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Air

Airports & Airlines

Air France (www.airfrance.com) is the national carrier, with plenty of both domestic and international flights in and out of major French airports.

Smaller provincial airports with international flights, mainly to/from the UK, continental Europe and North Africa, include Paris-Beauvais, Bergerac, Biarritz, Brest, Brive-la-Gaillarde (Vallée de la Dordogne), Caen, Carcassonne, Clermont-Ferrand, Deauville, Dinard, Grenoble, La Rochelle, Le Touquet (Côte d'Opale), Limoges, Montpellier, Nîmes, Pau, Perpignan, Poitiers, Rennes, Rodez, St-Étienne, Toulon and Tours.

Aéroport de Charles de Gaulle, Paris

Aéroport d’Orly, Paris

Aéroport de Bordeaux

Aéroport de Lille

Aéroport International Strasbourg

Aéroport Lyon-St Exupéry

Aéroport Marseille-Provence

Aéroport Montpellier

Aéroport Nantes Atlantique

Aéroport Nice-Côte d'Azur

Aéroport Toulouse-Blagnac

EuroAirport, Basel

Departure Tax

Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.

Land

Bicycle

Transporting a bicycle to France is a breeze.

On Eurotunnel Le Shuttle trains through the Channel Tunnel, the fee for a bicycle, including its rider, is from £20 one way; reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance of departure.

A bike that's been dismantled to the size of a suitcase can be carried on board a Eurostar train from London or Brussels just like any other luggage. Otherwise, there's a £40 charge and you'll need advance reservations.

On ferries, foot passengers – where allowed – can usually (but not always) bring along a bicycle for no charge.

European Bike Express transports cyclists and their bikes from the UK to places around France.

Bus

Eurolines, a grouping of 32 long-haul coach operators (including the UK's National Express), links France with cities all across Europe, Morocco and Russia. Discounts are available to people under 26 and over 60. Make advance reservations, especially in July and August.

A single Paris–London fare starts at €17, including a Channel crossing by ferry or the Channel Tunnel. Book as far ahead as possible to bag the cheapest ticket.

Flixbus (www.flixbus.com) offers low-cost, intercity bus travel between 27 countries in Europe aboard comfy buses equipped with a toilet, snacks, plug sockets to keep devices charged and free wi-fi, and runs night services too. Sample fares include €48 for a one-way Bordeaux–Annecy or Paris–Strasbourg ticket.

Car & Motorcycle

A right-hand-drive vehicle brought to France from the UK or Ireland must have deflectors affixed to the headlights to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic. In the UK, information on driving in France is available from the RAC (www.rac.co.uk/driving-abroad/france) and the AA (www.theaa.com).

A foreign motor vehicle entering France must display a sticker or licence plate identifying its country of registration.

Eurotunnel

The Channel Tunnel (Chunnel), inaugurated in 1994, is the first dry-land link between England and France since the last ice age.

High-speed Eurotunnel Le Shuttle trains whisk bicycles, motorcycles, cars and coaches in 35 minutes from Folkestone through the Channel Tunnel to Coquelles, 5km southwest of Calais. Shuttles run 24 hours a day, with up to three departures an hour during peak periods. LPG and CNG tanks are not permitted, meaning gas-powered cars and many campers and caravans have to travel by ferry.

Eurotunnel sets its fares the way budget airlines do: the further in advance you book and the lower the demand for a particular crossing, the less you pay; same-day fares can cost a small fortune. Fares for a car, including up to nine passengers, start at £30 (€37).

Train

Rail services link France with virtually every country in Europe.

  • Book tickets and get train information from Rail Europe (www.raileurope.com). In the UK contact Railteam (www.railteam.co.uk).
  • A very useful train-travel resource is the information-packed website The Man in Seat 61 (www.seat61.com).

Certain rail services between France and its continental neighbours are marketed under unique brand names:

Elipsos Luxurious, overnight 'train-hotel' from Paris to Madrid and Barcelona in Spain; book through France's SNCF.

TGV Lyria (high-speed train; www.tgv-lyria.fr) To Switzerland.

