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Why rent a car in Bordeaux?
Bordeaux is a great place to explore by car. Not only an interesting city in its own right, it is also the capital of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine province, the center of the Bordeaux wine region, and the best access point for much of the Southwestern France.
Top ways to enter Bordeaux
- Bordeaux Airport: Located close to the city center, Bordeaux Airport serves flights to and from many destinations in Europe, as well as in North Africa, the Middle East, and the North America.
- Bergerac Airport: About an hour and a half’s drive away from Bordeaux, this regional airport mainly hosts flights to the United Kingdom, as well as to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
- Public transportation: If you arrive in Bordeaux by train, it is convenient to pick up a rental in Bordeaux Train Station.
Useful city facts
- The main language of Bordeaux is, like elsewhere in the country, French. The knowledge of English varies, but many people working in the service industry speak it.
- Bordeaux enjoys hot summers, but winters can get cold at times because of winds coming from the Atlantic. January, the coldest month, has the average temperature of 6.6 °C (43.9 °F), while the mean temperature in the warmest month, August, is 21.4 °C (70.5 °F).
Top destinations and activities
- Les Quais. Also known as the "Port of the Moon", walking the quay along the Gironde river is the best way to observe Bordeaux city center and pass some of its famous attractions.
- Musee D'Aquitaine. This museum lets you travel through the area’s history, from relics dating back 25,000 years to Gall-Roman era, medieval times and present day.
- The Museum of Bordeaux Wine and Trade. This unique museum is the best place to learn about Bordeaux’s main industry and its origins, old trade routes, wine-making techniques, and present state.
Traffic and parking tips
- The speed limit in cities is 50 km/h, although in certain areas the speed limit may be reduced to 30 km/h. Unlike with inter-city roads, the urban speed limit is unaffected by weather.
- Outside cities, as of July 2018 the speed limit depends on the type of the road. Highways are limited to 130 km/h, 4-lane expressways to 110 km/h, and 2- or 3- lane roads to 90 km/h. During the rain the limits are respectively lowered to 110 km/h, 100 km/h, and 80 km/h. The general speed limit is lowered to 50 km/h during heavy fog or other cases of bad visibility.
- The insurance and car documentation needs to be in the car whenever you’re driving.
- If you’re the driver, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
- As of 2018, hands-free mobile phone use is banned in France and the fines are hefty.
- The legal alcohol limit is 0.05% for experienced drivers and 0.02% for novice drivers.
- The emergency number is 112.
Most of the main highways in France (autoroute in French) are toll roads. Their names start with letter A and you can recognize them by a red number sign. The fare for taking a toll road depends on the specific route, the distance length, as well as the type of your vehicle - trailer cars and caravans have to pay more than regular cars. You can pay by a credit card or by cash. You’ll be given a ticket that you have to keep while on the toll road.
Some rental cars are equipped with toll road transporters and can use the automatic toll road payment booths (Télépéage). Ask your rental car provider to find out if they offer cars with toll road transporters.
See the official French toll road website for more information. Use the website's toll road calculator to find out exactly how much you’ll have to pay for using the toll roads on your planned route.
Ideas for a day-trip
- Wine tour. There are many organized tours that you can join, but having your own car lets you explore the nearby villages, vineyards, and chateaus by yourself. The Medoc region is perhaps the best place to start, with famous places such as Château Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Latour, Château Margaux and Chateau Mouton Rothschild all in close proximity to one another. If you were a driver for a visit to Medoc, don’t despair - you can switch places with your travel companion and pay a visit to the Graves region which has some of the oldest vineyards in all of the Bordeaux area.
- Atlantic Coast. Bordeaux is located very near the Atlantic Coast, and there are many interesting places you can visit. The nearby town of Arcachon is famous for its oysters, but the nearby villages are just as charming. If you’re up for a longer trip, go all the way south to Bayonne and Biarritz, places that offer some of the best surfing in the whole Europe.
- Saint Emilion village. Historically inhabited by Romans and hermit monks, this village east of Bordeaux is a UNESCO World heritage site.
Most popular rental types and cars
The most popular rental car in France is the Renault Twingo, but travelers also love the Volkswagen Polo and the Ford Fiesta. The most popular rental car types are economy, compact and mini.
- Northern Spain. Bayonne and Biarritz have already been mentioned, but if you travel even farther, you’ll reach Spain’s Basque coast, a place of interesting culture, stunning beaches and mountains, and unique cuisine.
- Brittany. France’s westernmost region, a peninsula stretching into the Atlantic Ocean, is home to cozy little towns, megalithic stone sites, and rugged, but beautiful sea coast.
- Southwestern France. Less popular as a tourism destination than its southeastern counterpart, Provence, this part of France is nonetheless a great place to explore thanks to various nature areas and cities like Toulouse.
How can I save money on my rental car?
You can do a number of things to get a good car rental deal in Bordeaux:
- Compare rates of different rental car providers
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Plan your route before you go
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Visit on the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Bordeaux is the cheapest in April when renting a car is about 29% cheaper than the yearly average.
Which is the cheapest month to rent a car in Bordeaux?
What’s the usual rental length in Bordeaux?
What's the most popular month to rent a car in Bordeaux?
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