This guide to taking trains to and from Bordeaux Saint-Jean station includes what to look out for when navigating the station and how to transfer to the city centre.
The neighbourhood around Bordeaux-Saint Jean is fairly attractive – there are numerous brasseries in which to have a drink or something to eat between trains, you don't have to use the outlets in the station.
Bordeaux Saint-Jean is a stunning train station and its beauty has been enhanced by recent renovations timed to coincide with the opening of the France’s newest high speed line.
However, the facelift hasn’t made a difference to the rather awkward access to and from some of the trains which use Bordeaux Saint-Jean.
Eight Things worth knowing using Bordeaux Saint-Jean station:
(1) The long station building at Bordeaux St Jean is divided into Halles 1 and 2.
Halle 1 - is the main hall, and is the station's main waiting area.
It also houses the ticket office (the Billetterie) and has access to the 1st class lounge (the Salon Grand Voyageur).
Halle 2 - houses the left luggage and lost property office.
The passage between them is home to food/drink outlets, as well as two waiting rooms which are equipped with re-charge points for electronic devices.
(2) None of the voies (platforms/tracks) within the Gare de Bordeaux Saint-Jean can be accessed by escalators or elevators.
(3) If you are lucky your train will be using voie (platform/track) 1, as it is adjacent to the main halls at the station, so has step free access from the street and tram stops.
(4) If the long distance train you're arriving or departing by isn't using voie (platform/track) 1, you will have to use the passage ways beneath the tracks make your way from and to the train.
(5) Bordeaux Saint Jean has two of these passage ways - and when arriving by train, you can use whichever of them is nearest to you when you step on to the voie/platform.
Both passage ways lead to the street and the tram stop (Bordeaux does not have a Metro).
(6) On voies (platforms/tracks) 2 – 7 there are easy to miss ramps that lead down to both passage ways, so you don’t have to use the stairs if you have luggage etc.
(7) Voies (platforms/tracks) 8 - 14 can only be accessed via steps to/from the passage ways.
The Intercités trains towards Toulouse and Marseille tend to arrive at and depart from this part of the station.
(The TGVs usually arrive at/depart from voies 1 – 7).
(8) Voies (platforms/tracks) A - C do have step free access, but they are only used by TER trains between Bordeaux and destinations to the south.
However, they are located on the far side of Halle 2, so are a 2 - 4 min walk away from Halle 1.
Bordeaux Saint-Jean is a large station, but it doesn’t particularly matter in which part of the station you wait for the departure details of the train you will be taking to be confirmed.
Just be sure you can see any of the departure screens, which are scattered around the station, from where you are waiting.
The specific voie (platform/track) which your train will be leaving from, will usually appear on these screens 10 – 20 mins prior to departure.
This information won’t be announced – and most announcements at stations in France are only made in the French language.
If you take a tram to the Gare de Bordeaux Saint-Jean, it will arrive outside Hall 2 at the station and you can wait in this part of the station for you train.
Though the main waiting rooms at the station are in a corridor which links this Hall 2 with Hall 1, which is where the main entrance to Bordeaux Saint-Jean leads into.
Voie (platform/track) 1 is beside these Halls 1 and 2, so access to the trains which depart from here is blissfully simple.
Voies (platforms/tracks) A – C are at the south end of the station, on the other side of Hall 2 and also have level access with the main station buildings; though they are only used by TER trains.
Two passage ways, the Nord passage way from Hall 1 and the Sud passage way near Hall 2, run under the railway lines and link the main station buildings to voies (platforms/tracks) 2 – 14.
There is an escalator in the Hall 1 which leads to the Nord passage way, which can be switched so that it is leading down or up, but the Sud passage way can only be accessed by steps from near Hall 2.
Both passage ways have steps and a slope which lead up to voies (platforms/tracks) 2 – 7, but voies (platforms/tracks) 8 – 14 can only be accessed by stairs.
Most of the TGV trains which will be departing from Bordeaux Saint-Jean comprise 16 – 20 coaches, so they occupy the full length of the voies (platforms/tracks).
The voies are divided into zones (repéres), but you can only check in which of these zones the coach (voiture), in which your seat is located, will occupy, on the departure screens that are on the voie (platform/track).
So it doesn’t matter which of the two passage ways you use to access your train, there’s no way of knowing which one will provide a short-cut, to the coach in which you will be travelling.
Bordeaux St Jean train station is some distance from the city centre - to walk to the cathedral in the heart of the city from the station, takes around 20-25 mins.
Tram line C is the only tram route in Bordeaux, which serves Saint-Jean station, it stops right outside Hall 2 at the station; at the 'Gare Saint Jean' stop.
If you use the main street exit from the station, from Hall 1, the tram stop will be over to the left, you can't miss it.
Line C gives good access to the eastern edge of the city centre, as it runs along the west bank of The Garonne River.
The line C trams (direction Les Aubiers) also stop in front of the Basilica of St. Michael at the 'St Michel' stop.
For Europe’s largest city square, the Place des Quinconces, take tram line C to the 'Quinconces' stop (6 stops from Gare St Jean).
To the heart of the old town from Bordeaux-St Jean:
Take tram line C to the 'Porte De Bourgogne' stop.
At the 'Porte De Bourgogne' stop you can transfer to Tram line A, which penetrates the historic heart of the city; the ‘Hotel De Ville’ stop is by the cathedral.
To the area around Place de la Victoire:
This part of town is a 15-20 min walk from Bordeaux St-Jean, but bus lines, 5, 16 and 45 to the Place de la Victoire depart from stops outside Gare St Jean.
Alternatively you can take the tram, though it's a roundabout route.
Take the tram line C (direction Les Aubiers) to the 'Quinconces' stop
Transfer there to Line B trams heading towards 'Pessac Centre' or 'France Alouette' as they stop at 'Victoire'.
To La Cité Du Vin from the main station in Bordeaux:
The tram is definitely the best means of accessing Bordeaux’s newest attraction La Cité Du Vin from Bordeaux St-Jean, as it’s located at the opposite end of the city to the station.
Take the tram line C (direction Les Aubiers) to the 'Quinconces' stop and transfer there to Line B (direction Berges de La Garonne).
Line B has a new tram stop at the 'Cité Du Vin'.
There are comparatively few hotels with high guest ratings, within a 5 min walk of Bordeaux St-Jean station, so a better option can to stay somewhere close to a Line C tram stop.
Within a 10 min walk of the station
Best Western Gare Saint Jean (3 star)
By the Quinconces tram stop:
Hotel Majestic Bordeaux (3 star)
Intercontinental Hotel Bordeaux (5 star)
By the Terres Neuves tram stop:
Hotel B&B Bordeaux Centre Bégles (2 star)
This is one of more than 300 station guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.