Well, it looks like people are starting to think about visiting us (see our Hall of Fame to see who has already visited). So, here is a page dedicated to finding our town, ways to get here and what to do when you’re here.
Where is Agen?
Trains to Agen
Please note, the train stop is just “Agen” – Nothing else. Valence d’Agen is 40km away and not many trains stop there. If you do get off the train there, we’ll probably have to drive out and rescue you. Don’t get off there (like Ed did)!
The trains from Toulouse and Bordeaux run several times per day, and there are plenty of trains from Paris to Bordeaux daily. The train from Paris to Agen isn’t too long (4.5 hours).
Train travel is much cheaper if you buy passes via Eurail when you’re not in France, but Eurail passengers have more issues booking seats. In fact, I hear you can’t reserve your seat on a French train until you’re in France. Could be annoying!
The SNCF website is all in French, but it’s easy to navigate. You can pick tickets up from any French train station. If you’re using an Australian credit card you’ll need to pick up the tickets when there’s someone available in a booth to print it out for you (normal working hours + some).
By the way, when you catch the train you need to stamp your ticket in the yellow machines which say “Composter Votre Billet” (all over train stations). This has to be done before every trip, because they’ll fine you the cost of your ticket again if you forget.
The Eurostar is excellent when it works — It’s something like 2 hours to get from London to Paris. There are a few problems though.
- Like other trains in Europe, you can’t book more than 3 months in advance. Unfortunately, people travelling from Australia often want to know how they’re getting between countries in Europe before they leave Oz.
- Travel between Paris Nord station (where the Eurostar gets in) and Paris Montparnasse (where Southbound trains leave) involves about 1 hour on the metro with several stops. None of the metro stations have ramps and very few stations have lifts. You will be travelling up and down many flights of stairs in very busy stations, so make sure you can carry all your luggage up stairs in one hit. Some passers-by are kind and will offer to help you carry stuff, but it can be a little scary letting someone you don’t know run off with your bags. An alternative to this problem is to catch the bus (which I’ve heard about, but haven’t tried). I can imagine it takes a long time though.
- If it gets too cold, the Eurostar probably won’t work. We got stuck in London, sitting at the train station with all our international luggage while it snowed outside. We had no idea what we should do with ourselves and all those bags while we tried to find an alternative travel plan. Not fun!
On that note, it turns out that European trains have agreements with each other: If you miss a train due to a problem on another train, they automatically put you on the next available train travelling the route you booked. No extra cost, no hassle. Just talk to the staff at the station.
Planes to Agen
There’s a flight direct from Paris to Agen (and back) once a day. The plane from Paris to Agen is 60 € each way (if you book well in advance – last minute tickets are usually over 500 € each way). I’m fairly sure you can only book these flights through the Agen Airport.
An easier way, is to get a plane to Paris, Bordeaux or Toulouse, then catch a train from there to Agen.
You might think Bergerac airport sounds good, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to use trains as the trains from Bergerac to Agen are so infrequent as to be entirely useless. Maybe if you travelled Bergerac-Bordeaux-Agen it would work, but it would cost more and take ages. Definitely consider your trains before you book the flight. Or, just plan to hire a car from there. It’s about 1.5 hours drive from Bergerac-Agen.
There’s also a possiblity of getting a plane to Carcasonne with Ryanair, but we found when we did that that we had to change trains in Toulouse and it became pretty expensive, time consuming and annoying. Plus, Ryanair only goes to Stansted in London, so that was another leg of travel to consider. Trust me, Toulouse or Bordeaux is a better option.
Driving in France
Car hire in France is pretty cheap (especially if you book through Avis England) and there are lots of pretty towns nearby that are worth visiting. You will need to know how to drive a manual.
If you’re driving around France, note that there’s ALWAYS huge traffic jams (even on the highways) near Lyon and Paris. If you do wind up driving past either city I’d recommend detouring onto B roads for an hour or so either side. It’s more scenic and will probably take you the same amount of time.
Transport in Agen
When you get here, there are buses in Agen which run fairly regularly during the day, but don’t run at all on Sundays or at night. We’re actually a little out of town, so this is worth knowing.
We’re usually available to pick people up if they arrive at the train station or Airport in Agen. Just make sure we know all your travel details well in advance.
If you’re driving yourself here, make sure you get our address from us and print out a map from Google. I’m not going to put the actual location of our house on the website, but ensure you print a map before setting out to come here as it’s a new area. It’s not on most maps and most car GPSs can’t find it yet.
Being a guest at chez nous
Let me know about dietary requirements and/or particular things you really want to try (See French cheese, French wine, French cuisine, Armagnac, fois gras, etc.) because we have to plan ahead a little. Shops aren’t open all the time and markets are irregular. And give us lots of warning about when you plan to be here so we can try to make sure Bruce is around.
We don’t have a proper spare room, sorry. Upstairs we’ve got a study, but it’s full of books and a desk. There’s a few mattress/couch things in the study which are fine for most of our 1-2 night backpacking guests, but not exactly comfortable for long stays. Downstairs we have a sofa bed, but it’s in the lounge room. The lounge room is the only communal space in the house, so it could get crowded very quickly if you plan to sleep on it.
It’s also a little difficult having visitors here in winter as the house is pretty small and we’ll be stuck inside most of the time.
If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel (or you’re staying a while and think it might get squishy at our house) there’s a few options. I’d recommend the Campanile Hotel in Agen if you want something simple and cheap with Wi-Fi. Or, if you want something a little nicer, take a look at the Agen tourism office’s list of local hotels.
Agen has a tourist site which is worth a look if you want to see some stuff while you’re here. It’s fairly self-explanatory even if you can’t read French – and the French version has more content than the English version. Let us know what you want to do and we’ll try to plan some stuff (so you’re not just hanging about).
Agen’s a sleepy sort of place, but it’s very pretty. One of the best things to see is the canal crossing the river. There’s not a lot of them in the world and they’re cool. There are lots of nice walks to do. The centre of the town is very old and awesome. There’s some great cafés and restaurants. Plus, hanging out in our house is pretty chilled.
If you’re here a while, we (or you) could head to Bordeaux or Toulouse for a day or so. We can do a few daytrips around the place too. We’re still tourists here. 🙂
If you want more ideas for places to see while you’re in France, we have a few links that might help.
- Our Europe Landmarks Google Map
- Lot-Et-Garonne Google Map
- Public Events and Festivals in Europe Google Calendar
- Public Events and Festivals in Europe Google Map
- Ange’s Festivals in Europe links
- Ange’s France Tourism Links
- Aquitaine Tourism Links
- Midi-Pyrénées Tourism Links
- South-West France Tourism Links
- Ange’s Local Entertainment Links for Agen
- Ange’s European Tourism links
- Agen Tourism Office
- Campanile Hotel in Agen – Just in case you’d prefer to stay in a hotel for whatever reason. These hotels are simple, but good.
You’ll probably want to learn at least a little bit of basic French before you arrive. Being able to purchase tickets, food and ask for directions can be kind of useful.
Also, if you’re heading to Europe and can’t make it to our place this time then we’ll just see you another time. Don’t stress! Maybe we could arrange a joint trip to somewhere else – that’s what we’re doing with other UK-based people. 🙂
Might see you soon!