FAQ - Practical Questions

The team at MyDestinationBordeaux has put together some commonly asked questions about the Bordeaux area and questions one seems to wonder about for any trip. If you have other quiries about Bordeaux contact us and we’ll get back to you with an answer and add it to the list to help other travelers planning a visit.

1 - Do I have to speak French?

Yes and No. In larger centres there is usually someone around to recue your attempts to communicate and hotels will always have English speakers on staff to help you with information.  On the other hand, knowing some basic French Phrases will make your stay in France more enjoyable. Add them to your own personalized guide. If you forget your English/French dictionary you can always drop in to Bradley’s, in Bordeaux, the largest English bookstore in Southwest France.


2 -  What is the best time of the year to visit Bordeaux?

Spring, summer, fall and winter all have their charm. Summer of course is terrific for beaches and lots of sun without the humidity of other hot destinations. Spring is gloriously in bloom and weather is gentle and sunny. Tourists begin to grow in numbers by the end of May. Fall is harvest time and fun events like the Médoc Marathon complete with ‘wine stops’ are in full swing. Winter weather can bring a bit of snow but temperatures rarely go below 0 degrees Centigrade - a Bordeaux weekend of gourmet restaurants, warm French hospitality, châteaux hopping and shopping is a fantastic break from dreary overcast winters. 

3 - How do I get there?

The Bordeaux Merignac International Airport is well served by over 35 airlines with connections to other international hubs like London Gatwiick, Montreal, Paris (CDG &Orly) or Amsterdam. The Gare Saint Jean train station of Bordeaux handles over 350 trains a day. You’ll have lots of choice coming from Paris and other European cities. Busses are central and reach most regional destinations.

4 - What should I take?

Pack light, pack your favourites of the season and you’ll thank yourself for not having to drag around a lot of things that you don’t end up wearing anyway. A small back pack is always handy to consolidate info, phone, camera, water bottle etc. For any trip it’s a good idea to have photo copies of your passport, driver’s license and birth certificate. Keep these in a separate envelope just in case. If you like to walk, bring good sturdy shoes that double for street or country hikes. The city of Bordeaux and small villages around are best seen walking. Dressier shoes can double for both walking and dining out. For women, a scarf and short jacket can change an outfit into something dressier for dinner and double for cooler weather. Remember sunscreen and a hat although the French don’t seem to be attracted to sun hats as a rule. 

5 - How do I get from the Bordeaux airport to my hotel?

Take the Jet Bus or taxi from the Bordeaux Merignac Airport.

6 - What should I know about trains to Bordeaux?  

Bordeaux is served by over 350 trains everyday with many choices to and from Paris. You can buy your tickets on line from www.voyage-sncf.com or at any station. SNCF will even send your tickets to your country before you travel. Remember to validate your ticket at a yellow box just before you get on the train - the conductor will check. First and 2nd class seats are often so similar that it’s not necessary to upgrade. French trains are excellent and usually on time, but, give yourself extra time if you have flights to catch in other cities, work stoppages can happen. Leaving Bordeaux, try to avoid Paris for any travel connections during the famous Parisian rush hour. Viva la France!

7 - Can I bring my pet?

Yes. Most hotels and inns welcome a well behaved pet and may charge a nominal fee.
Dogs or cats must have the correct papers entering France. From the UK, Canada or the USA you need a ‘passport’ with confirmation that they are microchipped and their vaccinations are up to date – particularly rabies. You must keep their vaccinations up to date while in the country. You can bring in up to three animals at once. If you’re coming to France by ferry or ship from a nearby country, notify the company as some will allow your pet in your cabin while others may insist you leave them in your vehicle. Contact your government services for the latest pet regulations. If your pet should fall ill during your stay, local newspapers have listings under ‘Úrgences’ for both doctors and vets who are on call over the weekend. 

 8 - Where can I exchange currency into Euros?

At the Bordeaux Merignac Airport you can exchange currency at the exchange booth in Hall A.  There are also several ATM machines in Hall B. In the city of Bordeaux you will find several banks on the Cours de l’Entendence, Cours du Chapeau Rouge and Rue de l’Espirit des Lois to assist you. Around central Bordeaux there are numerous 24 hour ATMs for a quick way to get Euros and at regular bank rates.

9 - What is it like to drive in the Bordeaux area? 

Driving in Bordeaux is on the right hand side of the road like all of Europe - unlike the UK where traffic drives on the left. There are more roundabouts in France (over 20,000) than in the UK both in and out of the cities. Rush hour traffic in main cities is common but not as congested for long periods. Speed cameras can be stationed anywhere and warning signs for these are being taken down. Buy your petrol or gas at supermarket chains such as InterMarché, LeClerc, Auchon, Super U or Carrefour. Highway or motorway stations can charge up to 10 centimes a litre more.

10 - Is Bordeaux a safe city?

Bordeaux is a very sate city in general. However the areas to avoid at night are around the train station, Gare St. Jean, and around the Place de la Victoire.

11 - What should I do in an emergency?

Dial these numbers as needed: Ambulance 15,  Police 17,  Fire 18.
The single European emergency number when calling from a mobile is 112.
Additional useful numbers are listed here.

12 - How are hospitals and medical care?

Hospitals in Bordeaux are excellent and medical care throughout France is rated the top in the world. If you should happen to fall ill, lists of doctors receiving patients on Sundays and public holidays are posted on chemists' (pharmacy) doors. Police stations also have these lists. Local newspapers have similar listings under ‘Úrgences’ for doctors and vets who are on call over the weekend. 

13 - What are the electrical specifications in Bordeaux?

Normal electricity supply is 220 volts. You may require a transformer or plug adaptor to convert 3 pin plugs to the standard round 2 pin plugs used in most European countries.

14 - Is smoking still allowed everywhere in France?

There is no smoking in restaurants, bistros, bars and public buildings and public transport.

If you would like to get a head start on your trip to Bordeaux, you can make your own guide, save your favourites and organize your trip. To print your personalized Bordeaux guide, take it with you on your mobile or send your itinerary to friends and family, login in our Members Area. (upper right corner of any page).  Voilá et bon voyage!