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Pagel family holidays Midi Pyrenees, France

Air Travel to France

Getting to France by Air:

There are 3 options:

  1. Charter flights: Usually part of a holiday package although charter companies do sell excess capacity to the low cost flights web sites which will sometimes offer you seats on charters.
  2. Budget “no frills” airlines: offer you exactly that! But they are quite reliable with well maintained modern fleets. And they tend to run flights to regional airports which are often closer to your holiday destination.
  3. Scheduled airlines: these offer the most convenience for major cities as they usually serve the main airports (often more expensive, due to higher landing fees).

Don’t forget about Parking at your departure airport:

Taking a taxi to the airport is the easiest option although, unless you live close to the airport, this will be more expensive than taking your own car. Even then parking can be a major contributor to the expense of your holiday. With a bit of forward planning you can make a significant saving on the cost.

When parking at major airports you are usually faced with two fundamental choices – long stay or short stay. Whatever you do, do NOT use short stay unless you are only picking someone up or dropping them off. With long stay you will find several choices run by independent companies. These are usually at a distance from the terminal building and you have to wait for a bus to take you there – remember to allow some time for transferring to the terminal (say 20 mins) before checking in.

See our Ski Flight Guide for the latest on which airlines fly to which airport close to populat ski resorts in French Alps and Pyrenees.

If you’re away only for a few days you may as well just turn up at the airport with no pre-booking as there is not so much money to be saved, but for breaks of a week or more then check out the following web links:

  • BAA Site (British Airports Authority)
  • BCP Parking
  • NCP (National Car Parks)
    Runs car parks at Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham
  • Holiday Extras

Purple parking have an excellent system where you drop your car off at the departures terminal….they take it to a storage compound….and then meet you at the arrivals terminal on your return. We’ve used their service and it was excellent!

And Car Hire at the other end:

If you need to rent a car in France you can try the following companies:

– Alamo
– Europe Car International
– Hertz
– Holiday Autos
– Sixt

In our experience Holiday Autos offers the best prices and is usually willing to beat any quote. Sixt also seems to offer good prices. Hertz generally have better vehicles and good service. Avis is a good all round reputable company.

When you are booking your car rental consider the following advice:

  • Try and book with a rental company whose compound is inside the airport to which you are travelling. It’s a real pain having to wait for courtesy buses.
  • Check what is and isn’t included in the costings. You can pay extra for additional drivers, collision damage waiver insurance, roof racks etc..
  • Try to go for the option where you return the car with a full tank of petrol. It’s much cheaper if you buy it!

Hot Tips on Budget airlines:

  • When comparing prices make sure you include cost of airport taxes.
  • Try travelling midweek and at inconvenient hours – you can save a fortune!
  • Check carefully on the airport description – often these carriers fly to regional airports rather than the major ones.
  • Check the availability of public transport at your destination if arriving early or late.
  • Make sure you get to your flight on time. Usually the check-in will close 30 minutes before departure but you should check this carefully with your carrier in advance.
  • Take a snack and some reading material for the flight.

Read more travel in France: