BY TIM HEDGLEY, GROUP TRAVEL EDITOR
AS the days get longer and temperatures begin to rise, thoughts are turning to summer holidays. Voyages-sncf.com are embracing that summer feeling and today announce that tickets to two summer hot spots went on sale today, March 15, 2017.
If you have never done it, the drive down France to beautiful Bordeaux can be a bit of a pain. It’s hard on the kids and it can be frustrating for the driver and co-pilot.
But there is a far better option and that is to let the train take the strain.
The coastline of Brittany and the vineyards of Bordeaux will both be reached in a fraction of the current journey times this summer thanks to the opening of the highly anticipated new high-speed rail services TGV Armorique and TGV Océane later this year.
Although the services themselves won’t start running until 2 July 2017, tickets for travel on between Paris and Brittany and Bordeaux went on sale via Voyages-sncf.com on 15th March 2017.
Demand is expected to be high so anyone thinking of travelling to these popular holiday regions this summer should book early to secure the best fares.
Services begin operation on 2nd July 2017 when the NEW TGV Océane will reduce journey times from Paris to Bordeaux by up to 1 hour and 15 minutes with a frequency of over 33 return journeys a day. Travellers will cover the 581km from the centre of Paris to the centre of Bordeaux in 2 hours and 4 minutes. It is anticipated that 2.4 million passengers a year will travel on the line.
At the same time, tickets for the NEW TGV Armorique service will go on sale. This new route will link Paris to Rennes in 1 hour 25 minutes, a saving of 40 minutes on the current journey times, and with over 29 return journeys per day it is sure to attract a lot of passengers with estimated numbers around 1.5million passengers every year.
These two new high-speed routes will open the regions of Brittany and the south-west of France to rail travellers.
Additional destinations including Toulouse – with six return journeys per day in a time of 4 hours 9 minutes – Poitiers,
Angoûleme and La Rochelle will benefit from TGV Océane services, while TGV Armorique will also serve Brest and Quimper in Brittany, with reductions in journey times to both destinations of up to 45 minutes.
Running on both these new routes are newly designed TGV trains, travelling at speeds of up to 320 km per hour, in super modern style.
New on board features include increased leg room, seating which can swivel to face the direction of travel, on board WiFi, large tables with plugs and USB ports and moveable personal lights. With prices starting at around £31 each way this is sure to be a hit.
So if you are considering beautiful Bordeaux SNCF have come up with their 6 top things to do when your there.
- A special itinerary of wine bars, with vaulted, bare-brick cellars
To give you the strength to visit the whole city centre, depart on a tour of the wine bars. Le Toscane (place Camille Jullian), for a little hint of Italy in Bordeaux, Aux 4 coins du vins (Place St Pierre), where you can use a smart card to taste 40 wines, L’Oenolimit (place Fernand Lafargue), decorated using recycled materials with even an old billiards table, perfect for drinks with friends, and Le Petit Bois (18 Rue du Chai des Farines, Porte Cailhau), for its original décor and generous open sandwiches.
Start your journey with Tour Pey Berland, a tower located on the square of the same name, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you have the strength, you can even climb the 233 steps to reach the summit of the tower, more than 50 metres above ground, to admire a panoramic view of the city of Bordeaux.
Continue your stroll with, not far from the tower, la Place des Martyrs de la Résistance, to discover the Saint-Seurin Basilica and its accompanying paleo-roman site…
Before rejoining the waterfront at La Garonne, take a little detour to the famous Bordeaux Opera House, more commonly known as Le Grand Théâtre. Also classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with architecture typical of Bordeaux – inherited from the Age of Enlightenment – this monument has witnessed 200 years of different uses, and has rediscovered its traditional style since its renovation in 1991.
Then take a walk along La Garonne on the Quai des Chartrons, to reach the famous Pont Chaban Delmas… 433 metres long and containing as much steel as the Eiffel Tower, this jewel of modern architecture in Bordeaux is clearly unmissable.
- Go green in Bordeaux’s public gardens or at the Parc Bordelais
Classed as “A remarkable garden of France”, Bordeaux’s public gardens are magnificent. This French green oasis is situated just a few steps from the city centre. Ideal for all the family (swings, play areas, old-style carrousel, etc.), it is also perfect for a romantic stroll!
We also love the little animal park in the Parc Bordelais – goats, ducks, a few exotic pigs, and more – as well as the wide paths and tracks for cycling and roller skating… and there’s also the large central lake, to laze around by on sunny days!
- Brunch at Darwin’s Magasin Général
We love the setting of these decommissioned barracks and their industrial look, offering numerous activities: a skatepark, graffiti, beehives, co-working, etc. In the restaurant, the décor is created using recycled materials and the food is organic and delicious, at a reasonable price.
Tip: Try brunch on a Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
And if you still have an appetite after a delicious lunch at Darwin’s Magasin Général, why not try one of Bordeaux’s special Canelé pastries?
- Have fun on the Miroir d’eau, emblematic of Bordeaux
Located in Place de la Bordeaux, just a few steps away from the waterfront, the Miroir d’eau is to Bordeaux what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. An unmissable sight in the town, it is the largest water mirror in the world – it looks like a paddling pool with a giant atomiser! A site that children will particularly adore…
- Visit Bordeaux’s Cité du Vin
With architecture that is both contemporary and bold, the Cité du Vin, located on the banks of the Garonne at the entrance to the marina, is the world’s first centre where you can discover the end-to-end wine production process.
It offers a journey through time and space, to discover the various dimensions of wine, including culture, civilisation and patrimony, thanks to scientific, artistic, cultural and festive events, workshops, games, temporary exhibitions, and more. It’s all about the experience!