Meeting Your Trip in HENDAYE — 2013

On this page, you will find information about meeting your trip in HENDAYE. Topics include...

We suggest that you print these pages out, and bring a copy with you to your trip.


When and Where:

At the Hendaye SNCF (French Railways) train station, 1p on day of departure (Saturday).  Walk around the building to find someone with a bunch of bicycles (typically around the right side of the building as you face the front entrance, on the platform closest to the station building).

Note that the bikes (and the Trip Coordinator) often arrive via overnight train from Paris.  If / when this is the case, you can meet both at pretty much any time during the morning, though the Coordinator has some railway manipulation to accomplish as well, and may wander off periodically.  But you will almost certainly find him (and your bike) in the hours from 7:30a to 9a, should you wish to get an early start.

2013 note:  several of us arrive on the Hotel Train from Lisbon, circa 11a.  Nicolas will also be at the station to meet that train.


Discussion:
Hendaye is a mid-sized town on the Atlantic coast, on the French bank of the river that defines the French / Spanish border.  If you have a morning free while waiting for your trip to assemble, be sure to visit the town’s pretty main square.  Or taxi, bus or walk to the ocean beach (a pleasant walk of about 2 miles) for a morning of sunning yourself.

Paris and Madrid have the nearest intercontinental airports (about the same travel time, though service is more frequent from Paris).  Bordeaux is the nearest international airport, San Sebastian is the nearest airport (15€ by taxi), and Biarritz is almost as close (20 minutes by train).



Getting to the Trip
The following routings are described.  You may follow the link to jump directly to yours, or just scroll down.  Information on getting to your hotel from the Hendaye station is offered at the start of the next section, “Practical Information.”

Paris, via daylight or overnight train
Charles de Gaulle Airport
Via Overnight Train from Nice, Arles or Geneva
Bordeaux
Biarritz
San Sebastian Airport
Madrid
Barcelona
Lisbon
Bilbao



From Downtown Paris

Daylight trains depart from the Montparnasse station, a direct metro ride from either of our usual hotels, or from our office (allow 45 minutes).

All tickets are train-specific, which means that you will have a reservation with a specific train number and departure time, a car number, and a seat number.  If you are travelling on a railpass, and do not have a reservation for any reason, you will need to make one at the station before you board the train.  Be sure to show your railpass when you do so, or you will be charged for a full ticket.

The final destination for most direct trains on this line is Irun, and this is what will show on the departure monitor (other trains terminate in Hendaye).  Trains involving a connection may be travelling to any of Tarbes, Toulouse, Bordeaux, or Arcachon.

If you are taking the train down from Paris on the morning of your trip start, try to hit the café car for an early lunch before you get in.  If you step off the train at 1p and still have to eat, it will push back the start of your cycling day more than is ideal.

See also “Figuring Out When to Get Off,” below.

Overnight trains depart from the Austerlitz station.  To get there by metro from either of our usual hotels, or from our office, requires one connection (allow 45 minutes).  You will have a reservation with a specific train number, a car number, and bed number.  The final destination for your train will be “Irun,” and this is what will show on the departure monitor.

Here is a hint to help you sleep well:  do as much as possible of your bedtime routine just as you would at home.  Brush your teeth, dress as you do at home (insofar as possible...), if you usually read a page or two, do so.... Make your bed carefully.  Even if the cabin is hot, do not make the blanket inaccessible.  Your train may cool significantly during the night, and in any event, you will cool as your circulation slows.  You will be grateful to have the blanket at hand if you wake up shivering.

Do not worry about waking up in the morning:  a general PA announcement will be made a half hour before arrival at Hendaye.  See also “Figuring Out When to Get Off,” below.



From Charles de Gaulle Airport

Trains depart from a TGV station built into Terminal 2, with entrances between stations 2C and 2E, and between 2D and 2F.  If you land at terminals 1 or 3, you first take a people mover called CDGVAL to terminal 2, to get to the rail station.

All tickets are train-specific, which means that you will have a reservation with a specific train number and departure time, a car number, and a seat number.   If you are travelling on a railpass, and do not have a reservation for any reason, you will need to make one at the station before you board the train.  Be sure to show your railpass when you do so, or you will be charged for a full ticket.

The final destination for direct trains on this line is generally Irun, and this is what will show on the departure monitor (one daily train terminates in Hendaye; trains involving a connection may be travelling to any of Tarbes, Toulouse, Bordeaux, or Arcachon).  See also “Figuring Out When to Get Off,” below.



