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With plenty of cities, regions and provinces to choose from, one of the best ways to get around France is by bus. At Trainline, we’ll highlight the main bus and coach companies in the country, the way the French bus network operates and the beautiful destinations you can get to by coach. 

French bus map

Use our bus route map as a spark to start planning your own way around France by bus. If you know where you’re going, buckle up, sit back and enjoy the ride.

By taking the bus around France, you’ll have access to the country’s major cities and to more remote locations where aeroplane and rail networks don't reach. Most buses nowadays are high in comfort, come equipped with modern amenities WiFi connection, power sockets and reclinable seats - perfect for short and long distances.

While coach and buses can’t compete with aeroplanes and trains in terms of speed, they are usually the most affordable way to get around France. On top of this, a lot of buses operate overnight services meaning you can travel in the small hours and save on hotel fees and precious holiday time.

Whether you’re an urbanite looking for a touch of Parisian chic or you're more naturally inclined to be by the sea in Marseille, taking a coach around France could be just the ticket to wherever you're going.

Buying bus tickets in France

Bus tickets in France work similarly to the way train tickets do. You can usually buy them at the station on the day of travel or online in advance. With Trainline, you can check and compare different bus and coach times to suit your schedule. 

Find cheap bus tickets in France

Bus tickets in France are typically at their cheapest when they go on sale, which is usually three months before the date of departure. Trainline will help you find the cheapest bus tickets for journeys in France and we’ll give you a nod when they’re about to increase in price. Where possible, always book in advance to benefit from low-cost bus travel in France.

Look for special offers

Whether you’re travelling solo or in a group, there are usually discounts out there to be snapped up. That could mean choosing the least flexible tickets on offer or getting a multiple-passenger discount if you’re travelling with friends and family. When it comes to buses in France, it pays to double-check your ticketing options first rather than paying double later down the road.

Top destinations in France by bus

France is blessed with so many amazing regions, cities and quaint villages that it's hard to mention them all here. As a little teaser, we've highlighted three of the most popular destinations in the country to get your creative juices flowing on where you could travel by bus. If you're after the best cuisine, architecture and things to do, France has them all and then some.

Paris

You may Paris as the city of love or the city of lights. Either way, if you've heard these nicknames enough then maybe it's time to find out why. Booking a trip to Paris will allow you to discover the many faces of this fantastic city and see why it's one of the most visited places on earth.

Start your journey at the top of the Eiffel Tower and catch a bird's eye glimpse of Paris and its suroundings. Head down and below to visit the hidden Catacombs of Paris and go on a unique storytelling tour which takes you 135 feet below ground. Or head over to the light of the iconic Pantheon's dome, before wandering through the Latin Quarter and marvelling at Notre-Dame Cathedral - a Gothic masterpiece.

After that, it'll be time to get your fill of French treats, which obviously includes cakes, viennoiseries and chocolate. Paris is home to some of the best pastry chefs in the world, and from the macarons of Laduree to the Ispahan of Pierre Hermé, your sugar fix is in good hands.

Search buses from Lille to Paris.

Search buses from Marseille to Paris.

Search buses from Bordeaux to Paris.

Lyon

Do you want to experience true French art de vivre? Look no further, Lyon should be the next city on your travel list. Lyon is perfect for culture, architecture, food, art and serenity.

When in Lyon, your main thoughts will naturally turn to food and what's on the menu next? Did you know this French city is the capital of gastronomy? Temptation is everywhere in the numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, the traditional bouchons (small bistros serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine), the prestigious indoor market at Les Halles de Lyon, the outdoor markets and their regional products. As you can see, the list is endless. And how could we forget to mention the "Pope" of French cuisine, Paul Bocuse, pioneer of the 'nouvelle cuisine' movement?

Now it's time for exploration. Without hesitation, head to the Vieux Lyon, one of the largest Renaissance neighbourhoods in Europe. We bet you'll immediately understand why this quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can start by staring at the wonder of the Romanesque and Gothic style of Saint-Jean Cathedral and then losing yourself in the charming 200-plus hidden passageways (traboules) that reveal a multitude of stunning courtyards, alleyways and staircases.