Thalys (www.thalys.com) Thalys trains pull into Paris' Gare du Nord from Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne.

Thello (www.thello.com) Overnight train service from Paris to Milan, Brescia, Verona and Venice in Italy.

Eurail Pass

Rail passes are worthwhile if you plan to clock up the kilometres.

Available only to people who don't live in Europe, the Eurail Pass (www.eurail.com) is valid in up to 21 countries, including France. People 25 and under get the best deals. Passes must be validated at a train-station ticket window before you begin your first journey.

Eurostar

The Eurostar whisks you from London to Paris in 2¼ hours.

Except late at night, trains link London (St Pancras International) with Paris (Gare du Nord; hourly), Calais (Calais-Fréthun; one hour, three daily), Lille (Gare Lille-Europe; 1½ hours, eight daily), Disneyland Resort Paris (2½ hours, one direct daily), Lyon (4¾ hours, one to five per week), Avignon (5¾ hours, one to five per week), Marseille (6½ hours, one to five per week) and Bordeaux (six hours with change of train in Paris, four daily), with less frequent services departing from Ebbsfleet and Ashford in Kent. Weekend ski trains connect England with the French Alps from late December to mid-April.

Eurostar offers a bewildering array of fares. A standard, 2nd-class single ticket from Paris to London starts at €44.

For the best deals, buy a return ticket, stay over a Saturday night, book up to 120 days in advance and don't mind non-exchangeability and non-refundability. Discount fares are available for under 26s or over 60s.

Sample Train Fares

Paris-Amsterdam

Full Fare (€)

135

Duration (hr)

Paris-Berlin

Full Fare (€)

147

Duration (hr)

8

Bordeaux-London

Full Fare (€)

87

Duration (hr)

Paris-Brussels

Full Fare (€)

115

Duration (hr)

Dijon-Milan

Full Fare (€)

131

Duration (hr)

7

Marseille-Barcelona

Full Fare (€)

100

Duration (hr)

Paris-Venice

Full Fare (€)

213

Duration (hr)

11¾

Strasbourg-Vienna

Full Fare (€)

171

Duration (hr)

Sea

Some ferry companies have started setting fares the way budget airlines do: the longer in advance you book and the lower the demand for a particular sailing, the less you pay. Seasonal demand is a crucial factor (Christmas, Easter, UK and French school holidays, and July and August are especially busy), as is the time of day (an early-evening ferry can cost much more than one at 4am). People under 25 and over 60 may qualify for discounts.

To get the best fares, check Ferry Savers (www.ferrysavers.com).

Foot passengers are not allowed on Dover–Boulogne, Dover–Dunkirk or Dover–Calais car ferries except for daytime (and, from Calais to Dover, evening) crossings run by P&O Ferries. On ferries that do allow foot passengers, taking a bicycle is usually free.

Several ferry companies ply the waters between Corsica and Italy.

International Ferry Companies

Brittany Ferries

Connection

England-Normandy, England-Brittany, Ireland-Brittany

Website

www.brittany-ferries.co.uk; www.brittanyferries.ie

Condor Ferries

Connection

England-Normandy, England-Brittany, Channel Islands-Brittany

Website

www.condorferries.co.uk

Corsica Linea

Connection

Algeria-France, Sardinia-France, Tunisia-France

Website

www.corsicalinea.com

CTN

Connection

Tunisia-France

Website

www.ctn.com.tn

DFDS Seaways

Connection

England-Normandy, England-Channel Ports

Website

www.dfdsseaways.co.uk

Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV)

Connection

Morocco-Sète (Languedoc-Roussillon)

Website

www.gnv.it

Irish Ferries

Connection

Ireland-Normandy, Ireland-Brittany

Website

www.irishferries.com

Manche Îles Express

Connection

Channel Islands-Normandy

Website

www.manche-iles.com

Norfolk Line (DFDS Seaways)

Connection

England-Channel Ports

Website

www.norfolkline.ferries.org

P&O Ferries

Connection

England-Channel Ports

Website

www.poferries.com

Stena Line Ferries

Connection

Ireland-Normandy

Website

www.stenaline.ie