Should you rent a car in ToulouseFrance>Toulouse
The city is best known as a gateway to the Pyrenees and also as the hub for Europe’s aerospace industry. Anyone flying in for a ski holiday should easily be able to take a coach transfer, but what about visiting elsewhere, or hitting the Pyrenees outside the ski season?

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  • Limitations of public transport — Toulouse only has a relatively small metro system, and a few major railway lines heading out of the city. Although you can take the TGV to Toulouse from Paris or from Perpignan, services are relatively slow compared to the fast dedicated lines which are available elsewhere.
    Once outside the edge of the city, the landscape becomes rural very quickly, and it is much easier to get around with a car.
  • Scenic drives — there is plenty of good scenery heading out in just about any direction from Toulouse, especially to the southwest, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Take the local road out to Rieumes for the start of a great scenic drive – this is why so useful to get a hire car in Toulouse, although this has to be compared with the enjoyment of the scenic rail routes that also attract many tourists to this part of France.
  • Pyrenees — Toulouse is naturally a great start for a road trip through the Pyrenees Mountains.
  • Languedoc — Toulouse isn’t just about the Pyrenees. Head due east to Castres for the start of the Languedoc Natural Park for some superb lakes and mountain scenery. This area also makes for excellent cycling and walking. Although it is much easier to access this region in a hire car, you can take also the train to Castres or Mazamet.
  • Andorra — together with Barcelona, Toulouse has traditionally been one of the main gateways to the mountainous principality of Andorra, which doesn’t have any airport of its own. Whilst coach transfers are available to the major ski resorts, getting a hire car in Toulouse is a much better option for having the flexibility to drive during the summer months.
    However, as there is only one major road running through Andorra, and because of its duty-free status (and source of cheap petrol), prepare for long tailbacks!

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    • Metro — as with most other major French cities, Toulouse has a small four line metro and tram system covering the busiest parts of the city, run by Tisseo.
      This is supplemented by an RER regional rail network. One tram line (blue on system map)  runs near to the airport, but does not call directly at the terminal.
      A shuttle bus service is also available to the airport from the main (Matabiau) station and city centre.
  • Carcassonne — the superb walled city of Carcassonne is an easy day trip by train from Toulouse. You should reserve seats in advance for any of the TGV services, which take around 40 minutes, as do the regional trains. The local stopping services take just over an hour, but watch for a large gap in service (all trains) between mid-morning and late afternoon. See our Carcassonne car hire advice page for more details.
  • Ski transfers — plenty of transfers are available to the major Pyrenees ski resorts during the winter, although getting a hire car in Toulouse will provide a bit more flexibility, and it can work out as reasonable value for a group of travellers, especially when compared with some of the longer ski transfers.
  • Andorra by coach – A twice daily coach service offers year round transfers to Andorra, compensating for the principality’s lack of an airport of its own.
  • Andorra and the Pyrenees by train. Although services are by no means frequent or fast, there are a couple of superb train routes heading west of Toulouse towards the Pyrenees.
    You can head to L’Hospitalet pres-l-Andorre (approx 2 1/2 hours) for the solitary bus connections into Andorra, whereas train buffs might appreciate travelling to Latour-de-Carol (approx. 3 hours, every 2 hours), a station with three scenic railway routes heading out in different directions, each with its own gauge.
    Little Yellow Train – one of Europe’s great rail routes is the Little Yellow train on the Cerdagne line which continues from Latour down to Villefranche-de-Conflent. This 40km narrow guage route takes nearly four hours, but is one of the most treasured in France. From here you can continue back to Toulouse (aprox. 4 hours) via Perpignan and Narbonne.
    To continue onward to Barcelona, use “La Tor de Querol-Enveig” to search Renfe Cercanias trains – there are around 6 each day, usually taking just under 3 hours.

Conclusion — Should you rent a car in Toulouse? There are more than enough options for visiting Toulouse without a car, either through staying within the city itself, or through using some of the great scenic railway lines which venture into the Pyrenees. Although a hire car in Toulouse is certainly useful, we have to balance this out against some of the really beautiful rail scenic routes which are also available.

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Toulouse Car Hire Notes

  • Toulouse Blagnac Airport (TLS).
  • Tisseo Metro, tram and bus.
  • Resort transfers.
  • The yellow train.

Toulouse Metro map

Metro v Hire Car in Toulouse
Is it worth getting a hire car in Toulouse or just using the metro and other public transport?

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Author: Carometer

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