Search buses from Bordeaux to Lyon.

Search buses from Nantes to Lyon.

Search buses from St-Étienne to Lyon.

Bordeaux

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Bordeaux is wine. And honestly, we can't blame you. You are in the world's wine capital after all. So if you're into Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this city located in the southwest of France is a must-visit destination.

Many wine tours and tasting sessions are organized in Bordeaux to make the most of your stay. Not only will you become a fine Bordeaux wine expert, you'll also visit some of the most famous vineyards, châteaux (castles) and villages in the Aquitaine region. And don't miss La Cité du Vin, a very modern and unique museum celebrating all things wine, where you can sample some too.

But even before drinking your first glass of wine, you'll fall in love with Bordeaux at first glance. Bordeaux is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its remarkably urban and ancient architecture, created in the Age of Enlightenment. The majestic 18th century Place de la Bourse, the impressive Palais Rohan or Place des Quinconces, the largest city square in Western Europe, are just some of the things that will take your breath away.

Search buses from Paris to Bordeaux.

Search buses from Nice to Bordeaux.

Search buses from Nantes to Bordeaux.

Bus stations in France

At most bus stations in France, you'll find electronic departure and arrival boards with up to date bus times and terminal information. If there are any changes to your journey, they are usually displayed in French, and then in English, and all notifications are often announced on the station loudspeakers in both languages. At large French bus stations such as Porte Maillot in Paris and Lyon Perrache, you’ll find luggage storage facilities, toilets, shops and restaurants, as well as, ticket booking offices and information desks. Depending on the station, you should be able to connect to WiFi while you wait for your bus to start boarding.

Bus companies in France

Bus operating companies (BOCs) in France are a combination of French-owned operators like OUIBUS and foreign-based enterprises such as Alsa that also offer bus routes in the country. Luckily for you, that means there's a variety of ways to get in and around France by bus and coach.  

Good to know

If you have your tickets booked and are all set to go, here are a few more things you should know before you climb onboard your coach. 

Most bus companies in France offer complimentary internet access to their passengers. In some cases, you can even connect to the bus operators WiFi netwrok at the terminal while you wait for your bus to start boarding.

Certainly. You can get the bus or coach from most major French bus stations to cities in Europe like Brussels, London and Amsterdam. For some inspiration, why not take a look at our buses in Europe page and start plotting your way around the continent. 

While you're at it, have a look at these pages as well if you already have a destination in mind;

Search buses in the UK.

Search buses in Spain.

Search buses in Italy.

Search buses in Germany.

At most major French bus terminals, especially ones that are part of train stations, you may hear translations of news and announcements in other languages such as English, Spanish, Italian and Germany. If you’re looking at the arrivals and departures board, here’s a guide to what you should expect to see and what everything means: 

Bus terminal – Terminal de bus 

Bus station – Gare routière 

On time - à l’heure 

Delay – Retard 

Cancelled – Annulé 

Platform – Quai 

Ticket counters/booth - Guichets 

Leaving from – En provenance de 

Going to – à destination de 

Night bus – noctillien or bus de nuit 

Waiting room – Salle d’attente 

Route – Itinéraire 

Seat – Place or siège 

Last stop - Terminus

Normally you’re allowed to take two pieces of luggage onboard which can be put in the hold of the bus. Items such as musical instruments, bikes (folding only) count as one piece of luggage.

On most buses and coaches, smaller pieces of luggage like rucksacks, overnight bags and briefcases can be put under your seats or in the overhead compartments provided.

Luggage rules and restrictions differ from one bus company to another so it’s always advisable to do your research before booking your bus tickets.

If you're planning on travelling with a lot of luggage, then maybe have a look at our trains in France page. In most cases, trains have more storage space, and sometimes, access to the carriages tends to be step-free.

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