From its noble châteaux to its breathtaking estuary, Bordeaux is an oenophile’s paradise and every traveler’s dream. Sail three stunning rivers—the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde—on one amazing journey.
Savor the unique heritage of southwest France, from delightful Pauillac, the gateway to the storied Médoc wine route, to elegant Bordeaux, the “Pearl of the Aquitaine,” as the region is also known. Explore Saint-Émilion’s astonishing 12th-century Monolithic Church, and enjoy the beautiful Médoc vineyards on a bicycle.
Throughout your journey, you’ll be treated to a grand display of culinary magic. Taste regional delights and delve deeply into the region’s exalted wines. Taste lovely Médoc vintages; visit the cellars of Premier Grand Cru in Saint-Émilion, where you’ll savor the world’s most highly rated wines; and embark upon a study of Sauternes, meeting the winemakers and enjoying a wine-pairing lunch at Château de Cazeneuve. Discover the douceur de vivre (sweet life) for which this region is known.
Who will enjoy this cruise? Nature lovers and those interested in epicurean pursuits, winemaking (and tasting!) and culture.
Arrive at Bordeaux–Mérignac International Airport, where you will be transferred to the ship. Your ship is conveniently docked right in the heart of the city, so if time allows, stroll to the nearby food markets or visit the popular Saint-Michel antique market.
FEATURED EXCURSION: Cadillac, châteaux, and Sauternes vineyards with exclusive artisanal wine-pairing lunch at Château de Cazeneuve
Vous êtes arrivé à Cadillac, the area known for producing sweet dessert wines under the celebrated Cadillac AOC designation. Today, you’ll embark on a study of Sauternes, the sweet wine which is named for the region. Sauternes is made from grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, a fungus that causes a raisin-like decay, resulting in a concentrated and distinctly flavored sweet wine.
You’ll meet the winemakers and enjoy an elegant wine-pairing lunch at Château de Cazeneuve, an 85-acre estate with a manor house first built in the ninth century. Enjoy a fabulous luncheon paired with three Sauternes wines of different estates and vintages. You’ll discover the characteristics of each wine: the flavors that result from the different terroir and the different personalities of the wine makers. Learn how easy (and fun!) it is to pair a sweet wine with a whole new variety of dishes. The tour concludes with a stop at another Sauternes vineyard, where you can meet the winemakers and expand your knowledge of this special wine.
In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner.
Cruising the Garone River and Gironde Estuary, Pauillac
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Médoc panoramic tour with exclusive wine tasting or exclusive guided “Go Active” vineyard bicycle ride with wine tasting
Set sail on the Garonne for the pretty town of Pauillac, gateway to the storied Médoc wine route. In Pauillac, you’ll begin a panoramic tour of the heart of the Haut-Médoc AOC (or appellation d’origine contrôlée, a geographical designation that denotes where grapes are grown) before enjoying a visit to a winery where you’ll get a chance to taste the celebrated Médoc wines. Or experience the terroir in an entirely different way: with a guided bike ride through the beautiful Médoc vineyards. You’ll get an up-close look at the vines and a real feel for the atmosphere—the earth, the sunshine—of this famous wine-growing region.
Blaye, cruising the Gironde Estuary and Dordogne River, Libourne
FEATURED EXCURSION:Scenic drive along the Route de la Corniche Fleurie with Blaye Fortress
Be treated to a scenic drive alongside limestone cliffs on a little road called the Route de la Corniche Fleurie. The road winds through the picturesque hamlets of Pain de Sucre, Marmisson, and Roque de Thau, where you’ll find charming stone houses built by 19th-century ship captains.
FEATURED EXCURSION: Saint-Émilion walking tour with wine tasting
Saint-Émilion offers exceptional historic architecture, and historic vineyards, too. The Romans were the first to plant grapes here, and this was the first vineyard region to be protected by UNESCO. The town, built atop limestone hills, offers many interesting shops, but what makes it extraordinary is what exists below the cobbled streets—Saint- Émilion’s Monolithic Church, which dates back to the 12th century. After touring Saint-Émilion, you’ll visit the cellars of a Premier Grand Cru estate where you’ll taste some of the world’s most highly rated wines.
Libourne, cruising the Garonne River, Bordeaux
FEATURED EXCURSION: Libourne “Village Day” with farmers market and exclusive private evening tour of Bordeaux
Stroll past the medieval river gate and 17th-century stone houses to the center of Libourne, where the bustling farmers market spreads out before the Town Hall and sprawls into the neighboring streets, offering a bounty of produce, cheeses, charcuterie, and other foodstuffs. Explore the outdoor market with your guide—and the inviting indoor market too—and then visit artisans who make some of the goods arrayed so enticingly in the market stalls, as well as workshops of local craftsmen.
Enjoy an exclusive evening tour, Bordeaux under the stars—what could be more magical? After Paris, Bordeaux has more protected buildings than any other French city. From the alleyways of the Saint-Pierre district to the avenues of the Place des Quinconces, you’ll see why Queen Elizabeth II deemed Bordeaux “the essence of elegance."
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Bordeaux walking tour or exclusive guided “Go Active” bicycle ride through the city
See Bordeaux à pied on a fascinating walking tour of the Golden Triangle, where you’ll encounter the very best the city has to offer. Explore luxury food halls, sample Bordeaux’s famous canelés and chocolates, discover marvelous 18th-century architecture, and visit an elegant wine bar popular with locals.
If you’re looking for something more active, enjoy the “Pearl of Aquitaine” from the seat of a bike on a guided ride. You’ll have plenty of free time to further enjoy Bordeaux on your own. Revisit some of the places you saw on your tour, explore new sights, or indulge in a little shopping. The choice is yours! A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
Bordeaux (disembark), transfer to the airport
Disembark the ship and transfer to Bordeaux– Mérignac International Airport for your flight home.
You will visit the following 5 places:
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in southwest France, with an estimated (2008) population of 250,082. The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture of the Gironde department. Its inhabitants are called Bordelais. Bordeaux is the world's major wine industry capital. It is home to the world's main wine fair, Vinexpo, while the wine economy in the metro area moves 14.5 billion euros each year. Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the eighth century. The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" of the 18th century.
Libourne is a commune in the Gironde department in Aquitaine in southwestern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department. It is the wine-making capital of northern Gironde and lies near Saint-Émilion and Pomerol. The Gothic church, restored in the 19th century, has a stone spire 232 ft (71 m) high. On the quay there is a machicolated clock-tower which is a survival of the defensive walls of the 14th century; and the town-house, containing a small museum and a library, is a quaint relic of the 16th century. It is located by the main square, the Place Abel Surchamp, which hosts every week end one of the largest fresh food market in the region.