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In Transit: Navigating Bordeaux


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Martynne Quigley



Welcome to Bordeaux, a city rich in history, culture, and gastronomy. Located in southwestern France, Bordeaux is renowned for its world-class wines, stunning architecture, and vibrant atmosphere. As one of the largest cities in the country, Bordeaux offers a plethora of experiences for both locals and visitors alike.


Known as the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux is home to numerous vineyards and chateaux that produce some of the finest wines in the region. From bold reds to crisp whites, the city’s wine heritage is deeply intertwined with its identity. A visit to Bordeaux is incomplete without indulging in a wine tasting tour or exploring the exquisite cellars of the prestigious wineries.


Aside from its renowned vineyards, Bordeaux boasts an impressive architectural landscape. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring a blend of classic and modern architectural styles. Stroll along the picturesque quays of the Garonne River, where you’ll find iconic landmarks such as the Place de la Bourse and the Grand Theatre. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the historic streets, lined with charming shops, cafes, and restaurants.


Bordeaux is also known for its lively cultural scene. The city is home to numerous museums, galleries, and theaters, showcasing a diverse range of art and performances. Visit the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art or catch a ballet at the Grand Theatre. With its vibrant arts community, Bordeaux never fails to inspire and captivate.


As you embark on your journey through Bordeaux, it is important to familiarize yourself with the city’s transportation options. From public transportation to biking and walking, there are various ways to navigate Bordeaux and make the most of your time in this enchanting city. In the following sections, we will delve into the different modes of transportation available in Bordeaux and provide you with valuable tips to ensure a seamless and enjoyable exploration of the city.


Getting to Bordeaux

Getting to Bordeaux is a breeze, thanks to its excellent transportation connections. The city is serviced by the Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport, which is located just a short distance from the city center. The airport offers numerous domestic and international flights, making it easy for both domestic and international travelers to reach Bordeaux.


If you prefer to travel by train, Bordeaux is conveniently connected to major cities across France. The Gare de Bordeaux-Saint-Jean is the city’s main train station and is served by high-speed trains, including the TGV, which offers direct connections to Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. The train journey to Bordeaux is not only efficient but also offers stunning views of the French countryside.


For those who prefer to travel by car, Bordeaux is easily accessible via major highways. The A10 and A63 highways connect Bordeaux to other parts of France, while the A89 highway provides access to cities in the east. Keep in mind that traffic can be heavy, especially during peak travel times, so it’s important to plan your journey accordingly.


Once you arrive in Bordeaux, you’ll find a wide range of transportation options to get you to your accommodation and around the city. From public transportation to biking and walking, Bordeaux offers a variety of ways for visitors to explore and navigate its charming streets.


Whether you’re arriving by air, by train, or by car, getting to Bordeaux is just the beginning of an incredible adventure in this captivating city.


Public Transportation in Bordeaux

Bordeaux has an efficient and well-connected public transportation system, making it easy to navigate the city and its surrounding areas. The primary modes of public transportation in Bordeaux include the tram, bus, and boat.


The tram network in Bordeaux is extensive and covers the majority of the city. With four tram lines (A, B, C, and D), you can easily reach key attractions, neighborhoods, and transportation hubs. The trams are modern, spacious, and equipped with air conditioning, providing a comfortable way to travel around the city. The tram system operates from early morning until midnight, with frequency ranging from 5 to 10 minutes during peak hours and 15 minutes during off-peak times.


In addition to the tram network, Bordeaux has a comprehensive bus system that complements the tram routes. The bus network covers areas not serviced by the tram, including residential neighborhoods and outskirts of the city. The buses operate from early morning until late evening, with varying frequencies depending on the route and time of day. The buses are equipped with real-time information displays, making it easy to track arrival times and plan your journey.


If you prefer a unique and scenic way to explore Bordeaux, consider taking a boat ride along the Garonne River. The BatCub is a public boat service that operates between various stops along the river, allowing you to enjoy picturesque views of the city while traveling to different destinations. The BatCub service is especially popular during the summer months when visitors can take advantage of the pleasant weather while cruising along the Garonne.


