The natural beauty and variety of the French landscape makes traveling through France by bus a pleasant, picturesque experience. While train travel has historically been France's preferred mode of transportation, the French Government has recently passed legislation that will result in widespread changes to France's travel industry. France's recently enacted Macron Law has initiated the deregulation of the French bus market and is expected to result in 5 million new bus passengers within the next year.
The first step of taking a bus in France is by booking your ticket. But there are already many questions: where to book your ticket, online on the company's website or directly in the bus station in France? How to book a cheap bus ticket in France?
In France, 4 major bus companies are present on most bus routes in France and Europe: Isilines, Eurolines, Flixbus and Ouibus. Previously, the companies Megabus and Starshipper also provided long distance bus lines but their networks were integrated by the companies Flixbus and Ouibus respectively. In addition to these 4 main airlines, the Spanish bus company Alsa, which does not provide domestic lines, offers buses from and to Spain and from and to the rest of Europe.
Depending on the company and the particular journey selected, onboard bus facilities can vary but usually include comfortable seating with reclining seats, air conditioning, toilets, Wi-Fi, and entertainment such as movies and magazines. Many of the bus providers also have handicap accessible buses for passengers who require assistance.
Here is a short presentation of each of these 5 coach companies present in France:
Alsa: The Spanish company Alsa is the most important bus company in Spain. From France, Alsa offers many buses to Spain, but also to the rest of Europe. Indeed, Alsa has extended its international network to 12 European countries, including France, Portugal, Italy, the United Kingdom and Belgium.
Eurolines: Eurolines, a specialist in long distance buses in Europe, has not been introduced for many years. More than 600 destinations are served by its network of European partners. In France, the company is present from 96 cities. Although most of the destinations are European, the Eurolines bus company remains present on a few national routes, providing service in complementarity with Isilines, its national partner.
FlixBus: The German company Flixbus was launched in 2013 following the deregulation of the German market and quickly established itself as a leader in the Outre-Rhine. The company is today a European giant, with over 900 destinations served in 20 countries on the continent. Present in France since May 2015, the bus company Flixbus has grown exponentially, now offering 130 destinations and 60 bus lines. Flixbus has recently taken over the continental network of the British Megabus, further expanding its network of bus lines in France and Europe. The company claims to have carried 1.6 million passengers in France since its launch.
Isilines: The Isilines coach company is the 100% national subsidiary of the Transdev group launched in June 2015, which also owns the European giant Eurolines. With 29 bus lines with multiple stops, the company serves more than 80 cities in France. If 14 of these bus lines are radial (passing through Paris), 15 others are transverse. The company also offers night buses on 7 of its lines. Finally, Isilines benefits from an interconnection with the Eurolines network for bus routes from France to European destinations.
Ouibus : Ouibus, normally known as iDbus, is a French bus company that was launched in 2012. Ouibus is a subsidiary of the French national train company, SNCF. It offers cheap travel across France as well to some neighboring coutries.