france
getting there


PLANNING A VISIT to France can be a time-consuming and frustrating business. But it doesn't need to be...patience and forethought will resolve virtually all problems that might be encountered. 

Here are some things you might like to consider, whether you are travelling by air, sea, rail or road.


© Paris Tourist Office - Photographer : Amélie Dupont


By Air
The main centre of air travel is Paris, which has two airports (Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle to the north, and Orly to the south). Most North American airlines fly to Paris only, but France‘s regional airports are well connected to both the Parisian airports and to each other. Many have several flights a day to Paris.

Visitors arriving in Paris who wish to reach the city centre or a train station may use public transportation or reserve space on the Airport Shuttle (for Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle Tel: 01 45 38 55 72, for Orly Tel: 01 43 21 06 78).

Visitors from the UK will find that many airlines also operate services to Nice, Lyon and Marseille, as well as other provincial cities, including Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Clermont-Ferrand, Mulhouse, Nantes, Toulouse, Montpellier, Perpignan and Nîmes.

Airport transfer services
You can get from CDG airport into the centre of Paris by using the RoissybusLeader Shuttle, or by using a taxi, which is much more convenient, but hugely more expensive.




© Brittany Ferries


BE FERRY-WISE: READ BEFORE YOU DECIDE

By Sea
There are numerous cross-Channel services (passenger and car ferries) from the UK and Ireland.

Brittany Ferries. Tel: 0871 244 0744 (in the UK), 825 828 828 (in France), www.brittanyferries.co.uk. Services from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth.

Condor Ferries. Tel: 01202 207216 and 0345 609 1024 (reservations), www.condorferries.co.uk. Services from Weymouth, Poole and Portsmouth.

DFDS Seaways operate routes between Dover and Calais; Dover-Dunkerque; Portsmouth-Le Havre and Newhaven-Dieppe. Tel: (UK) 0871 574 7235 for Dover routes, and (UK) 0800 917 1291 for Portsmouth and Newhaven routes; www.dfdsseaways.co.uk.

P & O Ferries. Tel: 0800 130 0030 (UK dialling), or 0825 120 156 (in France). www.poferries.com. Service between Dover and Calais, and from Ireland.




By Rail
All rail services throughout France can be arranged through VoyagesSNCF (formerly RailEurope) in the UK:

Online (uk.voyages-sncf.com/en; Facebook.com/VoyagesSncf.uk; www.twitter.com/VoyagesSncf_UK)

Telephone: 0844 848 5848, or call into the 
Voyages SNCF Travel Centre, 193 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EU 

VoyagesSNCF (see below) can also book Eurostar travel.

Eurostar runs from London (St Pancras) to Paris (Gare du Nord) in under 3hr (up to 20 times daily). In Paris it links to the high-speed rail network (TGV) which covers most of France.

Bookings and information Tel: 08705 186 186 (£3 credit card booking fee applies) in the UK, www.eurostar.com. Citizens of non-European Economic Area countries will need to complete a landing card before arriving at Eurostar check-in. These can be found at dedicated desks in front of the check-in area and from Eurostar staff. Once you have filled in the card please hand it to UK immigration staff. 

Eurailpass, Flexipass, Eurailpass Youth, EurailDrive Pass and Saverpass are travel passes which may be purchased by residents of countries outside the European Union.

VoyagesSNCF

The times that show up on the VoyagesSNCF system are those that are loaded into the main European booking system by SNCF. This is definitely the case for direct trains. Sometimes when a connection is required, the website will return only the two services that offer the best connection rather than all possible combinations. This has to happen due to the huge number of possibilities that exist when looking at two different services.

To find all options available for a multi-train journey, you need to split the journey into shorter legs and search for each leg independently of each other. That would allow you to build your own itinerary.

Please note: an £8 booking fee is applied to bookings made via the Call Centre and the London Travel Centre, and this is well worth it, since the centre can help you considerably. There is no booking fee when you book via the website.

VoyagesSNCF ticket prices are those provided by the carriers and the company simply apply a standard exchange rate to convert them from Euros to Sterling. There’s no mark up on the tickets at all.

If someone has a complex itinerary it is best to make the booking via the Call Centre, as the agents are trained to build the best schedule at the best fares for the customer. They can also make specific requests such as seating requirements by booking via the centre.

With over 100 years’ experience in European rail travel, VoyagesSNCF is able to assist travellers in planning their journey, from a simple cross Channel trip to longer more involved routes. The company offers a number of ticketing solutions in addition to traditional paper tickets. Collect at the station and print at home options allow increased flexibility to book tickets up to the time of departure.

European rail travel is constantly developing as governments continue to place more emphasis on developing high speed networks. These offer a low carbon, comfortable and efficient way to travel between major cities, regional towns and smaller villages for both business and leisure travellers. Through excellent relationships with European train operators and its parent company SNCF, Rail Europe remains at the forefront of promoting and selling European services to the UK market.




By road

Eurotunnel
This is the fastest way across the English Channel. Drive straight onto a rail shuttle that travels through the Channel Tunnel between the M20 near Folkestone (junction 11A) and the A16 near Calais (junction 42). Tel: 08705 35 35 35; (reservations – UK only); Tel: 0810 63 03 04 (from France); www.eurotunnel.com).

By Coach/Bus
Eurolines, together with National Express, operate regular services between all parts of the UK and towns throughout France. The main UK terminus is Victoria Coach Station, in central London.

Eurolines (National Express), 4 Cardiff Road, Luton, Bedfordshire LU1, 1PP. Tel: 0871 78 81 81 78; www.eurolines.com.

By Car
France has an excellent network of major and minor roads covering long distances, including autoroutes – motorways or major highways, often with a toll to pay. Note that when entering the country at a land border, you may already be driving on an autoroute. After a short free section, a toll may be payable.


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visiting from the us?

If you are travelling to France from the US, then Jeff Steiner's 'Americans in France' website is an invaluable resource, containing a wide range of interesting and useful information.


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