kms travelled: 534kms
Cost 4P: Petrol Luz-Lourdes (5€), Lourdes Tlse (3P, 30€), Toulouse – Latour de Carol Enveitg (4P, 40€), Enveitg – Barcelona (4P, 48€). Total 123€.
CO2 emitted: The Converging World calculator says 265kms (as the crow flies) and 48kgs on a national train for four of us (12 kgs per person). Google maps shows 504 kms so I recalculate emissions as 90kgs (22.5kgs per person).
Offset suggested: 0€.

We tested it out! After a client researching how to travel from Barcelona to Lourdes over the mountains stumbled across this article, and subsequently did the journey, I have recommended the route to a number of travellers making their way to us. I am pleased to say I can now recommend the trip with full knowledge of what it involves. We left Lourdes at 8:30am and arrived in Barcelona around 4:30pm. 8 hours total, which is similar to driving by the time you stop along the way (6 hours drive time and an hour or two to stop and stretch your legs). The trains matched up (the timetable said the train arrived in Latour de Carol at 13:39 and the Spanish timetable said the train left at 13:39) and everyone hurried the short distance down the platform from one train to the other, clearly wondering whether the driver would actually wait! They did, and we all looked secretly relieved – complicit in our doubt about making it across but no-one saying anything!

The only thing I’d warn those planning to take this route is that with the excellent timetabling and train connections you have no time to buy anything to eat, and there are no buffet cars on any of the three legs (Lourdes-Toulouse, Toulouse-Latour de Carol, Latour-Barcelona). So make sure you take some water/drinks and food with you. I had packed a bag, which my husband and son’s laughed at, but they were glad by 2pm when there was nothing else available. The 20 min change in Toulouse didn’t really give time to buy a snack.

All in all the trip was very relaxing and gave us plenty of time to look at the scenery, sleep, read, have a chat, play cards and stare into space….

The train stops at a number of stations prior to Barcelona Sans – so you can jump off, or on, closer to where you are staying. We used the phone GPS to see where we were and jumpted off at a station within walking distance to our apartment.

If you are hoping to do the whole trip through to Lourdes or Barcelona on the same day I would strongly suggest taking the earliest train. You never quite know what might happen on the way so it’s good to have a couple of hours spare up your sleeve.

For the timetable check the Catalonia Region Train Service site. Put in Barcelona-Sants to La Tor de Querol-Enveig.

For the French site check SNCF. Put in Latour de Carol to Toulouse Matabiau or Lourdes.

Latour_de_Carol_Toulouse

What I still can’t tell you about is whether there is actually anything interesting at Latour de Carol! It is close to the Pic Carlit, Font Romeu and Andorra so I suspect that a stop over for a couple of nights wouldn’t be bad at all. Something for next time…

Now to the final question – how does taking the train over the mountains compare with other methods of transport in terms of carbon emissions?

It looks like our return journey on the bus was more carbon efficient than the train over the mountains, and had there been space on the TGV that would have been even better. But even a car with four people is much much better than flying or a car alone. Clearly we will need to make these sort of calculations much more often – flying and single people driving. A carbon calculator like that of The Converging World, along with Rome2Rio and any mapping website (Google maps, Via Michelin, Mappy etc) will all help when you are deciding what is the most carbon efficient way to travel.

Next up: Lourdes – Matera on the train.