Travelling to Ariège (from the UK)
You will need a car while staying at the cottage: so you can
either use your own car (see car-ferry & tunnel details) or use train or
air to reach France and a rental car from your point of arrival (see train and air travel details).
Car ferries & Eurotunnel
The short crossings from Dover/Folkestone are usually good value and
involve 12-14 hours mainly motorway driving once you arrive in France. DFDS tends to be the cheapest, P&O ferries & Eurotunnel more frequent but usually more expensive. There is also a service to Dieppe (DFDS ) and long
crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge (P&O ferries) which involves a similar amount of driving in
The longer crossings to Normandy or Brittany (
Portsmouth (Brittany Ferries & Condor Ferries ), Poole (Brittany Ferries & Condor Ferries), Weymouth (Condor Ferries ), Plymouth (Brittany Ferries ) save on travel time in France and make
it possible to reach the Butterfly Gite from the port in 9 -11 hours driving if
you take motorways
The ferries from Portsmouth or Plymouth to Santander and Bilbao (Brittany Ferries) involve only about 4-5 hours driving from the port in Spain to Les Abères.
It sometimes pays to book ferries via a "cheap ferry" website rather than direct with the operator: e.g ferrysavers.co.uk - there are many others - just Google "cheap ferries to France"
Put your car on the Autorail service from Paris
to Toulouse: this service runs year round. Full details on www.seat61.com
Train & car-hire
Since renting your car will cost the same (more or less) wherever
you rent it and good discounts are available if you book it when you book your
Eurostar train, the cheapest and quickest option is to book a Eurostar to Paris
and then drive your rental car to Ariege. You can substantially reduce your
driving time by taking the train to Limoges, Toulouse or Bordeaux and collect
your rental car at the station. Bookings online via at loco2.com or Eurostar.
Air travel & car hire
Do not assume that a “cheap” ticket on Ryanair or one of its
competitors will actually be a better choice than taking the train. You will be
surcharged for baggage, have all the usual hassles in the airports and not get
any discounts for family group travel etc. When comparing prices, make sure you
know the full cost that the airline will charge (including all the taxes,
bank-card charges, check-in charges, baggage check-in etc). Using air travel
makes more sense if you are travelling from Scotland, Ireland or the north of
England than the south-east.
Most airlines will offer a claimed discount on car hire but
this is usually dearer than just booking the plane and booking the car
separately with Holiday Autos or Autos Abroad
The two nearest airports are:
Toulouse (two hours away) with flights from London Gatwick & Bristol (Easyjet);
(BA) ;Manchester (Jet2.com); Shannon (Air
Carcassonne (also two hours) with flights from London Stansted,
Glasgow, East Midlands Liverpool & Manchester all by Ryanair.