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Toulouse

Europe > France > Toulouse

See: Why rent a car in Toulouse ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Toulouse?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Toulouse?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Toulouse car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Toulouse with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Toulouse? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Toulouse, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Toulouse is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Toulouse? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Toulouse between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 5/10

Non car score:7/10

Balance: 6

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

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?

Why? Visiting Toulouse using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Toulouse ?


  • 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!

Why not? Visiting Toulouse without a car

Why don't you need a car in Toulouse ?


    • 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.

Ratings: How does Toulouse compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Toulouse? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Toulouse, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Toulouse? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Toulouse (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Toulouse? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Toulouse airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Toulouse car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 4

2019 - 4

2021 - 6

Average score - 5

Notes:

 

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.

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Toulouse ?

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