Getting around by car gives you maximum freedom to explore everything Nouvelle-Aquitaine has to offer, even in far flung areas. There is an extensive and high quality road network both on the coast, in town, in the countryside and in the mountains.
The Nouvelle-Aquitaine motorways mean that you can easily get from A to Z anywhere in the area:
- The A10 (from Paris to Spain via Bordeaux) exits for Poitiers and Futuroscope, Niort, the Marais Poitevin, La Rochelle and île de Ré, Saintes, Royan, Rochefort and île d’Oléron.
- The A20 (from Paris to Toulouse via Limoges) is free in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, more specifically between Vierzon and south of Brive-la-Gaillarde.
- The A62 links Bordeaux to Toulouse via Langon and Agen, down through the Garonne Valley.
- The A63 carries on from the A10 in Bordeaux towards Spain with exits to the Bay of Arcachon, the Landes forests and the Basque Country.
- The A64 is the easiest way to get between Bordeaux, the Eastern Pyrenees and their capital, Pau.
- The A65 creates a direct link between the Basque Country (Biarritz to Bayonne) and the Béarn (Pau).
- The A83 is one of the main entry points to the north of the region. It comes from Nantes and merges with the A10 near Niort.
- The A89 links Bordeaux to Lyon via Brive-la-Gaillarde and facilitates access to the Dordogne Valley (Libourne, the Périgord, Brive and Tulle).
These motorways offer excellent traffic conditions along with multiple service and rest stations (service stations, gift shops, restaurants. At the Poitou-Charente Service Area south of Niort you'll even find a hotel).
The secondary network is also very high quality. Several main "nationale" roads have been turned into dual carriageways, for example the N10 between Poitiers, Angoulême and Bordeaux or the N141 between Limoges, Angoulême and Royan.
Bridges are free for all users: the Pont d'Aquitaine in Bordeaux, the bridges over the Charente at Rochefort, over the Seudre in Marennes or to the île d'Oléron. The only paying bridge is the one to the île de Ré; proceeds go towards protecting the fragile environment of this beautiful little island.
Distances between the main towns.
Where can you find a car rental agency in Nouvelle-Aquitaine? Most rental agencies (Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Sixt…) are located in airports or in and around train stations of the main towns (Bordeaux, Biarritz, Limoges, Pau, La Rochelle, Poitiers...).
In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, it's easy to travel by bus, especially with the international and national lines.
Private companies, such as Ouibus, Flixbus or Eurolines have routes that cross the region, especially on a North-South axis (Paris-Spain via Bordeaux for example) and often at really attractive rates.
For getting around locally, the regional public TER network with its 280 regular bus routes provides often little-known possibilities.
The inter-urban regional bus network used to be run by the departments, these days it is run by the Region directly. Even though many of these bus routes are mostly used during term time by school pupils and students, they also provide a secondary service all year round to complement the train.
Summer routes are put into service to make life easier for holiday makers:
- Limoges - Lake Vassivière with special “Passauvert” buses gets you to Lake Vassivière from Limoges and other local stations.
- From Poitiers railway station, buses run daily to all the main tourist sites in the Vienne (St Cyr Lake, Monkey Valley, DéfiPlanet…).
You can find all the information you need (timetables, rates and ticket sales) in all SNCF stations and on the Nouvelle-Aquitaine website: transports.nouvelle-aquitaine.fr or by calling the Nouvelle-Aquitaine TER freephone number: 0 800 872 872
Reliable and best for the environment, the train provides good links, especially north-south (from and to Paris).
The Tours-Bordeaux high speed line (LGV L’Océane) that opened in 2017, means you can now get from Bordeaux to Paris in the record time of 2 hours. It also enables better SNCF links between Poitiers, Angoulême and Bordeaux. But also to La Rochelle, Dax and Biarritz or Agen.
The main national “Intercité” network lines goes to Limoges and Brive with trains on the Paris-Limoges route and La Rochelle and Saintes with a Nantes-Bordeaux intercity.
The secondary rail network in Nouvelle-Aquitaine is concentrated around the main agglomerations; Bordeaux, Biarritz, Limoges, Poitiers and La Rochelle. This network is used by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine TER trains. It's an extensive network with 32 regional lines serving over 300 localities with comfortable and often very new trains.
Beach Trains with the PassOcéan
The best way to avoid problems with parking and possible traffic jams to the beaches is to go by train! Several offers exist every summer to link the main towns in the area to the Atlantic coast. For example, Bordeaux - Arcachon only costs €15 with the PassOcéan. Find out more on summer offers at transports.nouvelle-aquitaine.fr
Transport in town
Every town in Nouvelle-Aquitaine has its own public bus network for the local conurbation. Many towns also have bike hire and car sharing options. Obviously from stations and airports you can always get a taxi.
In Bordeaux, a good tramway network runs through the city and stops at all the main points of interest (Gare St Jean, Stade Matmut Atlantique, place de la Bourse…). A shuttle service goes from the airport and the St. Jean Railway station in Bordeaux (direct bus). A good tip in Bordeaux is to take a boat across the Garonne for the price of a bus ticket. You'll find all the info you need here : Transports Bordeaux Métropole
From Poitiers station you can rent electric bikes and the n°1 bus will take you to Futuroscope : Vitalis Poitiers
In La Rochelle don't miss the sea bus in the old port to the Minimes Yacht Marina : Yélo La Rochelle
In Limoges, buses and trolleys run through town : Transports Limoges
In Pau and Angoulême you'll find busways, High Quality service buses that run in the summer.
Cycling is an increasingly popular means of transport in France, especially in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
La Rochelle was a pioneer with its yellow bikes and Bordeaux is one of the most "cyclable" towns in France. Alongside the cycle lanes in the towns, longer national itineraries have been developed in Nouvelle-Aquitaine:
- the Vélodyssée, an Atlantic cycle pathway from La Rochelle to Hendaye in the Basque Country.
- the Vélofrancette, linking the Loire Valley from Saumur to the Atlantic coast passing through the Thouet Valley, the Marais Poitevin and La Rochelle.
- the Canal of the 2 seas by bike, goes from Royan, following the Gironde Estuary and the Garonne Valley.
- the Scandibérique, links Scandinavia to the Iberian peninsula crossing Nouvelle-Aquitaine from north to south via the Vienne Valley, Charente, Bordeaux, the Landes forests and Western Pyrenees on the Camino de Santiago.
- the FlowVélo, runs through a large part of the Charente Valley, from northern Dordogne to the île d'Aix.
Cycling networks are also very developed along the coast, particularly on the islands of Ré and Oléron.
Cycling here is safe and simple. And finding bike rentals is really easy.
There are several shipping links to the Charente-Maritime islands for cyclists and foot passengers:
- to the île d’Aix (from the pointe de la Fumée in Fouras, near Rochefort)
- to the île de Ré and île d’Oléron from La Rochelle
The Gironde Estuary can be crossed by car, bike or on foot using the ferry with two possible routes:
- Le Verdon - Royan
- Blaye - Lamarque
Transport en Ferry