To use public transportation in Bordeaux, you will need to purchase a ticket or pass. Tickets can be purchased at tram and bus stations, as well as from ticket machines located at various stops. Alternatively, you can use a contactless payment card such as a Navigo or TBM card to tap and pay for your journey. It’s important to keep in mind that ticket inspections are common, and failure to present a valid ticket can result in fines.


With its reliable and extensive public transportation network, getting around Bordeaux is convenient, affordable, and eco-friendly. Whether you choose to explore the city by tram, bus, or boat, you’ll have no trouble navigating Bordeaux and experiencing all that this charming city has to offer.


Exploring Bordeaux by Tram

One of the most convenient and efficient ways to explore Bordeaux is by tram. The city’s tram network is extensive and covers a large portion of the city, making it easy to reach popular attractions, neighborhoods, and transportation hubs.


With four tram lines (A, B, C, and D) that crisscross the city, you can easily navigate Bordeaux and discover its beauty. The trams in Bordeaux are modern, comfortable, and equipped with air conditioning, providing a pleasant ride even on hot summer days.


The tram system operates from early morning until midnight, with frequency ranging from 5 to 10 minutes during peak hours and 15 minutes during off-peak times. This frequent service ensures that you won’t have to wait long to catch a tram, allowing you to make the most of your time in Bordeaux.


The tram lines connect key areas of the city, such as the train station, city center, and popular neighborhoods. Line A runs from the northwest to the southeast, passing through the city center and connecting to key landmarks such as the Place de la Bourse and the Rue Sainte-Catherine, which is one of the longest shopping streets in Europe.


Line B, on the other hand, runs from the north to the south, providing access to attractions such as the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art and the Jardin Public, a beautiful park where locals and visitors gather to relax and enjoy the outdoors.


Line C and Line D complete the tram network, providing connections to different parts of the city. They are particularly useful for accessing residential areas, universities, and other important destinations in Bordeaux.


To use the tram, you will need to purchase a ticket or pass before boarding. Tickets can be purchased at tram stations, ticket machines, or on the TBM mobile app. It’s important to validate your ticket in the machines located inside the trams to ensure that it is valid for your journey.


The tram system in Bordeaux is not just a means of transportation; it’s also an opportunity to take in the city’s beauty and charm. As you ride the tram, you’ll have a chance to admire the stunning architecture, vibrant streets, and lively atmosphere that make Bordeaux so special.


Exploring Bordeaux by tram is not only convenient but also offers a unique perspective of the city. So hop on board, sit back, and enjoy the journey as you uncover all that Bordeaux has to offer.


Navigating Bordeaux by Bus

In addition to the tram network, Bordeaux has a comprehensive bus system that provides an alternative way to navigate the city. The bus routes in Bordeaux cover areas that are not directly serviced by the tram, including residential neighborhoods and outskirts of the city.


The bus network in Bordeaux operates from early morning until late evening, and the frequency of buses varies depending on the route and the time of day. During peak hours, you can expect buses to arrive every 10 to 15 minutes, while off-peak times may have less frequent service.


Bordeaux’s buses are equipped with modern amenities, such as air conditioning and real-time information displays. These displays show the estimated arrival times of the buses, allowing passengers to plan their journeys more effectively.


To navigate the bus system, you can refer to bus stop maps and schedules available at each stop, or you can use the TBM mobile app for real-time information and route planning. The app provides a user-friendly interface where you can input your starting point and destination to receive recommended bus routes, estimated travel times, and any necessary transfers.


When using the bus, it is important to have the correct fare ready before boarding. You can purchase a single-ticket from the bus driver upon entry, but keep in mind that drivers only accept contactless payment cards or exact change. Alternatively, you can use a Navigo card or TBM card, which can be topped up and used for multiple journeys without the need for cash.


Buses in Bordeaux are accessible to passengers with mobility challenges, with designated seating areas and low floors for easy boarding. The bus drivers are also trained to assist passengers with disabilities or special needs.


The bus system in Bordeaux is a convenient option for exploring the city, especially if you want to venture beyond the reach of the tram lines. It provides access to neighborhoods, attractions, and landmarks that may not be easily accessible by other means of transportation.


