Getting To & From the Pyrenean Classic Cols
Start & End Points
Hotel Terminus, Ave de la Cote d’Argent, 09100 Ax les Thermes. France. Tel: 0033 (0)5 61 64 20 55
Hotel Soleil Levant, Ave de les Pyrenees, 65400 Argeles Gazost. France. Tel: 0033 (0)5 62 97 08 68
We offer included airport transfers to and from Toulouse Airport at the start and end of this holiday and there are a wide range of flights available to and from UK regional airports – see the trip Essential Information pdf for all the details.
For clients flying from far flung destinations you might want to look at travel:
Via London: Fly transcontinental in / out of London (Gatwick/Heathrow or Stansted) and meet up with one of the ‘group flights’ to take advantage of our airport transfers. For information on journey time times, how to book tickets and other general information on travel in London have a look at londontoolkit.com .
Via Barcelona: Fly transcontinental in / out of Barcelona which has connecting flights to San Sebastian Airport (in Irun and 10 mins taxi ride from our hotel) with Air Nostrum or Vueling. Alternatively there are direct trains from Barcelona Sants station to Irun (6 hrs). Depending on when you arrive, we may be able to pick you up, otherwise it is a 10 mins taxi to the Hotel. At the end of the trip you would need to travel to Barcelona by train from Cerbere / Portbou (2 hrs 30 mins) – see below for more information on this.
Via Paris: Fly transcontinental in / out of Paris. Most international flights land in Paris CDG. If you needed to get to Paris Orly airport, then there is shuttle bus between that takes about 1 hr. Full information on this transfer can be found on the Paris.net website. Air France charge 40 Euros for bike carriage to / from another European country and 20 Euros for flights within France. Internal flights are available from CDG & Orly to Toulouse with EJ and Air France. You can then take advantage of our Toulouse Transfer Package . If you flights arrives in Toulouse a long time before or later than our transfers then you easily get to Hendaye independently by train (although it takes a long time so you would be better taking the train direct from Paris.
There are a few Air France flights per day direct from Paris Orly to Biarritz and Perpignan to Paris Orly.
Getting Independently from Toulouse Airport to Hotel Terminus (Ax-les-Thermes)
By Train: This easy journey generally takes 2.5 hours and costs about 25 Euros each way.
1. Take the Navette (shuttle bus) that leaves from just outside the arrival hall of the Airport to the railway station in Toulouse. The bus departs every 20 mins and takes 20 mins. You pay for your ticket in the booth opposite the bus stop (5 Euros). The railway station (Toulouse Matabiau) is the final stop.
2. Take the train from Toulouse direct to Ax les Thermes (on the line to Latour de Carol). There are then trains every hour (except at lunch time) and the journey takes about 2hrs and costs 17 Euros. The final train of the day leaves Toulouse at about 2015. Have a look at SNCF website for the latest timetable.
3. Exit the station at Ax les Thermes and you will see the Hotel Terminus diagonally opposite, across the road and next to the river.
By Hire Car:
The Hotel Terminus has private car parking available in an uncovered car park next to the hotel, which is locked at night. If you are bringing a car and wish to park it during the week at the Hotel, please let us know so we can inform the hotel.
Overnight stay in Toulouse
You may like to fly into Toulouse the day before your trip starts, or spend an extra night there at the end of your holiday. Toulouse is France’s fourth largest metropolis and not only has a rich architectural heritage, but the intellectual vibe that comes from being at the heart of Europe’s aerospace industry and space programme. The ‘Ville Rose’ has a Mediterranean feel about it with tree lined boulevards and street cafes; it is certainly worth a visit. For more information on what to do in the city have a look at this City Guide (external website)
There is a wide range of accommodation available in Toulouse, to suit every budget and every location (proximity to airport, station, town centre etc). We are not able to make hotel bookings for you for any extra nights, and unfortunately do not know the hotels well enough to feel that we can make recommendations about where to stay.
Independent Travel from Carcassonne Airport to Ax-les-Thermes
There are no airport transfers to or from Carcassonne Airport but it is a popular airport as Ryan Air offer cost effective flights in / out. It is possible to get from Carcassonne Airport to the Start Hotel by train. This is a relatively simple journey that generally takes 3.5 hours and costs approx 38 Euros 1 way.
1. Take the Navette (shuttle bus) that waits by the steps of the airport for every flight (it does not depart till all bags have been picked up from the carousel). Carcassonne railway station is the first stop and the 15min journey costs 5 Euros.
2. Take the direct train from Carcassonne to Toulouse Matabiou station. There are trains approx every 30mins and the journey takes about an hour and costs approx 16 Euros.
3. From here you can either: Take the Navette airport (shuttle bus) to Toulouse Airport to join the group transfer. The bus leaves from the Gare Routiere (bus station) which is next door to Toulouse train station (exit station and turn R). A bus departs every 20 mins and the journey takes 20mins. Pay on the bus (cost 5 Euros). The bus will leave you at Arrivals. Go from here to meet the Marmot Tours group transfer if arranged, for a lift to Ax les Thermes
Take the train direct from Toulouse Matabiou station to Ax les Thermes (see the section above on travel from Toulouse to Ax). Please go to the SNCF website for an up-to-date timetable.
Overnight stay in Carcassonne
Carcassonne is a very interesting fortified city and it is well worth a visit. We get a lot of clients extending their holiday by spending a night or two exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site. For more information on what to do in the city have a look at this City Guide (external website)
There is a very wide choice of accommodation available in Carcassonne for every budget and every location (proximity to airport, station, town centre etc). Unfortunately we are not able to book you into any accommodation before or after your trip, and do not know the hotels well enough to make a recommendation on where to stay.
