Practical Guide - how to get to and around Bordeaux, its vineyards and the region?

Published the 01/01/2024 in Useful Information

Bordeaux, the charming capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in southwestern France, is renowned for its exquisite wines, stunning architecture, and rich cultural heritage. Planning a trip to this picturesque city? In this comprehensive guide, we'll provide you with all the technical information you need to know to reach Bordeaux and navigate your way around once you're there. From transportation options to local travel tips, let's embark on a journey to discover the beauty of Bordeaux and the South West of France. 

Reaching Bordeaux

pelemele image de bordeaux

By Air - Bordeaux Merignac Airport 

Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport, located around 12 kilometers west of the city center, serves as the major international gateway. Several airlines offer direct flights from various European cities, including London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Barcelona.

From the airport, you can take a taxi, ride-sharing service, or the the shuttle to reach the city center and the train station.

NEW! Since April 2023, there is a direct tramway connection from the Airport to the city center (Hotel de Ville), in 30-40 minutes. It will costs you just the price of single tramway ticket, and it is included in the citypass if you bought one. 

No good flight connection from/to Bordeaux? There are other options available for you to arrive in the region. 

When planning a holiday around Bordeaux, there are several alternative airports that provide convenient access to the region. In addition to Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport, consider the following airports for your travel:

These alternative airports provide travelers with additional options for reaching Bordeaux and exploring the surrounding regions. Whether you choose Bergerac for the Dordogne, Toulouse for the Midi-Pyrénées, Bilbao and San Sebastian for the Basque Country, or Paris for a combined visit, each destination offers unique experiences and attractions to enhance your holiday in and around Bordeaux.

Our sustainable tips : the train! The fast train is just a two-hour ride from Paris Montparnasse... 

By Train: Bordeaux is well-connected to the French rail network, and the city's main train station, Gare de Bordeaux Saint-Jean, is a hub for high-speed trains. The TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) service provides good connections to major cities such as Paris, Lyon, Bruxelles and Amsterdam. Travelling from London to Bordeaux is also confortable. 

By Car: If you prefer driving, Bordeaux is accessible via the well-maintained French highway network. The A10 and A62 highways connect Bordeaux to Paris and Toulouse, respectively. Keep in mind that parking in the city center can be limited, so it's advisable to use public transportation or park-and-ride facilities. You have an electric car? Ask us for an eletric road trip in the region! 

In need of inspiration? Subscribe to our newsletter and receive the guide Bordeaux through the Seasons

Getting around

As you travel through Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the region's efficient train network and well-connected transportation systems make it convenient to explore these remarkable destinations. Whether you're drawn to the historic heritage of Cognac, the coastal charm of La Rochelle, the vibrant Basque Country, or the scenic wonders of Périgord Dordogne, each destination promises a unique and unforgettable experience in this captivating region of France.

photo vignoble bordelais

Here are some of our top destinations and our recommendations on how to reach them : 

Bordeaux vineyards

No, the vineyards is not in the city center of Bordeaux (with a small exception)...If you want to visit Medoc or Saint-Emilion, you will need to take the train or the car. 

If you really lack of time and just want a quick incursion, there are some exceptions with wine estates in the city center or close by, with the appelations of Pessac-Leognan. You can, for example, reach the Château Pape Clément by bus from Bordeaux city center or the Château Carmes Haut-Brion by tramway (stop François Mitterand), or use the city bikes to do so. 

We recommend: because you should not drink and drive, we strongly recommend to book a day tour for a full immersion in the vineyards. If you want to be autonomous, we can design an itinerary by train reaching lovely estates like Château de Cérons, Canon la Gaffelière in Saint-Emilion or visiting the famous appelation of Margaux. Otherwise, for those who have more time, we usually recommend itineraries combining a couple of nights in the city with a couple of nights at a winery to get the best experience. 

Arcachon and Cap Ferret 

Arcachon, a vibrant seaside town nestled along the Arcachon Bay, is known for its stunning beaches, charming promenades, and delectable seafood. To reach Arcachon from Bordeaux, you can take a direct train from Bordeaux Saint-Jean train station. The journey takes approximately 50 minutes, allowing you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the picturesque landscapes of the region. Upon arrival in Arcachon, you can explore the town's iconic landmarks, such as the Ville d'Hiver (Winter Town) with its elegant 19th-century villas, the bustling waterfront, and the vibrant town center.

