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How to Get to Bayonne from Naples

We have signed up for 2 Rick Steves Tour; Best of South Italy, followed by Basque Country of Spain and France. We have 4 nights between the tours, but we are planning on arriving in Bayonne (beginning of Basque Country) a day early.
Seeking suggestions for 3 nights to "decompress and relax" before beginning the second tour. The South Italy tour ends in Naples and the Basque tour begins in Bayonne, France.
Right now, we are leaning toward Paris mainly because traveling to Bayonne from there would be convenient by train and there is a flight from Naples to Paris. We would NOT expect to do much sightseeing in Paris, having been there many times previously. Paris is always great, but wonder if anyone has other suggestions where we could relax for 3 nights.
Thanks!

Posted by
3354 posts

Flying into Paris would be easy, and it looks like there are quite a few daily trains to Bayonne. I noticed that Bordeaux is one of the stops on that route. If you enjoy wine and good food, that might be of interest for a couple of nights.

Posted by
2740 posts

I was also going to recommend Bordeaux - the city and the wine. You can get a direct flight from Naples. If Bordeaux doesn’t appeal to you, you can head to Bergerac by a short train ride (or rent a car) and explore the Dordogne. Getting to Bayonne from Bordeaux is less than two hours by train.

Enjoy the txakoli and pintxos in San Sebastián!

Posted by
4187 posts

If there are flights from Naples to Bordeaux, then definitely Bordeaux as recommended above.
Otherwise, I know that there are flights from Naples to Toulouse (perhaps not daily), which would be another very good option, 3.5 hours by slow, cheap train away from Bayonne.
Both are logistically better choices than Paris for such a short stay, in my opinion.

Posted by
451 posts

CJ and Philip: Thanks for recommending Bordeux. It wasn't on our radar...since we haven't spent any time in that part of France. I'll keep it in mind when I begin to put more thought in where to spend 3 nights. I want a city that is "walkable," but picturesque; where "food/meals" are close by. Maybe do laundry too!
Balso: I like the idea of flying directly from Naples to Toulouse (isn't that Van Gogh country?). It would be more difficult to have to fly into Paris....and then leave without a good baguette.
I appreciate both city suggestions very much. Thanks!

Posted by
9928 posts

Carol, do you follow the RS guide Véro on FB? She just spent time in Toulouse and also posted a cool place for lunch in Bordeaux near the train station.

I just spent a few nights in both cities. I preferred Bordeaux but it might have been because I was tiring by the time I got to Toulouse. Both have vibrant city centers. I loved the riverfront in Bordeaux.

Posted by
21317 posts

I enjoyed both Bordeaux and Toulouse. Bordeaux's train station is a bit isolated from the parts of the city of most tourist interest. I think you'd spend more time just getting from place to place in Bordeaux. Aside from Bordeaux's proximity to the Dordogne (which you don't have time for on this trip), I'd choose Toulouse first. Albi is a reasonable day-trip from Toulouse. The Toulouse-Lautrec Museum in Albi is really good, and I'm not a hug fan of T-L. The cathedral in Albi further justifies a side-trip there.

There's a good bit to see and do in Bayonne as well, including a small chocolate museum with a (pre-COVID, at least) generous tasting room.

Posted by
451 posts

Pam, I'll have to check out Véro on FB. I don't have an account, but hubby does. I just lurk.
Do you (or anyone else) have any recommendations for lodging in Bordeaux?

Posted by
9928 posts

The Road Scholar tour I was on stayed at the Best Western Bayonne Etche-Ona. The location was really awesome. Right in the old city center. One tram line 1/2 block away, one 2 blocks away. Many restaurants within a short distance. It’s more a business class hotel rather than the typical Rick Steves hotel but I’d stay there again. There are 2 separate buildings but they are right around the corner from each other. The rooms had air conditioning and it was still on in early October. I felt bad turning it on but I left the window open the first night and got chewed by mosquitoes (mosquito magnet here - I’d swear they can find me in Idaho with 10 ft of snow on the ground). There was some noise from a nearby carnival set up on Place des Quinconces so the closed window took care of that.

Had Nespresso machines in the room which was great once I you-tubed the instructions, lol.

I enjoyed the Musee des Beaux-Arts, the Saint-Andre Cathedral (part of which was standing for Aliénor d’Aquitaine’s wedding to one of her husbands - maybe it was the one who became Louis VII?), the Musee d’Aquitaine (did not have enough time here), all within walking distance. Did not do the City of wine thing or the Lumiere presentation in the disused German submarine base (have done one in Paris and one in Les Baux). Did not get to the Botanical Garden or a couple other smaller museums that looked interesting.

