If you’re looking for a fun weekend break, in a warm city with interesting museums, delicious wines, and amazing shopping opportunities, then Bordeaux, in the southwest of France is an excellent idea. Did you know you can travel from the Netherlands to Bordeaux by train in a little more than 7 hours? Here is my report on the Amsterdam to Bordeaux train and how it can work for you too!
When I was a young girl, we used to vacation in the southwest of France, below Bordeaux. The car ride usually took more than 12 hours. I was intrigued to learn that by train, it would be roughly 6-7 hours to reach Bordeaux! Now that is a sustainable option for a city trip to the south of France! Recently I visited Bordeaux and I share what it is like on the Amsterdam to Bordeaux train.
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Why take the train to Bordeaux?
If you know anything about me by now, you’d know I love a nice train ride. Any excuse to take the train is a good excuse. In this case, the train from Amsterdam to Bordeaux only takes a bit longer than flying and would be a relaxed way to travel to Bordeaux.
Bordeaux makes for a perfect city break. As the 6th largest city in France, it is only populated by 260.000 people. Bordeaux is referred to as the little Paris. And I see the resemblance in the architecture but without the hordes of tourists. Walking around the city is easy, the tram lines make the whole Bordeaux area very accessible and there are loads of parks and bicycle lanes.
And have I mentioned the wine? Obviously, Bordeaux is THE place to go for a wine tasting and learn about wine at the Museum of Wine (Cité du Vin) or one of the many wineries in and around the city. I absolutely loved my time in the city.
But why go to Bordeaux by train?
- Depending on the time of booking, a train fare can be cheaper than flying
- Depending on the place of origin, the train takes only a bit longer than flying to Bordeaux
- Co2 emission by train is 95% less than by flying (13.6 vs 267 kg, source)
- The train is a relaxed way to travel
- You can bring all the luggage you can carry and don’t have to worry about maximum liquid container sizes
- You’ll arrive in the center of Bordeaux at Saint Jean Station
- Only one change in Paris
Amsterdam to Bordeaux by train: Quick Facts
Here is a quick overview of some facts and quick information about this train journey to Bordeaux.
- There is no direct train from Amsterdam to Bordeaux. You’ll travel to Paris and change trains to Bordeaux
- Total journey time: 6 hours and 41 minutes (including transfer in Paris)
- Arrive by Thalys train at Paris Nord, depart by TGV from Paris Montparnasse
- Arrive at Bordeaux Saint Jean (Gare Saint Jean Bordeaux)
- Prices for a single train ticket can be booked from €60
Amsterdam to Bordeaux Train – How does it work?
Ok. If you’re short on time or not a big train fan, then you’ll probably prefer to fly. But in case you’re curious how it would work to take the train from Amsterdam to Bordeaux, I’ll walk you through the several steps of the journey.
There are only a few steps because there is only 1 change for the train route from Amsterdam to Bordeaux. Unfortunately, there is no direct train from Amsterdam to Bordeaux, but it is a fairly easy and straightforward train ride.
Netherlands to Paris with Thalys train
We’ll begin in the Netherlands. You’ll have to find a way to reach Paris. The easiest and fastest option is the Thalys train from Amsterdam.
The Thalys train also stops at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (NL), Rotterdam Station (NL), Antwerp Station, and Brussels Midi (BE) before you’ll arrive at Paris Nord in France.
From Amsterdam, it takes 3 hours and 18 minutes to reach Paris by Thalys train.
Paris Nord to Paris Montparnasse
Once you’ll arrive in Paris, you need to change trains. You’ll change from the Thalys train at Paris Nord station to one of France’s high-speed TGV trains that leave from Paris Montparnasse station.
It might sound daunting to not only change trains but move across the Metropole of Paris to a whole different station. Let me assure you, it is not.
Step-by-step guide for changing trains in Paris
The metro in Paris is very efficient and runs every 3 minutes. If you follow my tips, it will be a smooth journey
- Purchase your Paris metro tickets aboard the Thalys train at the carriage with the bar.
- The price for a metro ticket in Paris is €1.70. Keep it after you’ve validated it.
