Many of the local trains have special room to store a bicycle. This made it very easy to travel between towns, unload my bike and begin exploring. The conductors were very helpful in making sure I was pointed in the right direction for the bicycle storage.
I found that renting a bicycle from a local shop in Bordeaux a most excellent way to explore Bordeaux. While the tram and bus system is convenient, having a bike enabled me to easily go from one place to the next. Plus Bordeaux has many bike lanes that cover most of the main routes in the city. The bike was relatively tame, medium tires, a rack on the back, lights front and back.....a little more metro than I am used to, but it worked fine for four days and even made the trip to St. Emilion. On rue Dr. Nancel Penard near Place Gambetta.
Bordeaux has an excellent public transportation system that is easily used in town, but also connects to the suburban areas and convention center on the outskirts of town. For the trams, tickets on a trip by trip basis can be bought at the tram stops. In July 2011 it was 1.40E per trip. The machines did not appear to take paper money, but did take cash cards.
VCUB is the city's "bike for rent" system. I have never been to a city with so many cyclists using rented bikes. It is very cheap, very easily accessible and very practical, particularly as the tramways are often very crowded.
How does VCUB work? Depending on how long you stay in Bordeaux or how long you want to use the system, you can either go for a short term usage of 24 hours or 1 week or a long term usage of 1 month or 1 year. You go to the next VCUB terminal (they are literally everywhere, see this map for details), register with your debit card, pay (e.g. 5 euros for 7 days), receive a code which you !!MUST!! bear in mind and create your own 4-digit security number. You then take the bike and are free to go wherever you want. Once you're done, you simply leave it at the next VCUB terminal. The best: If you use it for less than 30 minutes, your trip won't cost you anything apart from the 5 euros!
One last thing: Be careful when you're using roads with tramway tracks. These have exactly the same width as your tyres and can cause some dangerous accidents.
The website below only exists in French, but perhaps the tourist information can help you with an English instruction manual.
You don't have much time, but you would still like to do some sightseeing ? Bordeaux taxi drivers and tourist office offer an overview tour of the city.
# Meet and Greet Airport Service
# Hotel and Office Pickups
# Bordeaux Sights : Sightseeing in Bordeaux, Saint Emilion, Medoc or Arcachon can take all day. With our knowledge and information about the most famous sightseeing attractions, you can be sure to tour Bordeaux in unusual comfort
# Special Accommodations for Corporate Customers
We didn't use the bus service while exploring Bordeaux, but we did come across many buses lined up here near the Palais du Justice. Apparently this area is a depot for bus service in and around Bordeaux.
The sleek blue trams that operate in Bordeaux are a great way of getting around in the city centre or the suburbs. It's three-line tram is easily navigated and a good way of getting around Bordeaux.
The hours of operation are between 05:00 and 01:00 and tickets can be purchased at the tram stops.
We didn't use the tram during our visit and I am not quite sure what the ticket price would be.
Like most cities in Europe, Bordeaux is pretty compact with most of the major sites centrally located and easily reached by walking. We arrived by car and started our exploring on foot.
Walking is one of my favorite ways of exploring a city because it allows me a better perspective of the city, I can go "off the beaten path" at my pace, stopping to admire beautiful architecture, city life, or a quick stop for a snack or drink.
Coming from a city that has one of the largest tram networks in the world (Melbourne, Australia), I was amazed at the great trams in Bordeaux. They are sleek, modern, comfortable and fast, but what makes them so special is the absence within the historic centre of Bordeaux of an ugly overhead power supply system so common with tramways around the world.
The tram system has 3 lines and covers a grid of about 40 kilometres. The system carries around 190,000 passengers each day.
The overhead power system in the outer areas of the network powers up the traction motors and stores power within a bank of on-board batteries. Once in the historic area, the pantographs (overhead power pick-ups) are retracted and sit flush with the roof line. The tram then runs on battery power with the addition of magnetic power pick-ups between the 2 rails of the system - it is quite safe to walk on the tracks without the danger of electrocution.
Web link provided below is in French only and may give links if you require further information.
The railway arrived from Paris in 1852. Today you can get from Bordeaux to Paris Montparnasse in 3 and half hours. In the other direction, you could get to the Spanish border in about 2 and half hours.
Gare St Jean is one of those delightful French railway stations that still uses the mechanical train departures display. Dozens of people stand watching (and listening to) the clac-clac-clac as the timetable updates itself above the ticket hall.
Directly outside is a tram stop with trams leaving every few minutes towards the city centre.