Our recommendation : take the train to Arcachon, because car traffic can be terrible in the high season. If you wish to visit Cap Ferret, you can do it from Arcachon side, commuting by boat or - even better for the experience - rent out a private pinasse for a cruise on the bay. If you have time, the train to Arcachon stops in La Hume, a famous oyster village in Gujan-Mestras. You want to climb the famous Dune du Pilat ? There are shuttles available from Arcachon train station to the famous site. 


To reach the charming town of Cognac, renowned for its world-famous brandy, you can easily access it from Bordeaux. A train journey from Bordeaux to Cognac takes approximately two hours (not direct), and just 1h45 by car, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the region. Once there, explore the historic distilleries, visit the Cognac houses, and indulge in tastings to savor the exquisite flavors of this iconic spirit.

Our recommandation: many Cognac house (Hennessy, Remy Martin, Martell...) are located in the city center of Cognac or Jarnac, so you don't necessarily need a car to visit the vineyards. If you want to immerse yourself, we recommend to book a Bulle Verte Experience at one of these Cognac estates. 

La Rochelle

Situated on the picturesque Atlantic coast, La Rochelle is a captivating destination known for its maritime heritage and vibrant atmosphere. To reach La Rochelle, you can take a direct train from Bordeaux, with a journey time of around two hours. Upon arrival, wander through the charming Old Port, admire the stunning medieval architecture, visit the renowned Aquarium La Rochelle, and bask in the lively ambiance of this coastal gem. From there, you can easily access Ile de Ré with local transportation or rent a bike! 

Our recommandation: if you want to focus on La Rochelle and Ile de Ré, and Rochefort, the best is to use the train as car parking is expensive in the city and also on Ré Island. Otherwise, if you want to further explore Ile d'Oléron, Ile Madame or Rochefort, we recommend to have a car to move around. An alternative way to visit the area, and my recommendations, is to book a sailing trip around the islands of Charente : Aix - Ré - Oléron, with departure from La Rochelle. No better sustainable options! 

Basque Country

To explore the vibrant Basque Country, renowned for its unique culture and stunning landscapes, you can start your journey from Bordeaux. Traveling by train, you can reach Bayonne, the gateway to the Basque region, in approximately two hours. From there, immerse yourself in the rich Basque traditions, explore the charming coastal towns of Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz, sample delectable Basque cuisine, and venture into the breathtaking Pyrenees mountains. There is also a trainline to the hinterlands with stops in Cambo-les-Bains and Saint-Jean-Pied de Port.

Our recommendation: take the train from Bordeaux to Bayonne. From there, the best is to rent a car if you want to reach the furthest villages of the hinterlands like Ainhoa or the Aldudes Valley.  You can then come back to Bayonne or Biarritz to continue by train to Spain, or use your rental car for a day trip to Bilbao or San Sebastian. Ask us for a tailor-made itinerary around the Basque Country - french and spanish part, and go all the way to the wonders of Rioja! 

Périgord Dordogne

For a journey through picturesque landscapes, medieval towns, and culinary delights, the region of Périgord Dordogne is an ideal destination. From Bordeaux, you can take a direct train to Périgueux, the capital of the Dordogne department, with a travel time of approximately one hour. You can also reach by train the charming village of Sarlat-la-Canéda, discover the prehistoric wonders of Lascaux and Les Eyzies, and indulge in the region's gastronomic delights, including truffles and foie gras.

Our recommendation : while you can reach the Perigord by train, that's not so easy to move around with local transportation once you are there. We recommend a lovely road trip itinerary from Bordeaux to Perigord, through Saint-Emilion and Bergerac. And for conscious travellers, don't hesitate to ask us for an electric car rental and road trip. 

It is sometimes not too easy to find the perfect itinerary on your own, so do not hesitate to contact My Private French Travel for an interesting itinerary to discover our region smoothly.   To save money and time, and get tbe best experience in our region, contact us today to book your tailormade itineraries in the region!

Want to discover Bordeaux and its region?

Contact us

Cyrielle Nau My Private French Travel