Independent Travel from Barcelona Airport to Ax-les-Thermes
Airlines flying direct from the UK to Barcelona Airport: British Airways, EasyJet, FlyGlobespan, Fly Monarch, BMI baby, Jet 2. There are many indirect flights available via London.
From Barcelona Airport, you will need to make your way independently to Ax les Thermes by car (hire car), or by train.
By Train: to the Hotel Terminus from Barcelona Airport (takes 5 hours, Costs approx 20€ 1 way)
1. It is best to take the RENFE train (line 10) from Barcelona airport direct to Barcelona Sants (3rd stop). This service runs at least every 15 mins and takes about 20 mins, costing 2.50 Euros.
2. From Sants there are trains to the French border at La Tor de Querol via Vic, which take just over 3 hours and cost about 10 Euros. The line gauge changes at La Tour de Carol (which also becomes Latour-de-Carol) so you need to change to a French train operated by SNCF.
3. From Latour-de-Carol, take a direct trains to Ax-les-Thermes. There are trains approx every 2 hours and the journey takes 1 hr, costing 6.90 Euros. Once at Ax les Thermes, the Hotel Terminus can be found across the road, and next to the river, diagonally opposite the train station.
We have found the DB rail (German rail network) website is actually the easiest way of finding the timetable for this journey. Alternatively please use the RENFE (Spain) and the SNCF (France) websites for an up-to-date timetable. Please note that both of these websites are not obvious to use. On the RENFE site you need to choose the Commuter Trains section, then the area of Barcelona, before you can enter your Barcelona Sants departure station and pick the La Tor de Querol arrival station! The French side of the journey is more obvious on the SNCF site…
Overnight stay in Barcelona
Barcelona is a very vibrant Catalonian city and needs no introduction. Its mixture of art, culture and history make it an interesting place to spend a few days either before or after your holiday. For more information on what to do in the city have a look at this City Guide (external website).
There is a very wide choice of accommodation available in Barcelona for every budget and every location (proximity to airport, station, town centre etc). Unfortunately we are not able to book you into any accommodation before or after your trip, and do not know the hotels well enough to make a recommendation on where to stay.
Argeles Gazost to Toulouse Airport (End of Holiday)
Argeles Gazost does not have a train station, but is only 30 mins drive to Lourdes, which is on the Main line between Bayonne and Toulouse. Please email us to find out if we can help you with a lift to the station.
There are regular trains from Lourdes to Toulouse Matabiau Station. It is a journey of about 2 hrs and cost about 20€. On arrival in Toulouse leave the train station via the main entrance, turn right and head for the Bus Station (Gare Routiere), which is about 200m from the train station. From here there are buses every 20 mins to the Airport (cost 5 Euros), a journey of 20 to 30 mins.
Travel by Train
As mentioned above, the start, Hotel Terminus in Ax-Les-Thermes, is opposite the railway station, making this a very straight forward journey from London. As well as the day time trains, there are sleeper trains from Paris direct to Ax-Les-Thermes. These can be easily linked with the Eurostar services from London to Paris. The journey takes about 12hrs in total, but some people choose to extend this with a night in Paris.
1. Catch the Eurostar train from London St Pancras International to Paris Nord (or Lille, in which case goto step 3).
2. Take the underground from Paris Nord to Paris Austerlitz. This is a few stops on the same train and takes about 30 to 45 mins.
3. Take a train direct to Ax-les-Thermes on the line to Latour de Carol (NB some services change at Toulouse).
4. On arrival in Ax you will see the Hotel Terminus directly opposite the train station, next to the river.
We recommend that you look at The Man in Seat Sixty-One , which is full of advice and links about rail travel. Rail Europe have produced an excellent interactive map of all the Rail links in Europe, but it is currently not easy to find timetables on their website. For timetable information we suggest DB Rail website (German Rail network in English) – it is currently not possible to purchase tickets from their website, but you can give them a ring once you have worked out which train you want to travel on! Alternatively, tickets can be purchased by ringing Rail Europe on 08708 371 371 (UK number)
NB: – Timetables and ticket purchases are only available 3 months before travel- If you buy your tickets exactly 3 months before travel you can get some good deals so it is worth being organised.
On the train with a bike
The French rail network (SNCF) are trying to promote travel with a bike and have put together an excellent website – VeloSNCF ( external site in French but still useful!. Basically if your bike is in a bag or box it is fine to take on a train. If it is simply as a bike, then you normally need to book it a place and pay a nominal charge – have a look at the links on the VeloSNCF. If you are traveling from the UK with a bike, try to change trains in Lille as opposed to Paris (in Lille you only need to change platforms, in Paris you normally need to take a short underground journey).
Overnight sleeper from Paris
If you are short of time and a good at sleeping then the overnight sleeper is a good option. The sleeper train departs Paris Austerlitz at about 22:00 and gets into Ax-les-Therms at 06:45. If arranged in advance, we can ask the Hotel Terminus to open up for you and for breakfast to be served. In low season it is very likely that you will be able to go direct to your room, but the worst case scenario is that you may need to wait until 09:00 for one to become available.
The return sleeper train departs from TLS at 21:20 and gets into Paris Austerlitz at 07:20.
Note: We have had comments from clients in the past that Rail Europe could not find details of this journey on their system! It does exist – we suggest you ring DB rail first off to avoid any frustration!
Despite the logistical challenge of driving for a ‘point to point holiday’, driving from the UK can be a great way of extending your holiday and saving the hassle of packing up your bike, plus ensuring its safe arrival. You have the option of Driving to Toulouse Airport and leaving your car in a secure car park (P5 or P6 cost about 30€ for a week). You can then hook up with our Toulouse Airport Transfers . We can transport assembled bikes.