Budget travel guide to Bordeaux

Bordeaux is renowned for being a pricey place to visit. However, it is possible to nip round this lovely city, and the region without it costing you the earth. You just need to play it a bit canny. We recently visited for just two nights, and here are the things we discovered.

* The Bordeaux public transport system – Tram et Bus de la Cub is timely and comprehensively covers the city. When you arrive at Bordeaux Merignac airport, you’ll have a number of options available to you to get into the city. You can get a taxi. This will set you back the cost of a moderately priced hotel room.

You can get the Jet Bus, from directly outside the airport. At 12 Eur for a return, this might seem an attractive option. But DON’T DO IT! Under no circumstances should you get the Jet Bus! Go to the bus stop behind it – that’s right, 2 seconds walk away, and get the Number 1 bus, la ligna 1 which will say Bordeaux Quinconces on the front. Hand the driver a shiny 1,10 Eur and he will take you all the way to Bordeaux city centre! Well, he’ll give you a ticket which is valid for an hours journey on the TBC network.

If you decide to save a bit of time and get off at Lycees de Merignac and switch on to the tram, line A into Bordeaux to save the traffic. The tram stop is right next to the road, and you want to cross the tram tracks entirely to the far side to get into Bordeaux.

When checking the timetables, almost all bus stops have a full network map, so you can check your best route. Each and every bus stop and tram stop is clearly marked, so you can keep track of where you are. When checking you’re at the right bus stop, look for the destination at the end of the route you want to take and check it says that is the ‘Direction’ marked on the timetable. Simples!

If you wanna save even more money, you can buy a 5 or 10 journey ticket which can be used over a few days. There are also day, week etc. ticket options. You cannot buy these from the bus driver, so for example, at the airport, make sure you nip into one of the newsagents and grab a ticket before you go out to the bus stop.

One final point to note is that when you’re going out of the city centre, we discovered that bus drivers don’t really know which routes their lines connect to. One driver told us not to get his bus and it turned out I was right to think it would have connected. Trust the maps, they are your friend!

* Eating out is expensive in Bordeaux, so shop around. Many places offer a Formule du Midi – a set lunch menu for a set price. These can be had for about 8 to 14 Euros if you look around, but make sure you know what’s included. Some of them have a starter, main, dessert and drink, but some of them may only have a combination of two or three of these. Make sure you are happy with what you’re getting!!

Also, some places can be expensive for drinks. We found that a reasonable price in some of the bars and cafes around the city and the outskirts was between 2Eur and 2.50 for a glass of wine, from 1.10 Eur to 2.50 for a beer (25cl) and anywhere from 1 Eur to about 2.50 for a coffee, depending on what coffee you get!

Try not to get attacked by bears. This could lead to costly medical bills.

* And finally, if you’re in the outskirts, around the vinyards, walk or cycle if you can. The locals will think you’re mental, but it’s totally doable. When we were heading back to the airport, we were quoted 36 Eur for a journey which ended up taking us about 35 minutes to walk!! The bus routes get much less frequent further out, so this can be a good option for hooking back up to the network. Also, in vinyard country, cycling is a really enjoyable way of getting around. It’s a beautiful ride and we found some lovely little villages and things to explore.


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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