On today’s show Elyse tells us how long ago Toulouse was an overcrowded medieval city with dirt roads, no running water, no sanitation, and no public parks. Then a local visionary named Louis de Mondran fought the good fight to bring public parks to the city starting in the 1740s, and we still enjoy three wonderful adjacent parks at the center of Toulouse: the Boulingrin (or Grand Rond), the Jardin des Plantes, and the Jardin Royal.
Today is the first episode in a group of episodes that I am calling France on the Cheap where I explain some of the things you can do to save some money while in France.
Why is it important that you understand bus transportation if you never take the bus at home? Let me give you four reasons:
Strikes: For reasons that I won’t go into here, strikes are common in the transportation sector. Just last week there were Taxi strikes, SNCF strikes (train system), and air traffic control strikes are announced for this week. The ability to be versatile in your transportation choices will make you immune to those unpredictable strikes. If one way won’t work, choose another!
Buses are cheap: buses are the most inexpensive way to get around in France. They’re also more spontaneous. Flights for tomorrow may be full, but the bus probably has room.
WiFi on board: as the fleet gets renewed, the buses are also getting more comfortable. Some offer WiFi and plugs to charge your devices while on board. Not all of them do, compare prices and services.
Genuine French life: Buses are a wonderful way to get a feel for regular French people and interact with them. This is not going to be a bus full of tourists, as a matter of fact you’ll probably be the only tourist there. These are regular French people living their regular French lives.
Trans European Buses
In this episode I also explain how buses to other European countries work, and list some of the companies you may consider. There is a lot of competition in this area because the bus is a vibrant mode of transportation in Europe.
Understanding the Bus System
How do you find out if a place where you want to go to is on a regional bus line? Since every department does it a little bit differently, you’ll need to search. Search for the following terms: bus régional and the name of the department you want to know about. How do you know what department you’re in? Here’s the map of French departments!
Why You Are Better Off Without a Car In France
Driving in major French cities is not conducive to a relaxing vacation. If you need to rent a car, definitely park it at your hotel and either walk or use public transportation. There is a big cultural difference between France and North America when it comes to cars. French people who choose not to own a car or use a car are not strange in any way. Buses are popular and not seedy at all.
Some of the Bus Companies You May Want to Consider
Friends often ask me, when is the best time to visit France? The obvious response is any time will do, better come at a “bad” time than not at all! Circumstances often dictate what we’re able to do, and if that’s the case for you, don’t worry about it, you can make any time work.
But let’s imagine that you do have a choice. What are some considerations you should keep in mind when making your choice? This is where we get into the weeds of what it’s like being in France at a particular time of the year, and yes, we have to admit it: not every week is created equal in France. We know this because we live here year-round and we get to experience France every day. And the reality is that some days are more conducive to a great vacation than others.
Originally Elyse wasn’t scheduled to appear in this episode, but Annie took the opportunity of another recording to “ambush” her and ask her to share her thoughts on this, and, of course, we have diverging opinions, just to keep it interesting!
Here are some things you should consider in making your decision:
Great fresh food in season
French people in a great mood
High chances for perfect weather
Great opportunities for cultural activities
Every venue you might want to visit open to the public