Moving to Bordeaux


My husband and I will be moving to Bordeaux within the next 6 months…I have many many questions and am open to any and all suggestions. The first problem I need to attack is what are the positives and negatives of living in the city proper vs. a home on the other side of the river. If I live on the other side of the river is there public transportation into the city? Can you suggest specific areas? My husband will be working in Bassans.

We are a 50 year old couple, we have college age kids who will remain in the states and will visit on Summer and Spring breaks.

I love to walk, cycle, anything outdoors.

Secondly I am going to feel fairly isolated since my husband will be working and I don’t speak enough French to have a friendly conversation. I plan on taking French while I am there, any suggestions on organizations that teach French.

Also, I would like to volunteer but since my language skills are limited I don’t think there are many options. I have looked into The Centre Aliénor school for guide dogs which I would love to do, however I want to connect with “humans”!

I am open to any suggestions…


Hi Shaun,

I can't really provide any specific advice on life in Bordeaux but have been operating an international moving company in France for the last 25 years so if there is anything I can do to assist you with your move please feel free to contact me. FYI, our website is

Best regards,

Andrew Smith

NM Europe

We moved to Bordeaux last year, please message me if you need anything - best thing we did! Bordeaux women’s club will help! Enjoy

La Bastide had a bad reputation. The city of Bordeaux has engaged a lot of projects of re-urbanisation of the "rive droite" (hence the availability of apartments).But it's reputation remains...

Bouilac would be an excellent choice to settle down (that is if you like a gigantic red/whit antenna in your backyard :-)) It's a quit little town, just at the side of the Garonne and the A10. Getting there by busses etc might be a little difficult, but when your kids arrive youo can always hire a car for the time being.

As for renting; I hope your husband's employer will provide something for the first few months. The renting option will indeed limit your chances. You need to go through local commercial estate agencies to find something. French landlords are very demanding, they don't accept just anybody to rent their property. There's a whole lot of paperwork etc. to be done. Might be a good thing that your husband tries to smooth the way via his employer..

Hi Ben,

Well after many delays, my husband leaves for Bordeaux in two weeks so the search for a small dwelling is on. We have decided to keep our home in the states so I can deal with health issues so we will have to be frugal. Wanted to pick your brain about the Bastide area and surrounding right side. It will be the 2 of us and our dog. Our teens would visit occasionally and would use public transport. We can get by with 2 bedrooms. My husband mentioned the Bastide area. It seems the area is loaded with apartments which may be ok but how are the houses there? Bouliac looks like what I would love from what I can see on google street view but someone said there is not access to the tram. We will be renting so that will certainly limit our house options. I am planning on a trip over sometime in March to meet with a realtor but wanted to do my research first since we will be there 4 years. Thanks again for your input.

Hi Shauna

I know Cauderan pretty well. It's a fairly new little town, that developed very rapidly in the late 1960's. It is a relatively quiet residential area, with a relatively high amount of "residences" or housing estates of houses with gardens.With all the shops and public functions you need. Only downside is for your husband then, Bassans is on the other side of the Garonne which means that he would have to cross the city of Bordeaux to go to work or take the "Rocade". Both are packed with cars during rush-hours.

As for the industrial estates on the Bassens side: I meant really industrial. Some of them have now been replaced or converted into office buildings or housing estates.

If you're a real "foodie" you will love "Les Epicuriales", a gastronomical feast in the center of Bordeaux (Think it's now every two years, so the next one should be in June 2013). Lots of opportunities to taste good food and/or do some workshops.

If your kids are used to driving in Chicago (love the place!) they should have no problem in Bordeaux.

You can pick my brain any time



Hi again Shauna. Our Red Cross delegation here in Issoire is very active & has a sort of charity shop selling clothes & baby stuff so I help with that…as well as the Christmas Market & other things in & around Issoire.As for language lessons…I think that depends on the way you learn really. I always knew they were not for me… there is too much concentration on grammar & not enough opportunities to speak…which is the most important thing to do. My advice would always be to just get out & about, join things & associations (I also go to an art class) & speak to people as much as possible. I have found that so long as you try people are very helpful & don`t care if you make mistakes. The grammar will come the more you speak

Hi Ben,

Wow...a wealth of information. Thanks so much for taking the time to help me out. I especially am intrigued by "Le Pavillon des Boulevards". I have many "foodies" who are already planning their visits.

