The Occitanie Rail Tour in France: Cheaper than Eurail?
By Kaelie Piscitello
Does Europe need more trains? It seems France does! Occitanie, one of France’s most beautiful regions, has recently opened its own private set of trains that take travelers all over the region.
With the Occitanie Rail Tour, you can use up to 19 new lines and bring your bike aboard some of them. A day pass to travel the Occitanie Rail Tour only costs 10 Euros per day, a massive steal for students and families.
Everyone associates France with Paris; however, not as many travelers venture outside the famed city.
Those people might feel surprised to know Occitanie has even more French culture to offer its guests, including nine UNESCO world heritage sites.
More Tourists in Occitanie
Occitanie is France’s fourth largest tourist region as French travelers travel to Occitanie more than any other region of France, bringing in 10% of their annual GDP.
Some of the UNESCO heritage sites Occitanie has include the Canal du Midi, the Way of St. James, and the Episcopal City of Albi. In addition to these historical landmarks, visitors can stop by one of the region’s two national parks and 28 thermal spa centers or go to the beach. Two-hundred-twenty km of Occitanie borders the Mediterranean.
Occitanie Rail Tour Foundations
The Occitanie Rail tour may seem like an addition to the popular Europe or France rail pass many people take while traveling around Europe. However, it’s a new innovative initiative centered around eco-friendly policies and low prices.
According to Destination Occitanie’s head of press relations, Patrick Fontanel, the company has a three-fold objective. He said the Occitanie Rail Tour “is ecological because anyone who does not take the car in favor of the train uses a less polluting means of transport and reduces their carbon footprint.”
Fontanel also explained that the other two parts of the initiative include a social element that allows more people to access the train because of its low prices and an economical piece that “allows families to access more leisure.”
Strong Political Ties
Though the Occitanie Rail Tour seems like an independent project, it has strong political ties. According to Fontanel, it was created due to a “strong political will of the Occitanie Region and its Regional Tourism Committee to favor public transport to discover a territory by demonstrating, with supporting services, that all the sites of tourist interest in l’Occitanie are easily accessible by train.”
Fontanel also explained that the Regional Tourism Committee wanted people to easily access leisure activities, such as hiking, accommodations, museums, and restaurants, from the trains. So, the Occitanie Rail Tour provided these adaptations.
More About the Occitanie Rail Tour
In addition to the Occitanie Rail Tour’s flexibility for low-budget travelers and families, the company also offers travelers lots of flexibility.
Customers can choose what days and times to use their 10 Euro day pass, providing them with more options for hotels and restaurants.
In addition to the cheap fairs the trains offer, an electronic pass exists for check-in and out, making boarding a more efficient experience.
Taking the train makes travelers feel comfortable during their experience. Travelers do not just have to take one straight shot between stops on the lines, and they can go back and forth if they wish, stopping in other cities along the route if they have time.
According to Fontanel, all travelers must experience Collioure during their travels with the Occitanie Rail Tour. He explained Collioure “is an adorable fishing village on the rocky coast of Occitania, and the terminus of the suggested circuit is certainly the highlight of your train adventure.”
He also cannot recommend the Yellow Trian enough as it crosses the Pyrenees mountains, the highlight of many travelers’ journeys.
Besides the website showcasing the Occitanie Rail Tour, a Michelin Guide, “Tour of Occitanie by Rail” exists with more information about the train journeys that exist. Interested people can purchase this guide in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, to read about additional advice and favorites from journalists who took these trains.
Plans for the Future
The Occitanie has only run for about a year; however, the company hopes to expand its services by collaborating with other companies in the future. For example, they hope to offer day passes for the train with any connecting flight to discourage car usage, and they soon plan to offer Occitanie Rail Tour pass holders discounted hotel room prices.