From Geneva, Nice, Lyon, Arles... via Overnight Train

The final destination for your train will be Irun, and this is what will show on the departure monitor.  You will have a reservation with a specific train number, a car number, and bed number.  The departure time of your train from your boarding station is printed on the reservation card.

Here is a hint to help you sleep well:  do as much as possible of your bedtime routine just as you would at home.  Brush your teeth, dress as you do at home (insofar as possible...), if you usually read a page or two, do so.... Make your bed carefully.  Even if the cabin is hot, do not make the blanket inaccessible.  Your train may cool significantly during the night, and in any event, you will cool as your circulation slows.  You will be grateful to have the blanket at hand if you wake up shivering.

Do not worry about waking up in the morning:  your arrival is late morning.  And should you miss your stop, the train’s final stop is less than 2 miles away from Hendaye:  just catch the next train (or a taxi) back.  See also “Figuring Out When to Get Off,” below.



From Bordeaux

An airport shuttle bus operates from Bordeaux airport to the “St-Jean” SNCF railway station, Bordeaux’s main station, every 20 - 30 minutes.

From there, trains run to Hendaye about every two hours (some services require that you change trains in Dax, half way along).

Many trains on this line require reservations.  Consult the information booth or the ticket window to see if the next departure requires a reservation.  If it does, you may make one at the ticket windows.  On other trains, you may board with only an “open” ticket or a railpass (no reservation) and occupy any empty seat.  See also “Figuring Out When to Get Off,” below.




From Biarritz

There is supposedly a bus directly to Hendaye, but we have never been able to hunt it down, and suspect it may be a hoax.  A taxi to the Biarritz train station, called “la Négresse,” would be cheap (10€, including a tip), since it is not far away.  You could walk it in 20 minutes if you didn’t have baggage.

From Biarritz, trains run to Hendaye about every two hours, though service is irregular, and there are some long gaps.  Purchase your ticket for this short journey (about 5€, ask for an “allez-simple pour Hendaye, s’il vous plait,” pronounced “al-lay’ sam-pl poor Ohn-dye’, see voo play”).  Journey time is 20 minutes.  See also “Figuring Out When to Get Off,” below.



From San Sebastian Airport

If you land at the tiny San Sebastian airport, actually located in the town of Fuenterabbia, you may prefer to just take a taxi.  The ride is not a long one, and will not be expensive (under 15€).

There is a bus that works, too:  catch it from the far side of the street that passes in front of the (tiny) airport terminal.  It will let you off in the center of Irun (about 10 minutes), opposite the tiny “Colon” station (ask the driver).  From there, catch the every 30 minute train to Hendaye.  Bus costs a euro, train costs another....



From Madrid

An every-half-hour train runs from the terminal 4 of the airport (called Barajas) to Chamartin Train Station, taking 11 minutes to complete the trip.  This is not the metro, but rather a real train, identified as “RENFE” or as “Circanias.”  Pay attention to your progress:  Chamartin is not the final stop for the train.  The ride is free if you have a connecting main line train; otherwise, buy a ticket from one of the ticket machines (circa 3€). 

If you have time before your train, you may leave your luggage in a locker (outside the front of the station, in a separate office), and go off to explore. The area around the station is not of particular interest:  this will involve a metro trip to get to a more interesting part of town.

Your train to “Hendaya” can be located by consulting the long distance (“Largo Recorrido”) departure (“salida”) board.  Refer to the train number on your reservation.



From Barcelona

From the Airport to “Sants” Station.
Barcelona airport is served by an airport train, which operates directly to the “Sants” railroad station every thirty minutes.  A covered walkway leads to the trains from the national terminal, but assuming you land at the international terminal you first have to walk the 100 yards necessary to get over to the national terminal.  Follow train pictograms, or signs for “RENFE” (Spanish Railways).

Buy your ticket to Sants station (station is “estación” in Spanish).  Automatic ticket machines only speak Spanish (or Catalan) and only take euros, but you can probably figure them out.  Trip time from the airport to the city center is 20 minutes or so.  Pay careful attention to the train’s progress, since it does not end its run at the Sants station, and so you could miss your stop.  Watch carefully whenever you go underground (the Sants station is underground).

Train from Barcelona to Hendaye.
Look on the departure board labeled “Salidas, Larga Recorrida.”  This means “Long Distance Departures.”  Irun is the last stop for both of the trains that go to the French border.  Your train will be identified with its departure time, and the word “Irun.”  Remember that the Europeans use the 24-hour clock.  So, for example, 1p is 13h00.

