True romantics will only approach Bordeaux by boat – and it’s certainly the best way to appreciate this fine city. Most of us make do with the train which is a cheap and efficient way of reaching Bordeaux from many parts of Europe. The city is about to move a little closer to Paris. The existing high-speed line from Paris to Tours is being extended to Bordeaux. When that new railway opens in 2017, Bordeaux will be just over two hours away from the French capital.
Bordeaux is one of France’s finest provincial cities. The compact and graceful heart of the Old Town drips with classical charm with plenty of fine frontages along the River Garonne. It’s a place to linger, certainly good for a two or three night stay. The city is an excellent base for excursions to the nearby vineyards; there are for example regular local trains to both Margaux and Pauillac. For sun, sea and sand just hop on a local train to Arcachon on the coast; its a summer excursion much favoured by the Bordelais. And, if the weather is against you, make time for Bordeaux’s world-class museums and thriving café culture.
The main railway station, Bordeaux St-Jean, lies south-east of the city centre. From here long-distance trains fan out to cities across France. Besides Paris, there are direct services to Marseille, Nice, Lille, Limoges, Strasbourg and a score of other cities. Local trains run up the Atlantic coast to La Rochelle and Nantes. There are also good services east to Périgueux and other communities in the Dordogne.
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