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Thinking about getting married in Bordeaux? Heading to a wedding out there? Based on our own experiences of getting married at La Vue France, near Angoulême, here’s everything you could ever wish to know about how to get there…
It is a 10 hour plus drive from England to Bordeaux but it is certainly an option. The big upside is that it means you can bring as much luggage as you like and there is no need to hire a car when you get there. Why not make it into a road trip, staying at a few cool places and making some memories enroute?
The stand-out website to plan your route to Bordeaux is ViaMichellin, but others are very user friendly too: waze.com, the RAC, the AA, TomTom and, of course, Google Maps. For smaller and more authentic places to stay enroute, check out Le Logis for ideas, using their map feature.
There are some important rules of the road to remember when driving in France, such as having a warning triangle, fluorescent yellow jacket, spare bulbs, etc. The RAC provide chapter and verse on all this – link here.
Crossing le Channel
Crossing the channel means either going on the water or beneath it. Prices vary dramatically with timings and the seasons, so I won’t attempt to summarise here.
On the water, there are innumerable ferries every day and lots of comparison sites vying for your booking: Compare Ferries, FerrySavers, Direct Ferries and aferry are all good places to survey fares and timetables.
Similarly, there are innumerable ferry routes from which to choose. Dover to Calais is by no means the only route to take. Alas, none of the routes sail all the way down to Bordeaux itself.
Alternatively, drive onto Euro Tunnel’s Le Shuttle near Folkestone. As you would expect, there is reams of helpful information on their website.
The crossing operates up to 49 times each day with durations from around 35 minutes.
This is what we did and I recommend it highly, with a few small tweaks. The luggage allowance is two large suitcases and no one will weigh them. There is also no risk of checking-in a bag and it not emerging at the other end like on an airplane: it is within in your carriage at all times. This can be particularly important for precious items like wedding dresses, which you would not want to squeeze into an airplane’s overhead compartment.
You can book your ticket on the Eurostar website all the way through to Angoulême and Bordeaux.
The journey itself is very straightforward:
Step 1: St Pancras International to Paris Gare du Nord on Eurostar: 2 hours 16 minutes and up to 19 times per day. New trains and a well oiled, swift service.
Step 2: Taxi (or Metro) from Gare du Nord to Montparnasse: an unintentionally beautiful taxi ride across Paris, accidentally taking in some wonderful sights. But, this can take an hour at busy times and we so nearly missed our next train. I strongly suggest you give yourself over an hour for this change over.
Step 3: Montparnasse to Angoulême or Bordeaux on SNCF: direct journey, with eight services each day, taking from 1 hours 48 minutes (fastest) to 3 hours 10 minutes (slowest) to Angoulême. Add on an extra 35 minutes, if you are continuing on to Bordeaux. The trains are modern ‘double-deckers’ offering scenic countryside views throughout.
Hire Cars at Angoulême Station
I enjoyed multiple emails with Guillaume at Europcar Angoulême Gare, attaching various documents and subsequent phone calls making pre-payments. This was all in aid of confirming that we could in fact pick-up the car keys during their long lunch break from the nearby Hotel D’Orleans: Europcar’s suggestion, not ours.
However, cometh the hour, cometh the happy couple but not forth-cometh the keys, which were not there to collect. An unexpected long lunch for us as well then, by the station, stranded with all our precious wedding luggage. When Europcar finally opened up again, Guillaume was nowhere to be seen but his colleague admitted they had indeed cocked-up and handed over the keys apologetically. Off we trotted, suitcases in tow, to find our car.
Europcar had advertised a rather sleek and snazzy looking Mercedes people carrier, which we thought practical and smart, befitting a wedding weekend. So, we booked that option.
What they provided was within their contractual rights but was in fact a hulking great grey school minibus, dented and scraped, and more used to shunting excited children around the south of France than the bride-to-be and her family. (See picture left for a sparkly CGI version of what we were given. If only the reality had been even a smidgen closer to that glistening condition.)
Oh well. No one ever said Laura was marrying me for my looks. Now this would have to extend to the wedding car as well. I rue not taking a photo of our steed to amuse you further. It was hilariously bad.
Flying is the most obvious route, though it is not without its perils. Take a read of our disastrous attempt to fly to a wedding in Bordeaux last Summer.
Most people will fly to Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport as it has the highest number of flights.
Keep in mind that regional airports like Bergerac, Limoges, Poitiers and even La Rochelle are all an option as well. They are much smaller and, hence, far less hassle to navigate than the big busy Bordeaux International Airport.
They may also be cheaper to fly to, with no queues for hire cars and are little more than 15 minutes extra drive to La Vue France than Bordeaux airport. Just a thought for you…
To give you a flavour, below are the Summer 2019 Friday departures to the Bordeaux region, along with the drive time to our venue at La Vue France:
|From||To||Airline||Depart||Arrive||Drive Time to La Vue France|
|London City||Bergerac||British Airways||09:45||12:20||1hr 55m|
|Gatwick||Bordeaux||British Airways||06:10||08:45||1hr 25m|
|Gatwick||Bordeaux||British Airways||12:55||15:30||1hr 25m|
|Southampton||La Rochelle||Flybe||11:35||14:00||1hr 40m|
|Gatwick||La Rochelle||easyJet||13:50||16:15||1hr 40m|
|Gatwick||Limoges||British Airways||06:45||09:15||1hr 30m|
To search for the best available fares, as ever, delete the browsing history from your computer to remove any sneaky cookies that might jack up the price. Then use a good price comparison site like SkipLagged, Kayak or Skyscanner.
Each airport has a flank of car hire companies ready to assist, so you will have no issues renting a car for the weekend from all the usual suspects.
Public Transport from Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport to La Vue France
If you do not drive, or are determined not to, then you can get within striking distance of La Vue France by public transport.
Step 1: Take Bus Number 1 from outside the terminal building direct to Bordeaux’s main St Jean station.
Step 2: Take the train to Angoulême (duration: 35 mins to 1 hour 30 mins, depending on the service) and ask your friends to pick you up there.
Step 3: If you want to get as close as humanly possible to La Vue France, there is one further regional train you can take to Chateauneuf-sur-Charente. The journey is c. 17 minutes and the drive to La Vue France is under 10 minutes.
Train tickets can easily be booked and printed out through the SNCF website.
Whichever way you choose to travel, enjoy the journey!