Detail on the new public transport from Paris to Bordeaux will open on 2 July 2017, it saves about 75 minutes for journey time. From City of Lights to the City of Wine only 2 hours and total time from London to Bordeaux with a change of trains in Paris is 5 hours and 50 minutes.
Bordeaux has had a dramatic makeover in the past two decades, the most impressive addition being the Cité du Vin, a mega-museum opened last summer and dedicated to the global story of wine. Housed in an €81m glass building, the museum offers a mind-boggling array of interactive displays, plus not-to-be-missed wine tastings on the top floor.
Immediately west of the museum, the Chartrons district of former warehouses and wine aristocrats’ houses is now Bordeaux’s most happening neighbourhood, with the boutiques and wine bars of rue Notre Dame at its heart. For lunch or dinner, try La Table de Bécassine (63 rue Borie, +33 6 63 30 94 36), which sources its meats from local farms, or the more venerable Chez Dupont bistro (45 rue Notre Dame), which also has five guestrooms (from €115 B&B) in a building opposite.
Under an hour by train from Bordeaux, the Bassin d’Arcachon makes the perfect escape. Arcachon town is a charming seaside resort, its streets lined with elegant belle époque villas. The soft, golden sand beaches close to town are ideal for families, with the basin offering protection from the mighty Atlantic waves. A few kilometres to the south of Arcachon (regular buses from outside the station) is Europe’s largest sand dune, the Dune du Pilat; climb its 100-metre sands and play Lawrence of Arabia while admiring the incredible views of the Cap Ferret peninsula curling around the tidal basin.
It’s another half-hour ferry ride across the mouth of the bay to Cap Ferret, but it’s well worth it to explore the shabby chic playground of sophisticated Parisians and Bordelais. On the Atlantic coast, surfers ride the ferocious waves, but life’s tempo is slower on the inner coastline, where oyster fishing communities huddle on the shores. The village of Le Cap Ferret has a lighthouse and several chic oyster-and-wine bars, but L’Herbe, further south, is more enchanting. At its gateway, the curious Chapelle de Villa Algérienne looks out over the blue water and, further on, Hotel de la Plage is no longer a hotel but a restaurant serving platters of freshly landed oysters (from €14). Venture further into the maze of wooden shacks and there’s similar fare at La Cabane Des Kikouyou (29 Avenue de l’Herbe), with its Robinson Crusoe-esque terrace overlooking the water.
Once the TGV Océane line opens, Parisians will flock to this picturesque spot, and with 2.4 million visitors expected on the line every year, there will no doubt be Brits among them, too.