Walked along the river to the statue of the enslaved Ethiopian woman who was imported by Bordeaux traders, sold on to Santo Domingo and was the ancestor to a President of Haiti. I can’t remember how I knew this was there - might have seen it on Dr Henry Louis Gates Jr’s Finding Your Roots.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modeste_Testas

The pedestrian streets were packed on the weekend. Heard no English, only French. Lots of students.

Can you tell I enjoyed it? Hahaha....

Posted by
451 posts

Acraven and Pam, Thanks for both mentioning Tousouse and Bordeaux; I hadn't considered either, so checked Google flights and both cities have flights from Naples.
Acraven, you mentioned that the train station in Bordeaux is far from city center, so I checked and saw that a tram line connects the station to downtown. I read in another of your post that you are "queen of the pokey trip,' which is kind of us too. We often begin walking to a certain destination, but then something else catches our attention, and we find ourselves meandering elsewhere.
Pam, by your description, it seems that IF we choose a hotel in the city center of Bordeaux, it would be possible to walk to places of interest, which sounds like a great way to spend 3 nights between tours. We would not care to spend much time traveling to other locations for sights, etc. We would just want to relax somewhere picturesque.
I checked hotels on Bookings, and the hotel hotel you mentioned is on the pricier side, but since you experienced mosquitoes in October, having A/C would be very important to me too. Mosquitos love me!

Posted by
21317 posts

I used the tram a couple of times, and it was perfectly fine for me. Another poster, however, mentioned that it stopped running quite early in the evening. Staying in the historic center is a good plan if you'll be there for 3 nights.

Posted by
451 posts

To all who suggested places in France, your suggestions were really appreciated. After reading more about the city of Bordeaux (I always thought it was just a wine region), I have decided it would be a great place to hang out for 3 nights before beginning another organized tour. I also found out that the city itself is a World Heritage Site! We love history...and connecting the dots. Maybe our three days won't be so relaxing if there is much to see.

Posted by
21317 posts

I was disappointed to find the Resistance museum (Centre Jean Moulin) closed at the time of my 2019 visit. It's undergoing major renovation. It might have reopened by the time you get to Bordeaux. If not, some items from its collection are currently at the Musée d'Aquitaine.

The city's website has a list of what I'd guess is all the local museums. See the left panel here: https://www.bordeaux.fr/p63906/centre-jean-moulin

The Centre du Vin gets rather mediocre reviews. I'm not a wine person and only went there to see an exhibition of contemporary wine glasses, so I have no personal opinion about the center. About a block away there was a large building with prepared-food stalls. Choices seemed interesting and relatively high-quality. Seating was limited, though.

If you run out of things to see in Bordeaux or want a change of scene, the wine town of St-Emilion is day-trippable. It is a very popular tourist destination, but I enjoyed wandering down through the medieval upper town. Most of the visitors didn't go up there. The train station is some distance from the town; I took the little pseudo-train up to the top of St-Emilion. I believe it cost 4 euros one-way. I walked back to the station. St-Emilion has a lot of cobbles. Definitely slippery when wet, made more dangerous because of the hilliness.

Posted by
451 posts

acraven, thanks for the additional info. If the Resistance museum is open, we'll definitely try and go there. Hubby especially is really into WWII historical places. And I've read a good share of historical novels set in France, and the role of the resistance fighters.
Wine town of St-Emilion sounds so tempting. I can envision our "relaxing 3 days" rapidly diminishing. One of us appreciates a good red wine, and the other loves wandering through picturesque streets. Thanks for the warning about cobblestones. We wear very sturdy-soled shoes; and we'll have trekking poles with us because of the Camino part of the Basque tour.
Not sure how many museums would interest us, but....the large building with prepared-food stalls always gets our attention.
I really appreciate you taking time to write such detailed suggestions. Thanks! A week ago, I didn't know anything about the area!

Posted by
725 posts

Carol,
We are signed up for the Basque tour at the end of May. When is your tour? Planning on spending 2 nights pre-tour in Bordeaux, which was really the only option given our love of red wine!

Do you think we would need to pre purchase the train ticket from Bordeaux to Bayonne for the start of the tour?
Are you staying post tour in Bilbao?

Posted by
4187 posts

I can answer regarding the train from Bordeaux to Bayonne.
There are two types of train that take about the same time (<2 hours): long-distance "TGV Inoui" and local "TER".
Local TER train tickets can be bought on the day and do not sell out. But if the "TGV Inoui" times suit you better, you need to book that in advance for a better price.