Many of our readers will know that our region of Languedoc-Roussillon has been offering train fares at just one euro a trip on its branch lines since 2011 and is shortly going to offer these cheap tickets on certain TER main line trains.
The writer accompanied by some friends has now sampled all but one of these lines, the line between Perpignan to Villefranche-Vernet-les-Bains is on strike every weekend as a protest against the threatened closure of The Little Yellow Train.
We thought that you might like some practical tips such as where to buy the tickets and the times of these trains. One thing is clear; we live in a very beautiful region and it is a pity not to get out of the car and get the trains to show us our region at its best.
The branch lines are:-
Nimes to Grau de Roi via Aigues Mortes
The one euro ticket is valid for any single journey along this line so you could travel from Nimes to Aigues Mortes or to le Grau de Roi, the sea. If you break your journey at Aigues Mortes and then go on to the sea, then you will need another one euro ticket
The ticket can be bought either at the Nimes Station ticket office (guichet) or at the red coloured TER Machine in Nimes station concourse. If you plan a return trip to and from the same destination then the ticket machine offers you that option (aller et retour) at two euros Likewise at its terminus. If you break your journey and rejoin the train en-route then you must ask the controleur when you get on the train that you want to buy this one euro ticket.
This one euro tickets cannot be bought at any other ticket office en-route i.e. not at Béziers, neither at Montpellier, Narbonne or Perpignan
Lunas, Bousquet d’Orb, Bédarieux, Magalas to and from Béziers
We recommend that you buy your ticket at the ticket office at Bédarieux. The ticket will state ‘Ceilhes-Roqueredonde – Béziers and is valid for any journey along this route. It is not available on the 0937 departure ‘Aubrac’ intercity train from Béziers to Clermont Ferrand and its 1303 departure from Clermont Ferrand to Béziers.
However if you plan a journey further north say to Millau, Marvejols or Mende, then you buy your one euro ticket as far as Ceilhes-Roqueredonde and a second ticket at normal tariff for the rest of your journey.
Going to Mende via the highest little station in the Cevennes
The euro ticket applies from Marvejols on the Béziers to Clermont Ferrand line over the top to Mende and on to La Bastide St Laurent on the Nimes to Clermont Ferrand line. This ticket should be bought from the ticket collector as soon as you get on the train, or can be bought at Mende station.
Carcassone to Limoux and Quillan
The ticket can be bought either at the Carcassone Station ticket office (guichet) or at the red coloured TER Machine in the station concourse. If you plan a return trip to and from the same destination then the ticket machine offers you that option (aller et retour) at two euros.
If you are going on beyond Limoux to Quillan then you may find that the second part of your journey is by an SNCF red TER coach. Carcassone to Quillan once formed part of the through line to Axat and Rivesaltes (Perpignan) and although a single track it did offer a short cut for trains coming from Toulouse to Perpignan and the Spanish Frontier. Your one euro ticket covers both the train to Quillan and the TER bus if your train does not go on to Quillan
Perpignan to Villefranche-Vernet-Les-Bains the terminus and starting point for the Little Yellow train
The tickets can be bought either at the Perpignan Station ticket office (guichet) or at the red coloured TER Machine in the station concourse. If you plan a return trip to and from the same destination then the ticket machine offers you that option (aller et retour) at two euros.
Apart from commuters to and from the various stations along the line, this is the train that connects with Le Petit Train Jaune dit canarié. The Little Yellow metre gauge electric train winds its way up into the Pyrénees to the ski resorts of Font Romieu, Pyrénees 2000, and Bourg Madame where you can walk over the frontier into the Spanish town of Puigcerda. The train’s terminus is at La Tour de Carol Enveitg where it meets the SNCF standard line from Toulouse and the Spanish RENFE wide gauge line from Barcelona. The little yellow train will feature as a special article to be published next month.
TER one euro fares on the main lines of our region
From January 2015 certain trains, times and destinations will also qualify for one euro tickets. Only bookings on the internet qualify for these tickets and the number available on any one train varies according to the destination, day of the week and time.
For the train buffs the most impressive stretch of all is between Mende and La Bastide- St Laurent
The writer recently set off early at 0737 from Magalas travelling by way of Béziers, Nimes to Mende and back via Le Monastier (Marvejols) and Millau, a long day but fascinating and 500 kms.
SNCF and the Region offer some small pocket timetables for all of the lines
Most important is to read the notes as certain trains only operate on a Friday or on a Sunday as they run to allow students to travel to and from the Lycées and Universités.
These pocket timetables can be picked up from most stations such as Bédarieux and Béziers.
To be avoided is the Friday only 1630 departure south from St-Chély-d’Apcher to Béziers, why simply because it is full of noisy students returning home from the large hotel and catering college in St Chély.
Chris Elliott author of ‘The Lost Railway Lines of l’Hérault’ and joint author of ‘Night Ferry 1936 – 1980’