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The wine-making capital of France, Bordeaux is a connoisseur’s dream. Surrounded by some of the most internationally well-known farms, Bordeaux is perfectly situated to embark on an indulgent wine tour. There are many organised tours in the region but it is also quite possible to navigate the area independently. Many international car rental companies are represented in the city and the network of roads outside of the centre is easily figured out. Whether a day trip or even an overnight stay, travellers will find that there are plenty of appealing destinations less than a couple of hours outside of this great city.
Who to Book With
Located at the airport, the central railway station and at a few other centres in the city travellers will find many of the more popular car rental agencies. These include Budget, Avis, Hertz and Europcar. Online booking prior to departure is a great way to ensure that a car is waiting on arrival.
Best time to go
Bordeaux’s climate can best be described as temperate, displaying all four seasons. May to September mark the hottest months of the year and also the most crowded. Travellers who intend to visit the city during this time should definitely make advanced bookings as the prices of accommodation and car rentals tend to rise quite sharply.
Need to Know Essentials
Don’t forget to bring the following documents along when collecting your rental car:
- A passport valid for no less than six months
- The credit card used to make the booking
- An International Driver’s Permit
Driving in Bordeaux’s city centre isn’t recommended and should be left for day trips and excursions on the outskirts. Much of the city has been pedestrianised and is off limits to unauthorised vehicles. Travellers who are intent on navigating the centre, however, should definitely be in possession of an updated map. There are many surprise one-ways which tend to catch unfamiliar drivers off guard. Traffic during rush hour can be frustrating and those unfortunate enough to be stuck in the centre during these times should expect to add at least one hour to their travel time.
Finding parking in the city can be quite a hassle. Street parking is almost non-existent and there are many no-parking zones which generally are attached to steep fines. A few car parks and parking garages are found in the city but the hourly and daily rates are quite steep. The public transport system is quite efficient, and it is advised that travellers take full advantage of the city’s services.
Bordeaux boasts an impressive public transport system comprised of buses, trams and taxis. The network is operated by Connex and runs between 05:00 and 01:00. Much of the city centre can be navigated by walking but sites that are further afield generally require motorised modes of transport.
The bus network in the city is comprehensive, made up of over 70 routes with passengers being able travel to almost anywhere in Bordeaux. Tickets can be purchased from TBC agencies, the local bus stations and on the vehicles themselves, although bus drivers never have change so exact amounts are preferred. Single journey tickets go for about €1.40 but weekly and monthly passes can also be purchased and are definitely more economical.
The relatively new tramway, installed in 2003, is another great way to get around the city and convenient in that it connects to three of the major bus routes. There are fewer tram routes than bus routes but the service is a nifty way of getting through the compact inner city in a short period of time. There are no tram stations; commuters simply need to flag the trams down from the side of the road. The tram system is also a part of the TBC and thus ticketing works in the same way.
Taxis are available at any time of the day or night and while many can be hailed from the sidewalk, they can also be found congregating at the central railway station. Travellers who prefer to pre-book their taxi services can do so as there are plenty of companies on hand including Aquitaine Taxi and Cyber Taxi.
Bordeaux is a stunning city but the outskirts are home to gorgeous beaches, rolling hills and the most famous vineyards in the world. The city is the perfect location from which to explore the country’s famed wine region. All travellers need is a rented car and a sense of adventure.
Saint-Emilion - A visit to Bordeaux is simply not complete without a tour of at least one of the region’s famous wine farms. If one wine-making village is all you’ve got time for then it must be Saint-Emilion in the Libournais region. Here travellers will find a few great farms and chateaux that would be more than willing to allow a sampling session here and there.
Cadillac - Aside from wine farms, Bordeaux is also surrounded by quaint, inviting towns. Cadillac, the walled town located about 20 kilometres away from Bordeaux, is one such town. The most popular site here is definitely the Chateau Cadillac, a castle built during the 17th century.
Dune de Pyla - Another great day trip opportunity is perhaps the most famous sand dune in Europe, the Dune de Pyla. Located 60 kilometres outside of Bordeaux, the dune stands at an impressive 107 metres and is the perfect spot for adrenaline seekers who use it as a base from which to paraglide. Adventure aside, the dune also provides a stellar vantage point of the surrounding countryside.