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nb 02-24-2008 07:15 AM

Does anyone know how to get from Barcelona to Toulouse, France?
My husband and I will be returning on the NCL Gem early in the morning on Sunday, May 18. We have checked the train, but it will take all day! It is only about 165 miles (262 km.) A rental car is very expensive for one-way. I think there is a bus, but we don't have the info as yet. Can anyone help? Thanks.

Hank 02-25-2008 04:01 PM

Well, the bus ride takes about 7 hours. Eurolines run a daily bus from Barcelona to Toulouse that leaves at 9:00 am and arrives in Toulouse at 3:45. If you decide to rent a car you could drive it in about 4:30.


nb 02-26-2008 01:19 PM

Thank you, Hank. I know renting a car would be the best way to go (and also a beautiful drive along the coast), but my husband checked with AutoEurope and the cost was something like $500 or $700 (can't remember exactly) for the one-way drop outrageous price. He's going to check again to find other car rental agencies. Also, we will be in Barcelona for 3 days prior to our cruise (renting an apartment), so maybe we will have a chance to find a better way.

After our cruise, we're spending 3 weeks in France visiting with family in Toulouse, Paris, Deauville and Tours. We were trying to arrive in Toulouse at a reasonable hour to at least enjoy part of Sunday (no work, no school) with the family. But, if necessary, we will take the train or bus--whichever has the best scenery.

We've traveled a lot in Europe over the last 35 years--mostly by car and always on our own. This is our 7th cruise (a new discovery since we now live in Florida!), but our first Med cruise and know it will be very different. (Thought it would be a good way to enjoy a week spending US $'s instead of Euros.) We'll be doing all but one port on our own--we decided to take the ship's excursion to Cinque Terre (since we've already spent a lot of time in Florence--our #2 favorite city...Paris #1 for us--like your wife!**) I know we will enjoy this cruise, taking each day at our own pace.

**You can see I've read many of your posts and I thank you very much for all the good information!!


Hank 02-26-2008 08:21 PM

Nanci, Your trip sounds great. The virtual collapse of the dollar has caused all of us travelers some heartburn, but we now consider it just another challenge. Your problem with one-way car rentals has often caused us grief. Like you, we normally turn to AutoEurope or Kemwel (a sister company) for help, but its seems like they have almost made in impossible to do inter-country one-way rentals without paying huge drop fees. At times, we have actually taken a train or bus to the nearest city in another country just to rent a car. But, for Toulouse this does not work well since you would probably have to go all the way to Perpignon to get a car in France, and by than you are halfway to your destination. Since you are going up to Deauville, you could stop at Honfleur for lunch and have some of their great moules while looking at the harbor (we love Honfleur). As to Cinque Terre, its really a neat place. We once tried to hike the 5 towns, but it was too darn hot and my wife had not yet fully recovered from some minor surgery. So, we had to turn back. One of these days we will try this hike again when we have a few days in the region.

We wish you the best of luck finding a reasonbly priced rental car. Barcelona has an excellent local tourist office and they would be a good source of help. At least you know that there is a bus if all your efforts fail. Hope you love the cruise.


waterart 02-26-2008 08:33 PM

if i am not mistaken, you may be able to fly from barcelona to toulouse (perhaps through madrid?) on Iberia airlines, which often has good fares.

nb 02-27-2008 10:57 AM

Waterart: Thanks for your response. I checked the airlines...this is what I found:
Iberia has a flight that is $861 with a 5 hr wait in Madrid.
Cheapest flight is late in the afternoon with Brussels Air at $273.
Good try, thank you!


nb 02-27-2008 11:15 AM

Hank, we will definitely check with the tourist office in Barcelona.

Honfleur is also one of our favorite places! Our first time there tops all other visits because it was in was just us and the fishermen! In contrast, our other visits were in spring with lots of people sitting at outdoor cafés enjoying delicious food! Still great! You can be sure we'll be there on this trip!

