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5 train excursions departing from Bordeaux

You can reach many different destinations from Bordeaux by train. These 5 are worth the detour. Grab your backpack and your camera, and prepare yourself for a complete change of scenery at a click of the fingers!

Angoulême: for comic lovers

Indisputably known as the capital of comics and its associated art forms, it isn’t just during Angoulême’s famous festival that the city pays homage to “the 9th art”! You only have to take a walk around the city to feel the presence of Tintin, Natacha, Franck Margerin and Tootuff. Even the street names are written in speech bubbles. Not only that, but there are 24 painted walls found all around the city, honouring this universe created by such esteemed artists as Hergé, Morris and Zep. So, it’s no surprise to see Gaston Lagaffe in the window of the first floor of a building that sits on the corner of Passage Marengo and Rue Hergé! You can find a map with all of these painted walls at the city’s tourist office.

You can also follow a street art route using ‘Terra Aventura’, a geocaching app that shows you every piece of work while also providing some fun.
Finally, Angoulême is home to La Cité Internationale de la Bande-Dessinée et de l’Image (“The International Centre for Comics and Images”): a temple of the art form that notably houses original plates from famous artists. There are regular temporary exhibitions, as well as artistic residencies. Comic book maniacs will want to spend hours in the centre’s bookshop.

Angoulême is 45 minutes away by train from the Bordeaux St Jean train station (you can also board at Cenon).

For more information: Angoulême Tourisme

Gaston & Prunelle Franquin

Soulac and Royan: for beach and architecture lovers

These two seaside towns offer architecture lovers two very different styles.

Soulac is home to 19th-century villas, the style of which bears the name of the town (“soulacais”). With their finely crafted wooden balconies, dormer windows and pelmets, these colourful villas are very charming! The town’s tourist office has even created a specifically designed guided tour for them. In addition to its grandiose architecture, Soulac-sur-mer is still a little seaside town where you can lay down your towel and stare at the ocean. The train that runs from Bordeaux to Soulac goes as far as La Pointe de Grave. Close to this train station, you can board a ferry across the Gironde Estuary heading to Royan.

Here, the architecture is radically different, owing to its origins in the 1950s Art Deco movement. Royan was cynically bombed in the Second World War, which meant that large parts of the town had to be rebuilt. The architects of the time were inspired by Brazilian architecture, opting for stripped-back forms and colourful facades. That said, a significant number of 19th-century villas still survive in Royan, alongside buildings designed in the Le Corbusier style, offering an eclectic picture that is sure to delight architecture lovers. The tourist office has created a route that takes in the town’s Art Deco buildings.

The town of Soulac is 1 hour and 40 minutes away from Bordeaux by train, leaving from Bordeaux Saint Jean station (you can also board at the Pessac and Mérignac stations). To continue on to Royan, the journey from Bordeaux to La Pointe de Grave is 2 hours and the ferry crossing over the estuary is a further 28 minutes.

Médoc Atlantique Tourisme 

Royan Atlantique Tourisme

Royan et Soulac
Royan © Lotharingia - stock.adobe.com

Arcachon: the ideal destination for epicureans

Arcachon’s prestige is famous; the town is well-known for its abundant treasures, both in terms of architecture and in terms of gastronomy.

You can also enjoy the beauty of the bay from a calm beach, where you can take a lovely dip. Once you arrive at the train station, which opened in 1856, you are immediately plunged into Arcachon’s unique atmosphere. The train station’s architecture is typical of the rest of the town: orange brick and polychrome panelling. It doesn’t take long to get from the train platform to the beach, or the famous ville d’hiver (“winter town”), where you can find many prestigious villas and Le Parc Mauresque: a great spot for a picnic.

Arcachon’s gastronomy has plenty to offer lovers of fine food. In this town, it is common practice to sample the riches of both sea and land. To do so, try one of the town’s numerous restaurants or head to the market hall. If you’re curious to find out where the fish on the market stalls come from, you can meet Jean Lanne at 6.30am; he is a local who has been passionate about the trade for 8 decades, and he’ll take you on a guided tour, introducing you to the world of professional fishing.

Arcachon is 53 minutes away from Bordeaux by train, leaving from the Bordeaux Saint Jean train station.

Arcachon Tourisme

Arcachon ©arcachonphoto.com
Arcachon ©Arcachonphoto.com

The Basque Country: surfers’ paradise (Bayonne, Biarritz, Guéthary)

The main Basque towns on the Atlantic coast can be reached from Bordeaux by train. However, surfers taking the train will have to hire a surfboard on arrival, as surfboards are not allowed on the train. However, Bayonne, Biarritz and Guétary have far more than just surfing to attract visitors.

The charm of these towns is such that they are well worth the detour. Bayonne has been a fortified town for more than 15 centuries and is full of treasures: its Vauban-designed ramparts, cathedral, cloister, the typical Basque streets, the old chateau… All are must-see sites in this jewel of the Basque Country. A guided tour of the city allows you to see it all in an hour.

Biarritz has more of a seaside feel. The town runs along the Atlantic, allowing visitors to watch the surfers and oceanic flows from the seafront. From le rocher de la vierge - “the virgin’s rock” - you can admire the whole of the Biarritz bay: from the city’s long beach to the Pyrenees. Three places that you have to visit are La Cité de L’Océan, the aquarium and the fishing port.

A little further south lies the village of Guéthary: a paradise for surfers. Here, you can get away from the rush of the city and find a much calmer atmosphere. The charm of the little streets and dry dock port make the village a delight for photographers! Guéthary is the ideal place to try some seafood on a calm terrace, with an unbeatable view of the ocean.

The Basque Country is around 2 hours away by train from the Bordeaux Saint Jean train station.


Bayonne ©Bayonne Tourisme

Périgueux: for history lovers

The fiefdom of Périgord is a territory that has been marked by history. The city has preserved so many sites - wood-panelled houses, townhouses that date from the Renaissance, a Byzantine cathedral, a Gallo-Roman zone -, all coming together to produce a veritable journey back in time.

Head back to ancient times at the Vesunna museum; designed by the architect Jean Nouvel, it was built on an authentic Gallo-Roman site. This museum presents numerous objects from the daily life of that period.

If you’re interested in the Medieval period, you should visit the cathedral. Originally, a church that was built between 500 and 536 stood on this site, but it was destroyed during a Norman invasion in 845. Bishop Frotaire had the church rebuilt around 984. It has grown over time and is nowadays a listed UNESCO World Heritage site.

The city’s tourist office offers guided tours, as well as a tourist train, to make sure that you don’t miss any of Périgueux’s treasures! You also have the option of the ‘Terra Aventura’ geocaching application; it’s a fun digital treasure hunt!

Périgueux is just under 1 hour and 30 mins away from the Bordeaux Saint Jean train station (you can also board at the Cenon station).


Périgueux crédit ivoha
Périgueux © ivoha - stock.adobe.com