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Train or Car? Paris - Amboise - Bordeaux - Bayonne to join RS Basque Country tour

Hello fellow travelers! We are debating whether to rent a car an drive from Paris to Amboise, then to Bordeaux and finally Bayonne to start our RS tour OR travel this route by train. If any one has a recommendation, please reply.

Thank you!

Posted by
5250 posts

If you're planning to stop and see things on the way, I suggest driving. Orly airport, on the southern outskirts of Paris, might be a good place to get the car.

A quick look at the SNCF website seems to suggest that trains from Amboise to Bordeaux go via Paris, where you have to change stations. The French rail system is notoriously Paris-centric.

Posted by
1777 posts

From the Paris Austerlitz station you can take a direct train to Amboise (1h 45m). You can then take a taxi to Saint-Pierre-des-Corps and pick up a car that can be returned at the Biarritz Airport located 3-miles from Bayonne’s city center.

Posted by
3803 posts

I would only rent a car for the Amboise part of the trip. You can either rent from Orly airport (or Gare de Lyon, or Gare Montparnasse, if you are OK dealing with some Paris traffic), or from Saint Pierre des Corps station which is 50 minutes from Paris by high-speed train.
I would then return the car in Saint Pierre des Corps and continue by train to Bordeaux, then Bayonne.

Now, if you want to visit the vineyards around Bordeaux and not just Bordeaux itself, you might want to keep the car the whole way to Bayonne. Bearing in mind that there is very little of interest between Amboise and Bordeaux (except Loches, but that's close to Amboise), and nothing but pine forest between Bordeaux and Bayonne.

By the way, trains from Amboise to Bordeaux do not go via Paris. It is just a short train ride to Saint Pierre des Corps, then onwards to Bordeaux.

Posted by
1992 posts

If you want to travel from Paris to Amboise, I would pick up a rental on the south side of Paris. From Gare Montparnasse it is very easy to head south to the périphérique and then onto A6. There is a Sixt agency at Port d´Orléans with direct access to A6 via the feeder road. Either would be a very easy. You can pick up at ORY, but that adds expense and time.

If you are arriving CDG and want to continue travel to Amboise, take the TGV to St Pierre des Corps from either the airport or from Gare Montparnasse and rent a car there. I would never arrive CDG after an all night flight and then commit to a 4 hour drive on the autoroute.

Without more information, you unlikely need a car in either Bordeaux or Bayonne.

Posted by
379 posts

It really depends what you want to do in Amboise and Bordeaux. If your plan is to stay local you can do it all by train, and not need a car at all:

Paris Austerlitz - Amboise is about 1h45 by train. It could be a direct service, or you may have to change in Orleans

Amboise - Saint Pierre des Corps about 20 minutes

Saint Pierre des Corps - Boredeaux is about 2 hours direct

Bordeaux - Bayonne is about 1h45

Even though I live in the area and drive regularly I would do it by train. Train is always my preference when the alternative is Autoroute slogs, and if you wanted to do this trip by car avoiding the autoroute it will take you 4 times as long

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you all for your thoughtful responses to my query. We would like to hire local guides in both Amboise and Bordeaux but have been unable to locate anyone operating independently in those cities. The RS Guide Marketplace lists two local guides for all of France - in Provence and Lyon. We wish to tour chateaux and wineries in Amboise and wine estates in Bordeaux. Online guide companies I've found all start and finish tours for the Amboise region in Paris. We will be in Amboise for three nights and Bordeaux for two nights.


Posted by
2133 posts

Tom Thal-Jantzen was our Road Scholar tour guide for our trip to France last year. He’s phenomenal - fun, easygoing, knowledgeable. He does private touring anywhere in France. We started our travels with him in Bordeaux and ended up in Toulouse. You can email him here to ask questions:

His prices are reasonable and you’d have an awesome time with him. He’s my favorite tour guide ever:)

Posted by
379 posts


I'd be interested to know what search terms (google, bing, etc) you are using that you can't find local guides for tours.(I have a bit of an alternative motive here - if the term you are putting in a search engine is giving no results it's a change I can make to our website)

The reason you won't find many Rick Steves tours in France is because apart from a few Anglos, no-one here has heard of him.

Posted by
8390 posts

For private tours, try Loire Valley Time Travel.