At first I thought I wanted to live in the City, I grew up in Chicago, but like you I think we want a little more space and privacy. I would like the option of public transportation nearby especially for when my kids visit. The thought of them driving in Bordeaux is a little unnerving. When you mention "ancient industrial estates" are you referring to businesses? Are you familiar with the area called Cauderon near Park Bordelais?. It is a little Northwest of the city.

I just found out I will be working with a French tutor before I leave the states but I will need to continue taking courses once I arrive so I will check into "Alliance Francaise" I took a class in the states with them but that was over 20 years ago! I am also hoping to take some other classes, cooking or wine appreciation, possibly in English until I get a better grasp on the Language.

As soon as we look at our housing options, I will pick your brain and get your opinion.

Again, many thanks, and love the profile pic. How old is your baby?


Worked for 5 years in Bordeaux, beautiful city, lots of culture, museums, architecture both modern and old, shops and malls, events, everything you might expect from a city that's classified in as a "World Heritage"city by the Unesco and is also the forth largest city of France. In general nice people, who flock the streets in large numbers during a Saturday and sometimes you can fire a conon on Tuesday without hurting anyone in the city center. . You can find the finest restaurants ("Le Pavillon des Boulevards" being one of Bordeaux' best kept secrets). Due to it's universities it has also a dynamism of all the students

But also a city that is getting more and more expensive to live in, prices of nicely situated well-kept properties are very high and the annual taxes (both habitation and foncières) are of an according level, both in Bordeaux and its surrounding communities of the CUB

If we would have been just my wife an me we could have considered living in the actual city. But then again we had young kids and I love gardening so we decided to go outside the city. We settled down in Canéjan, to the south. And actually it never bothered us. If you don't need to get in and out of to the city during rush-hours, Bordeaux is very accessible by car and public transports.

If you want to live outside the city, then the "rive droite" might be the best option since Bassans is part of that. But that side of Bordeaux is riddled with ancient industrial estates which you have to like also.

As for the French language, I did not speak any when I arrived. And I knew that I was not quickly going to acquire the language knowledge of someone who has been trough the French school-system. So I signed up with three months of courses from the "Alliance Francaise" ( . They do intense courses which do give you some basics on the language but also some confidence in speaking the language at all. BLS ( is another one, also in that same type of learning system

And indeed TV (turn on the text whenever possible, combining reading and listening) and, why not start with the basic grammar books. There is a complete serie called "Grammaire progressieve du Français" available in any good bookstore. It consist of several books and annexes with exercises, each one at a different level. But only useful if you can read a bit of French ;)

Allthough I live in the Charente now, don't hesitate if you need any further help or advice.



Hi Christine…thanks so much for the tips! If they can teach an old dog new tricks then there might be hope for me! I am supposed to start classes with a French tutor but I already know from a prior stage in France that speaking the language is one thing, listening and comprehending is another so your TV idea is excellent. What are some of the the things you do with Croix Rouge, that sounds interesting. I have always kept up with my CPR and first aid certifications here in the states. I have also volunteered at our local children’s hospital but like yourself was more of a social advocate than hands on with the kiddos.

Hi Shauna. Can`t help with the questions re Bordeaux but re learning the language etc. Try to watch French TV for a while using French subtitles for the deaf(via teletext)It helped me bigtime when we moved here & we found that French TV is not that bad. We still have no English TV - by choice now. Secondly re volunteering - I joined the Croix Rouge here & found them very friendly indeed. I help out on the social side of their work (my French wasn`t up to doing the first aid stuff even though I was a trained first aid teacher in the UK)& this helped me make many friends & improved the language skills a lot. Good luck with the move