A showcase of the best of Southwest France, a Bordeaux river cruise will include sailing along three stunning rivers, the Garonne, Dordogne, and Gironde.
Explore the country’s breathtaking backdrops, wines, and cultural treasures across the region in Bordeaux, Fort Médoc, Cadillac, Blaye, Libourne, and more. Wander through archaeological marvels, historic landmarks, and magnificent vineyards where you’ll be treated to a sampling of quintessentially French experiences.
Route de la Cornich Fleurie
The road between Blaye and Bourg-sur-Gironde winds through picturesque hamlets with equally picturesque names—Pain de Sucre, Marmisson, and Roque de Thau among them—limestone cliffs on one side, the Gironde on the other. Fishing huts on stilts stand above the waters of the estuary; charming 19th-century stone houses built by sea captains sit tidily along the road. Many of these captains traveled to far-off places and returned with exotic plants, which they planted in their gardens and along the road (hence the route’s name). But the history of these cliffs extends far beyond the 19th century—people have inhabited the area for thousands of years.
Your guide will take you through the 17th-century demilune-shaped citadel built by famed military engineer Vauban. This fortress design was the one Vauban, Louis XIV’s favorite military engineer, found most satisfactory, and he built some 300 of them in the Sun King’s realm. The citadel contains the ruins of a medieval castle, houses, squares, streets, and even a convent, all enclosed within stark walls. If you stand on top of those walls, you will have a terrific view of the estuary— this view was the field of fire, giving the citadel command of the river.
Take a tour to Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Saint-Emilion is a charming medieval village located in the heart of the famous Bordeaux wine area. It is a very unique site where world-famous wineries, fine wine, beautiful architecture, and great monuments converge. You’ll marvel at the town’s superb medieval lanes and delightful views of the surrounding vineyards from the upper town. Wander its cobblestone lanes lined with wine shops and bakeries, and stop to admire the amazing rock-hewn church that extends beneath the city’s streets.
This is Médoc wine country, home to the famed wine-growing villages of Pauillac, Margaux, Saint-Estèphe, and Saint-Julien. Collectively, they produce some of the world’s most prestigious wines with four of the five Premier cru classé hailing from the Médoc region. A panoramic tour of this legendary landscape takes you from Pauillac to the tip of the Médoc peninsula, past storied vineyards of the region, including Château Latour, Mouton Rothschild, and Pichon Longueville Baron, and through the villages of Margaux, Saint-Julien, and Saint-Estèphe. You might be surprised to discover that the peninsula is only three miles wide, though it is 50 miles long. You may also opt to mount your bicycle in Pauillac and wheel out of town, pedaling through the lush landscapes of historic estates that have seemingly remained unchanged for centuries.
Discover the charming town of Cadillac
Stroll around one of France’s most picturesque towns; this riverside gem’s sole purpose was to protect Bordeaux from vessels coming downriver. Explore its heart, passing through the Sea Gate, with its crenelated crown, and Clock Gate, named for the colorful timekeeper near its top. Continue past Saint Blaise collegiate church and conclude your walk at the castle, one of the first examples of French-style architecture.
The Fascinating City of Bordeaux
Catch a tram at the Quai des Chartrons to the Place de la Comédie, the heart of Bordeaux’ Golden Triangle. Though Bordeaux was the capital of Aquitaine in the Middle Ages and has its share of Gothic churches, it reached its apex in the 18th century. The splendid honey-colored stone buildings from this era make up a city core that UNESCO has designated a World Heritage Site (this is the district that inspired Baron Haussmann when he redesigned Paris at the behest of Napoleon III). Trade with the French colonies built this handsome district, furnishing vanilla, sugar, spices, and cocoa to inventive chocolatiers and bakers, who used these goods to create iconic desserts. Chocolate, once a Spanish monopoly, became part of Bordeaux’s culinary heritage when banished Spanish Jews brought the art of chocolate-making to France. What are Bordeaux’s present-day residents enjoying when they step inside the luxurious food halls and elegant shops in this neighborhood? Find out as you sample the delicious handiwork of Bordeaux’s bakers, as well as cheeses and chocolates.
Get in touch with me today to learn more about this fascinating part of France and start planning your next trip.