- Disembark the train at Paris Nord, and walk to the main central hall.
- Follow signs for (M) Metro and follow the purple line (M)(4)
- You’ll take the Metro 4 (purple) in the direction of Mairie de Montrouge.
- Get off at Montparnasse Bienvenüe stop
- Follow signs for “Trains Grandes Lignes / Sortie” (Big train lines/exit) to reach the train station
- Take the escalators to reach the main train hall where you’ll find the departure platform for the train to Bordeaux
The metro journey itself takes approximately 20 minutes, but you have to calculate extra time for walking the whole length of the train platforms if your seat is all the way at the back of the train.
Both Paris Nord and Paris Montparnasse are ‘head stations’, meaning you have to walk from the front of the train, along the platform to reach the carriages.
In general, I’d say you’d need at least 1 hour to transfer from Paris Nord to Paris Montparnasse by metro. Better make it 1.5 hours if you want to surface to the city level for some blue skies and fresh croissants.
Paris Metro tickets can be purchased at the stations and vending machines. I recommend buying them onboard the Thalys train in advance, so you don’t have to worry about it. The price is the same (€1.70) per journey.
Paris to Bordeaux by train
Once you’ve found the platform at Paris Montparnasse, your journey to the south of France really begins. But it will be a short journey, as the train only takes 2 to 2,5 hours. Sometimes a little bit less or longer.
You’ll take the !NOui TGV train to Bordeaux and whizz through the French countryside at 320 km/h (almost 200 miles per hour). With this speed, you’ll cover the 585 km (364 miles) between Paris and Bordeaux in no time.
Sit back, order your first wine, and plan all the amazing things you’ll want to do in Bordeaux, while you’re traveling and enjoying the view.
Depending on the train you’ll catch in Paris, you either have a direct, non-stop train (2h) to Bordeaux. Or a slightly longer journey with stops at e.g. Poitiers.
Once you’ll arrive at St. Jean Bordeaux station, the historic center and the rest of Bordeaux are just an easy tram ride away.
And that is it! You’ve arrived in Bordeaux and the fun can continue from here!
Long weekend itinerary from Amsterdam to Bordeaux by train
Ok, I hear you think: 6,5 hours is not really a short train ride or a quick journey. And I hear you. But let me guide you through the best itinerary for a long weekend in Bordeaux, by train from the Netherlands!
Take one of the first Thalys trains to leave Amsterdam. The 6.11 am Thalys train arrives in Bordeaux at 1.14 pm. Or the 7.11 am train will arrive in Bordeaux at 2.14 pm. Plenty of room to really enjoy a full afternoon and evening in Bordeaux.
Sleep on the train to Paris, enjoy a croissant and coffee at one of Paris’s lovely cafes and continue your journey to Bordeaux.
You’ll now have a few days to see the city of Bordeaux and the surrounding region, wine country, or the beach at Archachon.
On your journey back to the Netherlands, you could take the 5.08 pm train to Paris. You’ll arrive a little before midnight in Amsterdam.
If you depart on Thursday morning, you’ll have almost 3 whole days to explore Bordeaux! Awesome.
Prices for the Amsterdam Bordeaux train
In general with all travel transport tickets, the rule is: the earlier you’ll book, the cheaper the tickets. You have to allocate at least €60 for a single journey from Amsterdam to Bordeaux.
Depending on your preferences for second or first class, and the type of flexibility of your train ticket, prices go up quickly.
You can book a maximum of 90 days in advance. As the train times for Paris to Bordeaux are released 4-5 months in advance, it is possible to see the times and options further in advance.
I didn’t score one of those cheaper train tickets but the return journey came in at less than €200 which I found very reasonable for a long weekend to Bordeaux.
How to book your tickets for the train from Amsterdam to Bordeaux
I recommend checking the times and prices online and booking as far ahead in advance as you can.
You can book your tickets here.
This is the official website of the Dutch railway service for international journeys. Some advantages of booking online:
- You will not pay any booking fees if you book online
- You can browse times/prices/options at will and select what suits your needs
- Easily compare journeys on your screen
- Safe environment for payments
- 100% accurate personal details as you’ve typed them in yourself
- You don’t have to call a stranger (a huge plus for me!)
