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No Ryanair, no problem: Alternative travel options to get to south-west France

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James Harrington - [email protected]
No Ryanair, no problem: Alternative travel options to get to south-west France
Aerial view of Bordeaux-Merignac airport in southwest France. (Photo by Thibaud MORITZ / AFP)

As budget airline Ryanair announces the end of its Bordeaux services, we take a look at other options for getting to the south-west of France.

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The Irish budget airline Ryanair has announced that it is pulling out of Bordeaux airport after failing to agree terms with the airport over fees. Services will continue as normal over the summer and the airline will depart in November, a spokesman added.

The news will come as a blow for many people who use the airline, which offers services to around 40 European destinations, including Birmingham, Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester and Stansted.

READ ALSO Are France's loss-making regional airports under threat?

The good news is that Ryanair is not the only airline - or even the only budget airline - to serve Bordeaux. British Airways, easyJet, and Aer Lingus fly to British and Irish destinations from there, while airlines from Aegean Airlines to Vueling fly to destinations across Europe, to north Africa, Turkey, and even to Canada.

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But if none of these work, there are any other transport options for people needing to get to the south-west of France.

Planes

The south-west France is something of an airport hub with multiple airport options.

British and Irish passengers could fly instead in and out of La Rochelle, which serves Bristol, Gatwick, Cork, Dublin and Stansted for part of the year.

Limoges airport offers flights to Bristol, East Midlands, Leeds-Bradford, Manchester and Stansted.

Bergerac offers flights to Bristol, Bournemouth, East Midlands, Edinburgh, London, Liverpool, Leeds-Bradford, Southampton, and Stansted airports, while – slightly more distant – Biarritz airport serves London, Edinburgh and Dublin.

The rather larger Toulouse airport – some three hours’ drive from Bordeaux – is a regional airline hub, offering flights to hundreds of destinations. 

Trains

Bordeaux is on France’s TGV rail network. It’s between two hours and six minutes and three-and-a-half hours from the capital, depending on which train you catch.

With London and Paris also a little over two hours apart by Eurostar, rail travel between the UK and southwest France is a genuine possibility – and rail aficionados will tell you it’s a very pleasant way to travel.

READ ALSO What can I take on the Eurostar to and from France?

One problem may be getting from Gare du Nord – where the Eurostar stops – to Gare Montparnasse, on the other side of the Seine, from where the TGV to Bordeaux leaves. The journey between the two is about 30 minutes on the Metro, slightly longer by taxi, depending on the time of day. A taxi ride between the two will cost you in the region of €25.

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… and automobiles

Le Shuttle – the new name for Eurotunnel – offers numerous daily services between Folkestone and Calais, which would necessitate a near nine-hour drive from the French port to Bordeaux. But there are worse ways to spend your time than driving through the French countryside…

READ ALSO Is it worth taking a detour to avoid France's steep autoroute tolls?

Ferries

A more leisurely journey could see you take the ferry from the UK or Ireland to – for example – the Brittany port of Roscoff, and then drive seven hours to Bordeaux. It’s about five hours to Saint-Malo, for UK-based travellers who prefer to take the ferry there.

The Spanish ports of Bilbao or Santander are other possible options from either UK or Irish ports. 

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