One of the biggest bonuses with living in Argelès-sur-Mer within the Pyrénées-Orientales Department has been Le Bus à 1€ (the €1 Bus), a public transportation system providing bus service throughout the department with dozens of bus routes to scores of cities. This is an amazingly useful and economical way for Tracy and I to travel since we have elected not to buy a car.
With a €1 Bus stop 100 yards from our front door, it is actually more convenient for us to take the €1 Bus to Perpignan to go to the large supermarket shopping there than to walk to the smaller supermarket that is in Argelès. The current bus schedule list 19 buses a day from Argelès to Perpignan, Monday through Saturday, starting at 6:50 am until 8:40 pm. There is a reduced bus schedule on Sundays. In July and August there are additional routes during the summer season connecting the small beach towns along the Côte Vermeille. Additionally there is an expanded schedules for regular routes during these peak summer months.
The €1 Bus service is provided by the Conseil Général des Pyrénées-Orientales, an elected board of 31 Conseillers Généraux (one for each of the 31 Cantons of the Pyrénées-Orientales) and a Chairman. Members of the Conseiller Général are elected for a 6 year term. The Conseil Général decides public policy at the department level similar to the role and responsibilities of a county commission in the United States.
For the price of a single Euro each (currently about $1.11), we can reach nearly anywhere in the Pyrénées-Orientales. The tickets also allow transfers for two hours to other bus routes traveling in the same direction within the €1 Bus system. That means we can take the bus from Argelès to Perpignan for €1, do some shopping, get on a different bus still outbound within the two-hour transfer time limit, and go to Prade for lunch. A return ticket for €1 each will bring us back to Argelès. A traveler would spend more on gasoline than the €2 cost of a round-trip on the bus. (Currently gasoline costs about €1.37 a liter, about $1.50. There are 3.8 liters to a gallon, so gasoline would cost about $5.70 a gallon.)
The buses are clean, modern, and comfortable motor coaches. They are dog-friendly and Sami the MinPin can travel with us with the use of a travel bag while she is inside the bus. There are overhead racks for backpacks and under-the-bus-carriage storage for large suitcases or even bicycles. There are even several “Réso 66” stops, “Park and Ride” locations where commuters to park their cars for free and let the bus drive them to work or school. The bus drivers are friendly and helpful, but pretty much they exclusively speak French (if the drivers do speak a second language it’s most probably Spanish or Catalan.) But between our very basic French language skills, pointing at the stop we want on the map, or showing the driver a promotional brochure for a tourist sight, we have not had any problem communicating. (And there is always the red “Stop” button to indicate that you want off the bus.)
Tracy and I have been making great use of the €1 Bus for our Micro-Adventures. With just €4, a camera, a bottle of water, an inquisitive MinPin, and a picnic lunch, we have an entire day’s entertainment exploring in the Pyrénées-Orientales.