Thursday, 16 February 2017

Angoulême, France

Angoulême, in south west France, lies roughly 130 kilometres from Bordeaux.  The town is believed to date back to the first century.  Today, Angoulême is home to 40,000-50,000 people, although the surrounding urban area takes the population a little above 100,000.

A core network of nine bus services operating within Angoulême is provided by STGA (website only in French).  These are numbered from 1 to 9.

I visited Angoulême only briefly, in August 2016.  I found single-deck buses operating.  These had three sets of doors, a layout which is quite common for urban buses in European towns and cities.

Some were carrying the standard fleet livery of white with red relief.




Others carry colourful advertising liveries.

I noticed a hybrid-powered bus operating among the conventional ones.


The STGA fleet does include some articulated buses.  However, I did not notice any of them operating when I was there, on a Saturday afternoon.

In addition to the nine routes operating through the centre of town, STGA also operates a further eleven services in the suburbs.  These services provide onward connections from routes 1 to 9 at suburban interchange points, serving the more outlying districts of
Angoulême.  Most of these suburban services are provided by taxi-buses, with pre-booking required.

On Sundays and on public holidays, a more limited network is provided by four routes, lettered from A to D.  These operate only from around midday until early evening.

Single journey tickets are sold on the buses.  At the time of writing, these cost €1.80, and are valid for one hour with unlimited interchanges within that time.

A wider, and cheaper, range of tickets is sold at local kiosks and agents.  The single (one hour) ticket costs €1.40 if bought in advance; 3-journey and 10-journey tickets are available.  There is also an all-day ticket, priced at €3.50.  Monthly and annual tickets are also available.

STGA also offers group tickets for up to 5 and up to 10 people travelling together for a single (one hour) journey.  These give significant savings compared to buying individual tickets.  

Bus services linking Angoulême with the surrounding district are co-ordinated by the Charente public authority (website only in French).  These services operate from outside Angoulême's railway station.

Most of the vehicles I saw on these services were high-floor single-deckers.

I also spotted one minibus.

In some cases, the route numbers duplicate those used by STGA.  This is illustrated here, as the minibus is operating on Charente route 1 (not to be confused with the STGA service using the same number).


One route, linking Angoulême with Brie, is branded as "Reseau Vert" (green network).  One of the vehicles I noted was in this special green livery.


However, I also noted a vehicle in the standard colours operating on the Reseau Vert service.

Fares on the Charente network, including Reseau Vert, are very simple indeed - €1 for any journey, making them even cheaper than STGA's urban services within Angoulême.

During the summer months, a road train provides sightseeing tours around Angoulême.

The tours are operated by Le Train des Valois (website in French only).  The tours operate at weekends from Easter to around the end of September, rising to 6 days per week during June and daily through July and August.