In Irun, you will need to take a taxi over the border to Hendaye:  no more than 10€, a 5-minute trip.



From Lisbon

Hints on Travelling from the Lisbon Airport to the Town Center or Santa Apolonia Train Station.
One word:  Aerobus.  Line 1.  Runs every 20 minutes.  Details are on this web site, but it stops within 100 m of your hotel, if your hotel is our hotel.  Cost is 3.50€, and your Aerobus ticket serves as a transit pass for the rest of the day on any surface vehicles (not the metro) that you choose to ride.

This is actually useful if you are going to Santa Apolonia Station, as the Aerobus does not go all the way there.  To get to Santa Apolonia Station, get off at the “Rossio” stop, and catch bus number 759 from the same bus stop (stop E on Praça Rossio), to Santa Apolonia.  The final destination for this bus is “Oriente," so that is what will be written on the destination panel.  No ticket required:  your Aerobus ticket works.  But you must press it to the little validation machine, and get the approving green light.

If you are staying a night or more at the Hotel Tejo, it is 3 blocks from the Praça Rossio, where you get off the Aerobus.  To walk there:

  • Cross the praça to the far right corner, in front of the vaguely lavender Hotel Internacional.  
  • Cross the street (Rua da BETESGA) to put yourself on the sidewalk that fronts that hotel.
  • Follow Rua da BETESGA a short block to another, equally large praça, the Praça Figueira.
  • Go straight across Praça Figueira, along its right side.   Street car tracks now appear in the street on your left.

The Hotel Tejo is one short block out the far side of the Praça Figueira, in the Rua dos CONDES de MONSANTO, on the left.  The street car track curves left here, to wrap around the building.

Lisbon’s airport is not far out of town:  a taxi into the city would probably cost in the 20€ range.

Train From Lisbon to Hendaye.
Your train is the “Sud Express,” departing for Paris.  It actually terminates in Hendaye, where you want to get off, and Paris passengers change trains there, but the departure board usually says “Paris” and not “Hendaye.”  One note:  the dining (restaurant) car on this service is fun, and reasonably priced.  A four-course meal, with a bottle of good Portuguese wine (try the vinho verde if you like whites), will cost no more than 30 €.  Included in the ticket price if you have a “deluxe” cabin.




From Bilbao
Both buses and trains run from Bilbao to Hendaye.  The buses are faster by about 45 minutes.  But they operate to an irregular schedule, and they require that you reserve seats.  You can do this on a walk-up basis, if there is space, but if you are travelling on a Friday the bus can actually sell out.  As far as we know, you cannot reserve from abroad, or by internet.  Nor do we know how to find the schedule, though you can almost certainly hunt it down on the web.  We hate buses.

Trains, operated by the Basque Railways (euskotren, www.euskotren.es) operate hourly from the Atxuri station, scheduled to depart on the hour.  You take a first train to Donostia (San Sebastian in Basque, about two and a half hours).  Connect there for a second train to Hendaia (Hendaye in Basque), departing just a few minutes later.  This is a 30-minute trip.  The train always has space, you buy your ticket at the station without formality, and the tickets are cheap (circa 10 euros for the whole business).

Direct express trains run twice a day straight through to Hendaye, scheduled at 9:34a and 20:34 (8:34p) in 2011.  Total trip time is 2.5 hours for the entire journey to Hendaye.





Figuring Out When to Get Off in Hendaye
If you are on a thru train from Paris, Nice, Marseille or Geneva, the stations that immediatly precede your arrival in Hendaye are Bayonne, Biarritz, and St-Jean-de-Luz / Ciboure, in that order, each about 10 mins. apart, and the last 10 mins. before Hendaye.  When you stop in them, you will know you are getting close.

If you changed trains somewhere en route, or are coming locally from Bordeaux or Biarritz, there is a tiny station called Les Deux Jumeaux, after St.-Jean-de-Luz / Ciboure and just before Hendaye.  Some local trains stop here.  Thru long-distance trains never do.

Should you miss Hendaye, for some bizarre, jet-lag-related reason, don’t worry:  you can’t go far.  The end of the line, just 2 k away, is Irun, and all trains terminate there.  Just catch the next train (or a taxi — 10€) back.

