Traffic chaos in 2018 did little to endear the new-old French F1 venue to the Grand Prix going public. A new mobility plan in 2019 did much to remedy that with park-and-ride, more shuttle buses, dedicated lanes and better managed parking among some of the solutions. Now with a few tweaks Paul Ricard has one of the most comprehensive strategies for getting fans into the circuit with the least amount of hassle.
Getting to the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard
Marseille (44km), Toulon (33km) and Aix-en Provence (61km) all make good bases for Grand Prix goers. Nice at 165km away is a useful point of entry to the region but a bit far for the daily commute to the circuit.
Though Circuit Paul Ricard has the distinction of having an international airport on site in the form of Le Castellet Airport, this caters to private planes only and most visitors arriving by air will want to look for flights to either Marseille (MRS) which is closer, or Nice (NCE) which is favoured by many budget airlines like Easyjet.
Kiwi.com lets you search for the lowest cost flights and shows you route combinations that often don’t show up on other search engines. If you miss a connecting flight due to delay the Kiwi guarantee means you can take the next available flight at no extra cost.
Travel to the Circuit by Car or Motorbike
Once in the region driving is one of the most practical ways of getting to Paul Ricard, and cheaper than most shuttle buses.
Choose between parking at the circuit (free and paid) or drive part of the way and use the free park-and-ride services. You could also pick up one of the numerous shuttle buses to the track but bear in mind parking isn’t included at the departure points.
If there are at least four of you in the car you can use the exclusive carpool lane near the circuit, park at a dedicated parking area and use a free shuttle bus to the get to the circuit gates. Go here to register.
While there is no shortage of car hire companies at the airport, you’ll get better deals reserving one in advance using a search aggregator like RentalCars.com that searches multiple car hire companies at once for the best prices.
Directions to the circuit
From the A50 motorway, take exit 11 and follow Le Beausset – Aubagne – Circuit du Castellet.
Paul Ricard has partnered with Waze, and organisers recommend using the app to get up to the minute info on traffic near the circuit. Road closures and diversions probably won’t be reflected on your usual GPS so it’s worth paying attention to the app as well as looking out for circuit staff or the local gendarmes directing traffic.
Free parking is provided at a car park near the circuit, as well as a a free park and ride service and a couple of premium parking options.
All ticket holders can use the parking lot near the circuit and there’s no need to register or buy a separate ticket. Just show up and you will be directed to the nearest available car park depending on which road you arrive by.
For motorcycles there is a dedicated asphalt parking area and crash helmet lockers are provided.
Fast Park & Premium Parking
For most spectators the free parking will be perfectly sufficient but if you want to get less exercise, beat a hasty getaway or you’re worried about getting your Lamborghini stuck in the mud, there are paid options to consider.
Fast Park access means you’ll park up in the parking area closest to your grandstand. Choose between Fast Park 1 for St Baume, Fast Park 2 for the Chicane grandstands and the main grandstand or Fast Park 3 for Le Beausset and Virage du Pont. Tickets for Friday to Sunday cost €49.
Premium parking is not only a hard standing, tarmacked car park it’s also right in the centre of the circuit meaning quick access to your grandstand. It will also grant you access to a privilege lane meaning less time spent in traffic. Tickets for Friday to Sunday cost €149.
Both Fast Park and Premium parking can be booked here.
Park-and-ride buses are free and with a dedicated lane are a quicker option than parking at the circuit. You don’t need to buy a ticket but you do need to register as parking is limited to 6,000 spaces.
There are stations at Toulon, Marseille, Nice and Aix-en-Provence. TGV connections to these towns make it very convenient entry point from other destinations on the Paris – Marseille line or the Genoa – Nice – Barcelona line.
Once in the region there are shuttle buses from several major towns and cities but it can work out less expensive to continue traveling to the circuit by train and then avail of a free shuttle bus to cover the last leg of your trip.
Though the nearest train station to the circuit is Bandol at 20km away there are no shuttle services from here and unless you arrange one in advance it could be hard to get a taxi.
A better plan is to book a train to La Ciotat, just 21km away and catch the free shuttle bus to the circuit just 35 minutes away.
You can search train schedules across multiple operators simultaneously to and from just about any station in Europe using Omio (formerly GoEuro) and purchase tickets for the same cost as buying direct from the train lines.
French Grand Prix Shuttle Bus
There are no fewer than 26 shuttle bus routes to Paul Ricard, not including the park and ride services. Using dedicated lanes these are the best way to avoid the worst of the traffic. Some of these are free but require registration in advance and for others you’ll need to buy a ticket.
Shuttle bus from local towns (free)
Free buses from the nearby towns of Saint Cyr sur Mer, La Ciotat and Le Castellet are ideal for the budget conscious F1 fan, sans automobile. Taking a train to La Ciotat for instance and hopping in a free bus is one of the cheapest was to get to Paul Ricard.
Don’t confuse this with park and ride however as there is no parking included at these departure points. To use these services you’ll need to register in advance.
- Buses operate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- There are departures every 4 minutes
- These shuttles reach the circuit in 35 minutes
- Departures are from 6.30am to 2pm
- Return buses from 4pm to 10pm
Regional shuttle buses
Although some are a little pricey, shuttle buses from 11 towns and cities in the south of France offer great convenience if you happen to be staying in one of these towns.
Salon de Provence
These depart at a fixed time between 6am to 7.45am depending on the route. Returning from the track all services leave at 6pm.
Services are only available on Saturday and Sunday, with the exception of the Aix-En-Provence, Marseille and Toulon buses which run on Friday as well.
Return tickets cost between €39 and €59 each day and can be bought here. These will be issued as an e-ticket.
Domestic and international shuttle buses
From further afield there are bus services directly to the Grand Prix circuit from 7 cities in France and 5 cities internationally. These will be in operation on Sunday only.
Requiring very early starts and travelling through the night in some cases these are probably best avoided if you plan on being awake during the Grand Prix.
The 7 cities in France are Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Montpellier, Perpignan, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse and Valence.
5 international buses leave from Barcelona, Milan, Turin, Amsterdam and Eindhoven.
More details about buying tickets for these shuttle buses will be available closer to the time.