Aller-Retour : getting to and from our local airports

Travel to and from the P-O has become more and more problematic over the past few years. Not only do we have to look further away for suitable flights but transport to and from the chosen airport can also pose different problems.

We don’t have all the solutions but we have some lovely readers who are happy to share their experiences.

How about you? Can you provide any tips for getting to and from an airport? 

To Barcelona Airport by train… with Gill and Fiona 

At this time of year, flight options from the UK to the P-O are limited and many flights require travel to and from Barcelona airport. We decided to take a day trip to this beautiful city (it’s a hard job but somebody has to do it!) and check out train travel to El Prat Airport, Barcelona. 

The ‘ALLER’

Head for Figueres, a 20 minute drive from the Spanish border at Le Perthus, and follow signs for Figueres-Vilafant station to take the fast train to Barcelona

Gare de Figueres-Vilafant

Be careful. Vilafant is not the main station in Figueres although if you do accidentally end up at the small main station just off the centre, you can still get a train to Barcelona; cheaper tickets for a longer journey of around 2hours 55mins.  

No reason to get lost though as Vilafant is well signposted with signs for AVE, the name for the TGV in Spain. There is a large car park next to the entrance.  Check out the website for more details and parking reservations. The train journey from Vilafant takes 55 minutes to Barcelona Sants train station.  

Alternatively you can start your journey from Perpignan but there are more train options  from Figueres than Perpignan. 

Check train times and buy tickets here. If you prefer to use an English website for buying train tickets, try this one.

The AVE/TGV train goes into Barcelona Sants station. From here you need to take another train directly to the airport (or a bus or taxi directly outside the station of course, but we are only looking at train travel on this trip.)

This ‘navette‘ always runs from either platform 9 or 10 and takes 19 minutes. Notorious for very clever pickpockets, keep your hand on your luggage and any valuables well out of reach. 

The easiest way to pay for this journey is to purchase a booklet of 10 tickets (T-10 1 Zone)which also cover buses and the Barcelona metro, and can be bought from a machine in the main station. They can be kept for the return journey and future use too. 

At the airport check which terminal you are flying from (Ryanair is usually Terminal 1). For Terminal 1, it’s a short walk from the train station using a pedestrian linked tunnel.  

For Terminal 2 use the free airport bus to terminal 2 which takes about 10 minutes. 

Inter-terminal shuttle bus

The ‘RETOUR’ 

From the main airport, cross over the covered bridge and take the navette train back to Sants station, a journey of 19 minutes. Sit on the left hand side of the train and get off at ‘Barna Sants’ (the platform sign reads Barcelona Sants).

At Sants go upstairs to the main train station. Take the fast train Figures – Vilafant which takes 55 minutes. The platforms for the fast train are on the far right of the ticket office. The trains only run from platforms 5 or 6. 

To Carcassonne Airport by train… with Alan Foster

When coming to stay in the PO, it’s easy to fly to the nearest airport, hop in a hire car and drive on. But as car hire costs escalate, here is an alternative suggestion for anyone lucky enough to be able to take advantage of public transport (particularly a €1 bus) which takes them to Perpignan before mid-day. 

The ‘ALLER’

We flew to Carcassonne (flights from various UK airports) and took a €6 navette to the train station where we checked into a modestly priced central hotel.  

A wander over to the Cité over the footbridge, a quick look inside the chapel on the right before you cross the river, for maximum charm, back to the old part and supper in one of our favourite restaurants. 

The next morning, you can get a train to Perpignan, but we took the (very) early morning Ouibus direct to Perpignan (approx €11 for 2), picked up some breakfast, and then a €1 bus to our second home in Port Vendres. 

The ‘RETOUR’ 

Our return was particularly pretty. After a €1 bus to Perpignan, we took the 12h20 €1 bus to Quillan – sit on the right side of the bus for the best views of the Cathar castle, the river and the red train route. In May the wild flowers by the roadside were spectacular. We took a picnic to eat. If you prefer, you can stop at Axat, for white water rafting and other river fun (also accessible via le Train Rouge).

Quillan itself is small and quiet, with the Aude running through it. There are various hotels in Quillan: we stayed near the station, but the best views are from the Castle Hotel, on the river, opposite the ancient ruined castle.  

Quillan

In the morning, there is a €1 bus (it seems to be an almost permanent bus replacement service) from the station to Carcassonne, (websitewith plenty of time for lunch before picking up the navette back to the airport. 

So.…. the total return cost for two people was under €50 : €24 for the navettes, €11 for Ouibus and an astonishing €8 in €1 buses – plus two nights in a hotel and the flights of course. 

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