Due to planned SNCF strikes on the day we were due to head back to Basel from Colmar meant that we needed alternative transport. A wave of fear passed through me when sitting at home editing a few blog posts watching the news pop up and seeing that the biggest strikes in years were about to hit France. What a nightmare.
Fortunately, where there is adversity there’s often a solution. In this case, Flixbus. A system similar to our National Express or Megabus in the UK that runs inter-city for a very good price. In a state of panic it was actually a pleasure to use their website as it’s so easy to book tickets. Simply select departure, destination and choose a time and price.
They even have handy maps that show the exact destination of their bus stops which is a godsend when you have never been to that town or city before. All we were required to have were passports (with travelling into another country) and the booking confirmation which you can either print at home or download on the Flixbus App for your phone.
We had a mid-morning departure time on a Sunday from Colmar. A time when the entire town is virtually deserted. Only The Little Tourist Train and couple of bakeries were open as we wandered the streets for the very last time on this trip. The Flixbus leaves from the stand on the corner of Rue Georges Lasch and Place de Gare, around a 15 minute walk from the centre. Displaying a distinctive large green ‘FLIXBUS’ sticker on the bus shelter window.
I decided to pass the time by getting us some souvenirs from the train station shop. Picking up some Duck Rillettes for €12 (£10.50) and a few snacks and drinks. It was a great move getting the mid-morning Flixbus as the first TER train service down to Basel wasn’t until late afternoon without any guarantee that it would even show up.
The bus arrived on time and appeared to be a double-decker coach. That was until we stepped aboard, quickly realising that the front seats were just a row of four and the remaining seating was above. So, in effect, no different to any other coach service.
It was a full-house on board, possibly due to the strikes. The service had set off from Strasbourg with a few pick up points in between ours so room was pretty tight. The journey began in probably the most confined and uncomfortable way possible – the people in front had reclined their seats adding to the hot weather outside with lack of air conditioning making for an unbearably hot ride.
When we did recline the seats back, the room seemed a little more generous. Even with the seats in a normal position it is a squeeze to get both yourself and any small bags in. The overhead lockers were tiny, just about big enough for a small, flat bag or briefcase. Saying that though there is plenty of room for large cases in the hold area – I would go for this if you have anything larger than a handbag.
I couldn’t fault the punctuality of the bus. The ride down was smooth and even got us into Basel 10 minutes before our scheduled arrival time. In total the whole ride came to just over an hour. Just 10 minutes longer than the train.
The cost of this journey came to €17.98 (£15.80) for two of us one-way. Outstanding value really and a complete life saver at the time. I can’t honestly say that I’d like to be sat on the bus for a trip across Europe but for short-hop distances I can’t really grumble too much. It saved us a lot of hassle and allowed us more time in beautiful Basel.