If you’re having trouble booking online, you can contact them by phone and make a booking via the phone.
Comparison: train to Bordeaux vs Amsterdam Bordeaux flights
Obviously, you can also fly to Bordeaux. The Bordeaux Merginac airport is a small airport, in the west of the city. From there, it is a 40-minute bus ride to the center (as of April 2023, the airport will also have a tramline).
But let’s compare the train with Amsterdam to Bordeaux flights, shall we?
Price comparison for flights vs trains
Dutch airlines, KLM and KLM Cityhopper fly to Bordeaux (BOD) airport regularly. I selected an option, 60 days from now, outside school holidays, with a departure on Thursday, and a return on Sunday.
With KLM, their cheapest option pops up at €129 but it is a flight with a stopover and a total travel time of 5h. Their direct flights are either €163 for a late evening flight or €561 for a mid-day flight. Not very optimal.
But I’m cheap, so let’s select the cheaper option. If I select the return journey, I can choose a 6 am flight or a flight around noon. If I add that to the basket, I need to pay €400. With this option, I’ll arrive after 10 pm on Thursday and would have to leave for the airport on Sunday morning. This will only give me 2 full days in Bordeaux.
If I select the exact same dates for the Amsterdam Bordeaux train, I can select the early departure in the morning, and the return train in the late afternoon. It comes in at €300. This will give me more than 3 full days in Bordeaux.
If prices really matter, you can also opt for Dutch, low-cost airline Transavia. They service Bordeaux from Eindhoven airport. If you depart Thursday evening, and return Sunday morning, you’ll have 2 whole days in Bordeaux, for a little over €100. As usual, you’ll pay extra for features like; extra luggage, seating together, priority boarding and whatnot.
Check for flights from Eindhoven to Bordeaux here.
Time comparison for flights vs trains
But what about time? As you can see from the above, the airlines really don’t have the optimum flight schedule for a quick weekend trip to Bordeaux. Of course, this matters less if you’ll spend more time in France and Bordeaux.
But let’s compare the time in transit by flying and by taking the train.
If you fly from Amsterdam to Bordeaux, you need:
- 2 to 3 hours for check-in, security and boarding
- 1.45 hours of actual flying time
- Deboarding and collecting possible luggage can take up from half an hour to an hour
- You’ll take the bus from the airport to Bordeaux center. It will take 40 minutes (quicker when the tram is operational)
Total time for flying from Amsterdam to Bordeaux: 5 to 6 hours. This doesn’t include time to travel to Amsterdam airport.
If you take the train from Amsterdam to Bordeaux, you need:
- 15 minutes to arrive at the station and find your seat
- 7 h on the train from station to station
- Getting off the train and to the tram stop takes 5 minutes
- 11 minutes for the tram to Place de la Bourse
Total time for the Amsterdam to Bordeaux train: 7.5 hours
Now, I have to admit, there is a difference in time. Nearly 8 hours in transit sounds like a long day of travel. But, I still feel the train has an advance here, as you can take the earliest train possible, or a later one, and still arrive at a decent hour in Bordeaux to make something of your day.
Whereas with flying, you really are restricted by the very limited operating schedule of the airlines. Certainly not ideal for a quick weekend getaway to Bordeaux.
Practical information and useful links for the train journey to Bordeaux
As always, planning a trip by train doesn’t end with just the train journey. Here are some useful tips and links for you to bookmark and use when booking your trip to Bordeaux by train.
- Book your train tickets as far in advance as possible via this link.
- Find the best hotels in Bordeaux. Compare prices and reviews for a perfect stay.
- Download the Paris metro map in advance here. Or select one of the many apps in your Appstore.
- Get the Bordeaux City Pass for unlimited public transport, free tours, and entry tickets in Bordeaux.
I hope I was able to offer you some insights into what it is like to travel by train to Bordeaux. I think you can see it is fairly easy and has a lot of advantages.
What do you think? Is Bordeaux on your radar as a fun city trip? Would you consider traveling by train to Bordeaux? Let me know in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you.