The starting point and end point are not very important, but it will probably be Lille (~Belgium border) and end point around Hendaye (~Spanish border)

I am planning to spend ~3 days crossing. Time is not really important (1 day more / 1 day less is irrelevant).

What are the cheapest transports you can find at short notice (without planning) to cross France?

I don't mind using local buses/slow trains. The key here is to spend as little money as possible and appreciate the landscape / locations as most as possible.

  • That's very broad, don't you want to at least specify example start / end points for that journey? Would Paris count as starting point? – mts Jul 22 '16 at 10:30
  • Maybe you're right. I will specifiy start and end point. – nsn Jul 22 '16 at 10:32
  • Try Megabus - freu.megabus.com. They always have some cheap tickets but you have the option of booking them online only. You cannot purchase a ticket after boarding the bus. – DarthVader Jul 22 '16 at 10:48
  • @Müller that's a good tip. Do you know if you need to print the ticket? Can it be digital? – nsn Jul 22 '16 at 11:13
  • FYI, starting from Lille, megabus (at least from the website) doesn't show a lot of destination to the south-west of France. – Max Jul 22 '16 at 11:17

I would definitely check Blablacar.fr. There's always a connection that suits your needs.

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At Busbud, a bus search tool I work for, we did a little study on the price of bus vs blablacar ride sharing in France. It's in French, hopefully you can get the gist of it: bus is often cheaper but it's worth checking both options if you're focused on price.

A third option is to take slow trains (TER) across France. These are not usually as cheap as buses or ride sharing but they're often cheaper than the TGV last minute. The SNCF doesn't make it easy to find these connections - they'd rather sell you the TGV. You can find the connections by searching on bahn.de for "Local transport." You can then book each leg of the trip one by one (in this case Lille-Amiens, Amiens-Paris) at voyages-SNCF.fr or at the station.

Bahn.de search looking finding the connection point (in this case Amiens) enter image description here

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There are three kind of solutions:

=> You can use goeuro.com to check prices and durations (that site includes carsharing).

Fourth option is to hitchhike ! It's free and it can be nice ! ;) (french ppl won't eat you ^^)

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There are now a couple tools to compare the prices of train/bus/rideshares. Two examples are Comparabus and kelbillet.

Trying these for a trip in October, 3 months ahead of time, the bus costs from 35 to 50 euros to Bayonne/Hendaye (in my experience, for such distances the price does not vary too much, even a week in advance), the rideshares are available later (booking 1 week in advance is enough, and there are often trips available one day before) and cost around 60 euros (rideshare prices are quite stable) and the train starts at 50 euros (and there are direct night trains between Paris and Hendaye, but they may disappear in 2017).

Overall, if booking early, you might find trips for as low as 35 euros, and in general you can find reasonably priced trips at 50-60 euros, even a day before. Rideshares are getting very popular with the blablacar website in France.

One more thing, France transport network is really centered around Paris. Searching for Lille-Paris and Paris-Hendaye is likely to show cheaper options than Lille-Hendaye (typically, the train between Lille and Paris is one of the most expensive segment in France - while I paid <10 euros last minute in a ride share -, Paris-Hendaye is more competitive - I paid 30 euros by bus, 60 by train a week or two in advance)

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  • 1
    Also check Rome2Rio: rome2rio.com/s/Lille/Hendaye this gives an overview of several types of transport on the left, including national and local transport, how long they take, how much they cost, how often they leave and a handy map on the right shows the route. It is easily amendable if you want to change either start or end location. After doing a bit of quick research on there you will need to book tickets from one of the websites mentioned elsewhere on this page. – L J Jul 22 '16 at 16:31

Bus will be the cheapest way to get down there.

You will probably have to change bus at some point as close to Hendaye as possible as there doesn't seem to be a direct bus line to there (AFAIK) from Lille.

Check/Google the various bus services.

A quick search with http://www.eurolines.fr/fr/ returns a 50euro itinerary from Lille to Biarritz.

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