As you navigate Bordeaux by bus, you’ll have the opportunity to see different parts of the city and experience its diversity. So, hop on board, sit back, and let the bus take you on an adventure through the enchanting streets of Bordeaux.


Getting Around Bordeaux by Bike

Bordeaux is a bike-friendly city, and exploring it on two wheels is not only a convenient mode of transportation but also a delightful way to experience the city’s charm. With its flat terrain and well-developed cycling infrastructure, Bordeaux offers an ideal environment for cycling enthusiasts and casual riders alike.


The city of Bordeaux has implemented an extensive network of bike paths and lanes, making it safe and enjoyable to navigate the city by bike. These dedicated cycling routes run alongside main roads, through parks, and along the riverfront, allowing cyclists to travel efficiently and comfortably.


Bordeaux has a bike-sharing program known as V³, which provides a convenient option for visitors who don’t have their own bicycle. With numerous bike stations scattered throughout the city, you can rent a bike on the go and return it to a different station when you’re done. Simply download the V³ app, register, and follow the instructions to unlock a bike for your use.


If you prefer to explore Bordeaux on a guided bike tour, there are several companies that offer bike rental and organized tours. These tours provide a knowledgeable guide who will take you on a route that highlights the city’s landmarks, hidden gems, and local culture. It’s a fantastic way to learn about Bordeaux’s history and discover its unique character while enjoying a leisurely ride.


Cycling through Bordeaux allows you to easily reach popular attractions, such as the Place de la Bourse, the Esplanade des Quinconces, and the historic district of Saint-Michel. You can also pedal your way to the quays of the Garonne River, where you can take in breathtaking views or relax at one of the riverside cafes.


Bordeaux is a city that embraces the eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle, and biking is at the forefront of this movement. It not only reduces traffic congestion but also promotes a healthier and more active way of exploring the city.


When cycling in Bordeaux, it is important to follow traffic rules and be mindful of pedestrians. Remember to wear a helmet, use bike lights if riding at night, and securely lock your bike when not in use.


Whether you choose to rent a bike from the V³ program, join a guided bike tour, or bring your own bicycle, exploring Bordeaux by bike offers a unique and memorable experience. So hop on, pedal away, and embrace the freedom and joy of discovering Bordeaux on two wheels.


Discovering Bordeaux on Foot

If you truly want to immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of Bordeaux, there’s no better way to explore than on foot. The city’s compact size and pedestrian-friendly streets make it a perfect destination for leisurely strolls and self-guided walking tours.


One of the main advantages of exploring Bordeaux on foot is the opportunity to discover the intricate details of its stunning architecture. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting a harmonious blend of classic and contemporary designs. Take a leisurely walk through the historic streets, and you’ll encounter beautifully restored buildings, intricate facades, and charming hidden courtyards.


Bordeaux’s city center is adorned with open squares and picturesque plazas that invite you to take a moment to soak in the atmosphere. Place de la Bourse, with its grand reflection in the Miroir d’eau, and Place du Parlement, with its elegant fountain, are just a few of the enchanting squares where you can pause and marvel at the surroundings.


As you explore Bordeaux on foot, you’ll also come across bustling markets, charming boutiques, and inviting cafés. Rue Sainte-Catherine, one of the longest shopping streets in Europe, is a vibrant hub of activity where you can indulge in retail therapy and stop for a coffee or a bite to eat.


Bordeaux is also home to numerous parks and green spaces where you can retreat from the bustling city streets. The Jardin Public, with its perfectly manicured lawns and beautiful botanical gardens, is a tranquil oasis where you can relax and enjoy nature’s beauty.


For those looking to dive deeper into Bordeaux’s history and culture, there are several self-guided walking tours available. These tours provide detailed maps and information about the city’s landmarks, allowing you to delve into its rich heritage at your own pace. From the historic Saint-Michel district to the vibrant Chartrons neighborhood, each step will uncover new stories and insights about Bordeaux’s past.