If you are arriving from Portugal, Hendaye is the final stop for your train.  If you are on a night train, do not worry about waking up in the morning:  the car attendant will wake you 45 minutes before arrival.  And since yours is the last stop for the train, if worse comes to worst, the coach cleaners will wake you up in the switchyard



Practical Information regarding Hendaye

Finding Your Hotel.
Hôtel Santiago.   A taxi from the station would cost less than 5€.  We suggest a generous tip if you take a cab from the front of a long taxi line:  your driver will have been waiting a while for a fare, and will be understandably disappointed with your short trip.

The Santiago is the equivalent of three long blocks from the station.  It is a very simple Basque inn, but full of local color. If your luggage is manageable (or if you choose to check your bags at the station), you may walk:  turn right out the front of the station, and then left a very short block ahead, onto a street that almost doubles back.  About a block along this street, make the first right.  There is a small pinkish sign for the hotel at this intersection.  Walk to the end of this street. When it ends, you will find your hotel at the intersection, across the street and just a bit to the right.

When the Hotel Santiago is full, we use instead a number of different hotels, in the vicinity of the station when we can get space, down by the water when we cannot.

Other hotels in the vicinity of the station are the Hôtel de la Gare and the Palombe Bleue.  Both more-or-less across the street from the station.  Turn right out of the station’s front door, and then turn left up the pedestrian staircase a short block ahead.  The Palombe Bleue is on your left, the Hôtel de la Gare straight ahead.

Down near the water (harder to get to, but in a nicer area when you get there):  the Hôtel Bellevue is on the Boulevard Leclerc.  You are unlikely to want to walk this (it is about a mile), but here are instructions just in case.  Turn left as you exit the station, and left again to cross over the tracks via the bridge that you come to a very long block away.  Follow the main street that this leads you, all the way through town, through a traffic circle, and down to second traffic circle at water level (the better part of a mile, but a pretty walk).  Go “straight” through the traffic circle (curving a bit to the left), following the Boulevard Général Leclerc.  The Hotel Bellevue is at number 36.

Also down near the water:  the Hôtel Valencia and the Lafon are on the Boulevard de la Mer, the ocean-front street.  You probably won’t want to walk this since it is about a mile and a half.

Alternatively, there is a bus that does this every 30 minutes or so, though it does not run late in the evening.  And taxis meet every train:  the fare would be about 10 €, plus a baggage charge if applicable.

Paying Your Hotel Bill
Your room has been pre-paid, as has breakfast if you are part of a package.  Only other meal, drink and phone charges should be paid by you.

Should the reception not be aware of this, show them your confirmation letter, which will say in both English and French that the room has been paid by Blue Marble, and which should have been stamped by the hotel (or sent from their e.mail address).  Should there still be a problem, go ahead and pay the room, so that you don’t wind up in the local slammer, or with your baggage confiscated.  But tell your Coordinator that you were required to as soon as you see him, so that he can go and get your money back.

Combatting Jet Lag
Trips starting with our Basque itinerary assemble on Saturday morning, but if you arrive via a Friday train we will have probably reserved a hotel room for you.  If you have just landed from the United States, we strongly suggest that you not use that hotel room, at least until 11p or so, since even a short nap when you arrive will ensure that you are wide awake and raring to go between 2 and 6a for the next couple of days.



What to do With Your Time in Hendaye
Hendaye is a pretty little town, though most people never figure this out because the old center is a few minutes' walk from the station.  To get there, turn left as you exit the station, and left again to cross over the tracks via the bridge that you come to a very long block away.  The town center is uphill to the right once you are across the bridge.

There is also a new, lower town, down by the beach (yes, there is a beautiful beach here).  To get there from the station: there are buses that do this every 30 minutes or so, on a couple of lines.  Schedules for one of these buses are posted at the stop in front of the station (the bus bound for Biarritz).  But there is a “bay bus” as well, that runs around the bay on both sides of the border, and it seems to run more often.

To walk, go across the bridge as if headed to the old town.  Follow the main street that this leads you, all the way through town and down to a traffic circle (the better part of a mile, but a pretty walk).  Then follow the bay around to the Centre Nautique, and turn right.  This will carry you across a little spit of land to the ocean.



Friday Dinner Options
Great shellfish (and other fresh fish) is available on the beach, at the obvious place, the only one sandwiched between the waterfront street and the sand.  There is a marvelous cider house near the Hotel Santiago, and a sort of a grimy but very colorful one opposite the Palombe Bleue.... And the Santiago's restaurant is fine, if you are staying there (or even if you aren't).  The Bellevue doesn't have a restaurant, but is close to all the waterfront places.

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