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Barcelona to South of France - Train or Flight?

Barcelona to South of France - Train or Flight?

Jan 8th, 2013, 06:15 AM
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Barcelona to South of France - Train or Flight?


My husband and I are travelling from Barcelona to the South of France in May. I have checked the prices of flights ($129 USD for 2 tickets to Marseille, 1 hr), and the prices of trains ($114 USD for 2 tickets to Monpellier, 3 hrs). I was shocked to see that the prices are so comparable. I would be quite happy to take the train even though it takes a little longer, if it is a scenic route. If not, I would prefer to save the time. Does anyone have any recommendations? Is it worth taking the train?

lsmith31 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 06:20 AM
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I'd take the train just to avoid the time wasted at the airport and the taxi ride to and from. The 3-hour train ride is much better, city center to city center.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 06:39 AM
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I agree. The train would be faster all considered. It's been a long time since I did that train route ( did a few times about 20 years ago Geneva - Barcelona via Montpellier). I don't remember well but still think the view is quite scenic at least in parts. Also there is no limit of lugggage on the train, as much as you can carry. And you can bring on food and a bottle of wine for a nice lunch....
kappa1 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 06:59 AM
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And the train is rather scenic if you have not been to France - all of France IMO is scenic - the ubiquitous small villages in the distance all lovingly puncuated by church steeples - on this route you skirt thru Burgundy and its bucolic vineyard-laced hills and thru the rather stark countryside of Provence.

And as for costs the $129 for two plane tickets to that must be added the cost of getting to and from the airport - and timwise trains are about the same - no long pre-check-in time and planes can always be late - TGV trains rarely.

$114 for two people is a great deal on the trains - those must be the limited in number tickets that should be booked as early as possible before they sell out (if you have not checked www.voyages-sncf.com or www.idTGV.com check those sites as well).
And for lots of great info on French trains check out these superb sites - www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

Just curious as to where or how you found the $114 fare for two people - seems a great deal - normal fare is much much higher. You could obviously get off the Montpellier train at say Arles and spend less time on the train in case you just want to get to southern France - or at Avignon TGV station and pick up your car there.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 07:03 AM
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What is the destination in France? If it is Montpellier, then it is still quite a trek from Marseille. So are you saying:

train = taxi(?) to Barcelona Sants station + AVE to Figures + TGV to Montepellier + taxi(?) to your hotel in Montepellier

takes more time than:

airplane = taxi(?) to Barcelona El Prat airport + check-in then wait + fly + wait to retrieve luggage + train/drive from Marseille airport to Montpellier?
greg is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 07:26 AM
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Thanks all for your feedback. The train is sounding like the preferred route.

PalenQ - As ticket sales don't appear to open for May this far in advance, I checked the ticket cost using a date in March (using www.voyages-sncf.com). I take it that this is a fair warning that I can expect the costs to be higher when I check the dates in May? Are you aware of any sites that let you book train travel between Spain and France earlier in advance?

Greg - Our destination is a country inn in Eyragues. So we are open to arriving in Montpellier, Arles, Avignon or Marseille - we would rent a car from any of these destinations to get to our inn. Montpellier seemed to be the easiest train connection but I am open to any other suggestions you may have...

Many thanks!
lsmith31 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 07:32 AM
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Correction - I found the $114 fare on raileurope.com
lsmith31 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 07:56 AM
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The new AVE train line is up and running in Spain.
Barcelona to Figueres in 55 minutes.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 08:03 AM
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You can book Barcelona to France at http://www.renfe.com/EN/viajeros/via...les/index.html

€20.20 for Barcelona to Figueres, from €19 for Figueres to Montpelier, one person.

Of course, that assumes it accepts your credit card at the end, it does mine.
Man_in_seat_61 is online now  
Jan 8th, 2013, 08:04 AM
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$114 for 2 on raileurope.com and everyone here says RailEurope is a ripoff? If that is for 2 people it is a great great fare and you should hop on it as those discounted seats are in limited supply and can sell out quickly. For any RailEurope product I always use Byron at www.budgeteuropetravel.com because he's an expert you can talk to - I've bought railpasses from him for years - very helpful and works thru RailEurope - www.ricksteves.com also has good service and is a RailEurope agent - talking to anyone at RailEurope if you have questions is hard - but again if for two people and not per person that is a great fare.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 08:06 AM
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Oh Man in Seat 61 who posts above his commercial site www.seat61.com also has a commercial link to RailEurope.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 09:27 AM
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You obviously can't book that trip because it isn't for the period you want, it is in March. They may have fares around that for May, you can't tell as it really varies a lot based on time of day, day of week, whether a holiday, etc and obviously class of car and how far in advance. But that is a good fare, that's for sure.

The French railroad doesn't sell tickets that far in advance so nobody else can, either,, if they don't as anyone else is just selling you a ticket on their railroad.
Christina is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 10:32 AM
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There is no need to change train in Figueres when there is a direct and fast train between Barcelona and Montpellier.
Departure Barcelona 4.42 pm
Arrival Montpellier 9.14 pm
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 01:05 PM
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That's the old Talgo train I think - the one with moveable wheels to accommodate narrower and wider tracks in France and Spain without changing at the border.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 8th, 2013, 09:29 PM
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Barcelona to Montpellier in 3hrs, which train is that? The direct train, as Pvoyageuse wrote above takes 4h32m....
kappa1 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2013, 05:31 AM
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Thanks for the advice everyone.

I have been checking March 1 for planning purposes since I can't book into May at the moment. The time table I'm given on rail Europe is:

Barcelona Sants, Spain
1 Mar

Figueres Vilafant, Spain
1 Mar

Figueres Vilafant, Spain
1 Mar

Montpellier St-Roch, France
1 Mar

$57 USD per person.

This has us in Montpellier in 3 hours with a connection. Based on the feedback I'm hearing here, the timing and price seem too good to be true...
lsmith31 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2013, 10:45 AM
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Hello Ismith, thanks for clarifying for the train time table. I see that train connection on voyage-sncf.com now. It does seem to me a very qucik trip and quite in expensive. I hope you can buy this train.

The post above by "seller" reported to Fodor's.
kappa1 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2013, 01:36 PM
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We've taken the old train from Barcelona to Perpignan a couple of times and it's pretty scenic. It beats air travel for the hassle factor, although BCN is a pretty easy airport to deal with.

You should be able to get the best price for your trip at 90 days prior to travel date at www.voyages-sncf.com.
Alan_CT is offline  

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