The nearest airports to River Cottage are Lourdes (Tarbes), Pau, Toulouse, Biarritz and Carcassonne. The frequency and days that these airports are serviced by various airlines can depend on the time of year so it is always worth checking.
Below are some airlines that operate direct flights to one or more of these airports.
Bristol to Toulouse…………… most days
London Gatwick (LGW) to Toulouse……… daily
LGW to Biarritz…………….. Summer season
London Heathrow (LHR) to Toulouse……….. daily
London Stanstead to Lourdes (Tarbes)………….. 2 per week (days change twice a year)
London Stansted to Biarritz………….3 per week
London Stansted to Carcassonne……………….at least 3 per week
East Midland to Carcassonne…………3 per week
Liverpool to Carcassonne………..2 per week
Glasgow to Carcassonne………….2 per week
There is also a charter with Tangney Tours that specialises in Pilgrimages to Lourdes but also offer flights only from Stansted. They use Titan Airways and can arrange travel from Scotland, Exeter, Jersey, Doncaster, Newcastle, Teesside and Manchester. Most of their travel is between Easter and October.
Eurostar operate trains from London St. Pancras to Lille or Paris. You would then pick up a TGV service to Lourdes or Toulouse. In Paris this requires a change in stations that can be achieved by a twenty minute taxi ride or, if you are feeling adventurous, you can take the underground (RER). Eurostar recommend a minimum of one hour for transfer time. www.eurostar.com/uk-en , www.sncf.com/en/trains/tgv . It is possible to use the SNCF website to book travel all the way to Bagnere de Bigorre which is the closest town to River Cottage.
Car hire is available at all the listed airports and also the train stations.
Ouibus can take you from London (Victoria Coach Station) to Paris Bercy (city centre) and then change to travel on to Toulouse. Timetables and routes change regularly throughout the year and you may have to book well in advance. Once again see the SNCF website, www.sncf.com/en/passengers .
If you want to take your bike with you to France it is worth considering European Bike Express. The Atlantic Route would take you to Lourdes or Toulouse.
Crossing the Water and Driving your own Car
Using Eurotunnel is the quickest way to cross over to France from the UK with your car www.eurotunnel.com/uk/home . The terminal in the UK is at Folkestone and at Coquelles just outside Calais in France.
The drive to River Cottage will then take you about twelve hours. A great place to stop on your way is the lovely town of Saumur. It is an ideal place to stop overnight to break up the drive if you don’t want to attempt it in one hit. It leaves about six hour to finish off your journey. We have tried out a few hotels but our favourite is Le Londres (not because of the name!). It is situated right in the centre of town and has secure parking which can be booked in advance. See www.lelondres.com. There are lots of lovely restaurants and bars to choose from.
If driving to Folkstone isn’t convenient then maybe one of the ferry crossings would be more appropriate. Crossing over to one of the Northern French ports is the obvious choices but if you don’t fancy the drive through France then Santander in Spain would be an option or halfway to La Rochelle. Have a look at Direct Ferries website for ideas.