While walking around Bordeaux, it is important to pay attention to traffic and follow pedestrian signals. Bordeaux’s streets can be quite busy, especially during peak hours, so be mindful of your surroundings and make use of designated crosswalks when crossing the road.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a culture lover, or simply seeking to absorb the unique ambiance of Bordeaux, exploring the city on foot is a must. So lace up your walking shoes, grab a map, and set off on an unforgettable adventure through the streets of Bordeaux.


Exploring Bordeaux’s Surroundings

While Bordeaux itself offers a wealth of attractions and experiences, the city’s surroundings are equally enticing, making it an ideal base for day trips and exploring the wider region.


Just a short distance from Bordeaux, you’ll find the sprawling vineyards and prestigious wineries that have contributed to the city’s fame as a wine capital. Embark on a wine tour to the nearby Médoc, Saint-Émilion, or Pessac-Léognan regions, where you can indulge in wine tastings, learn about the winemaking process, and witness the breathtaking landscapes of rolling vineyards. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply appreciate the beauty of the countryside, exploring Bordeaux’s wine regions is a must-do activity.


The Atlantic coast is also within easy reach of Bordeaux, offering a refreshing escape from the city. Visit the stunning sandy beaches of Arcachon, where you can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, and taking in magnificent views of the dune du Pilat, the highest sand dune in Europe. For surf enthusiasts, head to Lacanau and Cap Ferret, known for their excellent waves and water sports opportunities.


If you’re interested in history and heritage, the nearby Dordogne region is a treasure trove of medieval towns, picturesque villages, and ancient castles. Explore the charming town of Sarlat-la-Canéda, known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, or visit the iconic castles such as Castelnaud-la-Chapelle and Beynac-et-Cazenac perched on the hills overlooking the Dordogne River.


Bordeaux’s surrounding countryside is also dotted with charming châteaus and gardens, offering a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the region’s nobility. Château de la Brède, Château de Roquetaillade, and Château de Vayres are just a few examples of the many exquisite estates that are open to visitors.


Many of these destinations can be reached by public transportation or through organized tours from Bordeaux. Whether you choose to rent a car and explore at your own pace or join a guided excursion, the region surrounding Bordeaux is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical wonders.


When planning your exploration of Bordeaux’s surroundings, keep in mind that some attractions may have seasonal opening hours or require advance bookings, especially during peak tourist seasons. It’s always a good idea to check the availability and make necessary arrangements in advance to make the most of your day trips.


With Bordeaux as your starting point, you have the opportunity to delve into the diverse and captivating landscapes that surround the city. Whether it’s indulging in wine tastings, relaxing on the beach, or delving into history and culture, the possibilities for exploration are endless.



Bordeaux is a city that captivates visitors with its rich history, vibrant culture, and exquisite wine heritage. From exploring the charming streets of the city center to venturing into the surrounding regions, Bordeaux offers a variety of experiences that cater to all interests.


Whether you choose to navigate Bordeaux by tram, bus, bike, or on foot, the city’s efficient and accessible transportation options make it easy to get around and discover its hidden gems. The tram system takes you through the heart of the city, while buses offer a convenient way to reach neighborhoods beyond the tram lines. Exploring Bordeaux by bike allows you to embrace the city’s eco-friendly ethos, and walking through the streets allows you to fully appreciate its stunning architecture and lively atmosphere.


While Bordeaux itself has much to offer, its surroundings beckon to be explored. From the world-renowned wine regions that surround the city to the picturesque beaches of the Atlantic coast and the medieval towns of the Dordogne, there is no shortage of day trip options. Sampling the finest wines, lounging on sandy shores, and discovering historical treasures are just a few of the incredible experiences waiting just beyond Bordeaux’s borders.


As you navigate Bordeaux and its surroundings, it’s important to plan your activities in advance to make the most of your time. Check for opening hours, book tours when necessary, and explore at your own pace. Whether you’re a wine enthusiast, history buff, nature lover, or simply seeking to immerse yourself in the distinct French joie de vivre, Bordeaux is sure to captivate and leave you with unforgettable memories.


So, embark on your Bordeaux adventure, savor the flavors, explore the streets, and soak in the richness of this enchanting city. Bon voyage!