Deux-Sevres is well situated for travel from the UK; there's a good choice of airports, it's within a 5 hour drive from the north coast ferry ports - depending on whether your destination is the north or south of the department; and rail travel from London St Pancras, changing at Lille or Paris.
Travel by air
The two main airports are at La Rochelle (Charente Maritime) and Poitiers (Vienne), which have flights to the UK throughout the year. In addition there are airports at Bordeaux, Limoges, Nantes and Tours in neighbouring departments.
UK airports with flights to Poitiers and La Rochelle are Cork, Dublin, Manchester, Southampton, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Castletown, Leeds/Bradford, London Gatwick and London Stansted. Flight times are generally under 2 hours – I recently checked my travel time door to door from my French home just north of Niort to the front door of my mother-in-law’s flat in Norfolk, which included collecting a hire car at London Stansted, at 7 hours.
Poitiers Biard airport is easily accessed from the ring road 3 km west of Poitiers. It's changed a great deal since Buzz (KLM) flights brought the first passengers from Stansted UK. Arrivals was a portacabin and the baggage conveyor was a wooden bench with rollers! Since Buzz (owned by KLM) and then Ryanair introduced daily flights to and from London Stansted, expansion at the airport has been considerable. The Arrivals and Departure hall is a new modern building, the security area uses the latest technology and there is a comfortable departure lounge overlooking the runway.
Unfortunately it does mean that Ryanair can dictate it's terms for using the airport; a couple of years ago the airline cancelled all winter schedule flights, which had a knock-on effect not only on people visiting the department and its neighbours, but also business - many people, including French, commute weekly for work.
L’Oree du Ciel, the bar/restaurant, is on the 1st floor of the Rotunda, an historic part of the airport, with a panoramic view over the surrounding countryside and runway of the airport, including the gliding club opposite.
There is ample parking, for which there is a charge, with short stay and long term spaces, and car hire desks including Eurocar, Hertz, Budget, Alamo and National.
Address: Poitiers Airport, Biard, F-86000 Poitiers
Tel: 0033 5 49 30 04 40
Website http://www.poitiers.aeroport.fr/index.php, click on the Union Jack for the English version
Ryanair has a choice of flights from Poitiers to London Stansted, Birmingham, and introduced a summer schedule in 2009 to Edinburgh.
La Rochelle Aeroport Ile de Re is, as you would expect, situated right on the coast just off the ring road approaching the spectacular bridge to the Ile de Re. I flew into La Rochelle in April 2001 on the very first Buzz passenger flight. It was at the time of foot and mouth in the UK, so all passengers, before setting foot on French tarmac, had to step into a porcelain shower tray full of disinfectant! A red carpet was laid out leading us to the arrival hall, an oompah band was happily trumpeting slightly out of tune and a couple of ground hostesses handed us all a carrier bag full of tourist information brochures, a small jar of sea salt (local product) and, even better, a bottle of Pineau de Charentes – the local liqueur!
Radio and TV reporters jostled to interview French passengers as they waited in Arrivals for their baggage, whilst the customs/douane scurried excitedly around with a portable wooden desk, trying to decide where to place it so they could examine our passports!
Happily things have moved on, there is now a very pleasant departure lounge overlooking the runway, a hospitable bar and small restaurant, and a baggage carousel. There’s a large car park with short and long term spaces, and charges are very reasonable.
UK airlines using La Rochelle are
Ryanair, with flights to London Stansted and Dublin
Flybe with flights to Glasgow, Manchester, Southampton and Birmingham
EasyJet with flights to Bristol and London Gatwick
Jet2 with flights to Leeds/Bradford and Edinburgh.
Aer Arann has flights to Cork
Ryanair is the only airline operating a winter schedule.
Aeroport La Rochelle Ile de Re, rue du Jura, 17000 La Rochelle.
Tel. 0033 5 46 42 86 70
http://www.larochelle.aeroport.fr/EN/acces.htm with details in English.
Approximate distances and times for travelling to Deux-Sevres are
Calais 680 kms 6 hrs 20 mins
Boulogne 649 kms 6 hours
Dieppe 525 kms 5 hrs. 36 mins
Le Havre 475 kms 5 hrs 8 mins
Caen 422 kms 4 hrs 20 mins
Cherbourg 540 kms 5 hrs 39 mins
Saint Malo 397 kms 4 hrs 8 mins
Most travel is by motorway and toll roads
Travelling by Train
Eurostar runs from London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford. Platform changes are in Lille, to catch the direct TGV to Poitiers, or change in Paris. Paris change involves transferring from Gare du Nort to Montparnasse, use a direct metro line between the 2 stations. Details of train timetables on Eurostar and SNCF websites.