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Choosing which towns south of Toulouse to see by public transport

Bonjour:
My husband and I are in southern France for 10 days before flying out of Nice. I am having trouble deciding where to lay our heads for a minimum of two nights in each town or, better yet, a central location from which to base day trips with public transport. I am considering visiting Collioure, Perpignan, Narbonne and Carcassonne, though open to suggestions for alternatives to get a taste of the different towns south of Toulouse. (Toulouse is our northern-most stop.) Thank you in advance for ideas as this is our first trip to the area. We will be making our way over to Nice for our flight on day 11.

Posted by
1416 posts

I would recommend Collioure for two nights. While Carcassonne is worthy of a stopover, it’s not so large that it requires overnighting there for two nights.

Posted by
1807 posts

Although Collioure may be an option, since you only use public transport, be aware that from Toulouse there is no direct train to Collioure or its touristic surroundings (Banyuls-sur-Mer, Argeles).

Once in Collioure you will not have any direct train to Nice either and the train journey lasts at least 7 hours with 2 train changes (in Narbonne & Marseille)

Another option would be to get closer to Nice by going to Montpellier. A pleasant and dynamic large city 2 hours from Toulouse by direct train.
From Montpellier you will be 4h30 from Nice by train (with train change in Marseille).

https://www.montpellier-france.com/

Posted by
10185 posts

We've been to Collioure a few times but last year we spent one day at the end of June. It was a zoo, jammed with people. And French school vacation hadn't even started. Montpellier, being a diverse city with a huge historic center, can handle more people and not feel overrun.

I also agree about heading east if that's your ultimate destination. It's a long haul by train to get to Nice from Toulouse.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you, all, for your help. We are coming by bus from Barcelona to southern France, so we can get to Collioure, but will getting out of there to Carcassonne for a day be possible? Is Toulouse an interesting city to see as well, or is it more industrial? Thanks much!

Posted by
11 posts

PS Since it will be May 8-21, we are hoping it will not be too crowded.

Posted by
1807 posts

Toulouse, the pink city, is not at all an industrial city.
It's the headquarters of many aerospace companies, including the Airbus factories, but these companies are outside the city.
When visiting Toulouse you will not notice the presence of these industries and businesses.

https://www.toulouse-tourisme.com/en/

Provided you have at least 3 or 4 nights, you can easily visit Toulouse + Carcassonne. From Toulouse, Carcassonne is 1 hour by train. In my opinion it is useless to stay there one night. You can also go to Albi for the day, which would be a better idea if you want to avoid the crowds.

https://www.albi-tourisme.fr/en/

Since it will be May 8-21, we are hoping it will not be too crowded.

Sorry to disappoint you..

In addition to Wednesday May 1st, Wednesday 8th, Thursday 9th and Monday 20th are public holidays, and this year schools will be closed on Friday 10. Which means that many French people will take the opportunity to take vacation days, mainly between May 1 and 12.

There will certainly be many more people than usual in Collioure and Carcassonne (which are already invaded during this period)

Posted by
27096 posts

I'm a big fan of Toulouse. The pink-brick architecture is quite distinctive, and the city has a lot of worthwhile sights. I spent several nights there and really enjoyed the city. I also day-tripped by public transportation to Albi, an atmospheric (though not lively, in my experience) town with a notable cathedral and the excellent Toulouse-Lautrec Museum.