I think NCL's 9 hr. excursion to Cinque Terre sounds like a good approach for us for the one day visit. And the price isn't bad ($115) considering what they get for others i.e. transportation only ($109) into either Florence or Rome! We've driven along the Ligurian coast into France, just missing this beautiful spot. Here's part of NCL's description: "The (motorcoach) drive north takes you to La Spezia, where you'll take a scenic cruise.... Admire beautiful panoramas of the coast..... Arriving in Riomaggiore,.....enjoy walking along the "street of love".....path that leads to Manarola. Here, you will board another motorboat that will take you to Vernazza.....where you will enjoy time at leisure....ending with visiting Monterosso al Mare. will have free time to explore the tiny shops and have lunch at one of the fine restaurants. Your motorcoach will be waiting to drive you back at the end of the day." Doesn't seem to be too much hiking--and that's ok with me, since we'll be doing a lot of walking at the other 5 ports.

I love being in Europe and know that we will have a wonderful trip. Every day is an adventure!

Thanks for your good wishes.


Hank 02-27-2008 02:38 PM

Nanci, If you have seen my posts over the years you know that I am no fan of tours (particularly the ones done through cruise lines). But that Cinque Terre tour looks absolutely fantastic. In fact, we would probably consider doing that tour ourselves, and that would be the first tour we would have taken in more than a dozen Med cruises. You may have noticed that the Euro went over $1.50 today for the first time. We are already trying to plan some future trip strategies and are seriously considering renting apartments...perhaps 2 or 3 weeks in France near San Remy and at least 2 weeks somewhere in the vicinity of San Gimiganano. We could than take advantage of the car-lease schemes. As for the next few months, we will arrive in Italy on May 2 (crossing on the Grand Princess) where we are spending only 10 days driving in Italy. We finally decided to spend 4 nights in Praiano, than drive up to Urbino (via a night in Spoleto) and than stop in Cortona for a night on the way back to FCO. Its so darn frustrating pricing out this short venture with $7.50 a gallon gas, food, wine, etc. We had our good years with the strong dollar, but I guess its now time for the Europeans to flock to the USA where, for them, everything is on sale.


nb 02-28-2008 07:21 PM

Hank, we have never traveled with or taken any kind of tour ever! I agree, this sounds good. We'll just go with the flow on this one. In fact, it took us a long while to go on our first cruise. We resisted because being confined on a ship didn't appeal to us and we compared it to staying at a resort hotel just to use the pool or restaurants, etc. And we generally don't like crowds. But I'm glad we tried it because (to our surprise) we did like it. We've had a good time on every cruise.

I checked your transatlantic itinerary on the Grand Princess. Very interesting and exotic ports. I would love to do a transatlantic, but my husband would never want to be on a ship that long--especially with so many sea days. Your driving trip in Italy sounds great. Nothing you can do about gas prices...and you have to eat (and drink!) Just enjoy the trip!!

We like to explore when we travel...and stay as long/short as we like. We had that luxury years ago when we would travel in late winter months because we were skiers. We always planned a European adventure around a ski trip. We never needed reservations and would always find nice places to stay. Also found nice apartments to rent in places when we knew we would be staying a while.

Many years ago, we had an opportunity to travel for 4 months. We did a buy-back lease deal with VW in Brussels. We had a brand new VW and it cost us $11/day!!! Those days are gone! I also remember that in 1985 the exchange rate for French francs was $1=10F.

We are also trying to plan some future trips. We're starting to think about traveling within the states. There are many places we haven't been. Until the dollar gains some strength, maybe that's what we'll do. Our European trip in May is costing a lot more than we originally planned. C'est la vie.

I'm sure there are many other rental websites, but for this trip we used for apartment rentals in Paris and Barcelona. It worked out very well. Good descriptions, photos and contacts. They have rentals all over the world. Check it out for your Provence/Tuscany trip...which sounds like heaven!!

Good luck with your planning.


Hank 02-29-2008 09:05 AM

We are also a bit jealous of your trip. As to the transatlantics, we have found its a great way to cruise (we love sea days) and avoid the flying hassles of getting to Europe (at least for one way). What we do now is book two transatlantics (spring and fall) and than buy one round-trip air that covers both trips (this avoids the problems of finding a decent one-way fare. This also gets us to Europe twice a year (spring and fall) during the best weather months. Your mention of the $11 a day car lease brings back nice memories of days when we could afford the best restaurants and hotels. At the current time the best bargains seem to be in South America (especially Argentina) where you can still get a good steak dinner with a nice Malbec wine for about $35 a couple.


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