In France, bus and coach travel is generally considered an inconvenient travel option for longer journeys. However it is possible to travel by bus to destinations not served by the rail network such as some places in Brittany, Normandy as well as services in Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (PACA).
Many bus services that exist to complement the rail network are run by SNCF, which also runs the French rail network, and their services appear on train timetables.
Regional bus services
Many of France’s 100 departments operate their own rural bus services. Most towns also have their own local bus services that may link up with neighbouring towns.
Departmental rural bus networks in France include:
This department comprises much of the French Riviera and its hinterland, which is served by several bus companies. Symitam is a good place to start to see which bus company serves the area you want to travel in. TAM’s services cover the whole department, but companies like Envibus, Linge d’Azur or Sillages may have better coverage within a specific area.
If the department you want to travel in isn’t listed here, contact the Mairie, tourist information centre or that department’s Conseil Général for information on regional bus services.
Ze Bus is a hop-on hop-off backpacker bus that runs through eastern France, taking in Normandy, Britanny, the châteaux of the Loire Valley, the vineyards of the Bordeaux region and the surf beaches of the south east coast.
The full round trip takes six days; although, like other hop-on hop-off buses, you are free to hop-off anywhere along the bus route and rejoin another bus later on as long as you complete the trip by the end of the season.
The full trip is broken into two parts: the Western Tour (Paris to Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley) and Wine and Surf (southwestern France including the Bordeaux wine region and the surf beaches around Bairritz). La Rochelle is the transfer point between the two sections.
The full trip costs €319. If you want to do a smaller portion you can do the Western Tour for €219 or Wine & Surf for €139.
Ze Bus only runs during the day with an overnight stop at the end of each sector. Compulsory overnight stops are: Paris, Cherbourg, Quiberon, La Rochelle on the Western Tour and La Rochelle and Biarritz on the Wine & Surf tour.
International coach services
International Eurolines services connect Paris to destinations in Ireland, the UK and continental Europe. Eurolines bus services from Paris operate from the Gare Routière Eurolines in Bagnolet (métro Gallieni).
There are also international coach services connecting cities in southern France with Andorra and northern Spain. These are operated by Novatel (Toulouse-Andorra) and Alsa (for services to Spain).
Busabout has services to Avignon, Bordeaux, Nice, Paris and Tours.