Cruises through Bordeaux combine the chance to savour some of the world’s top wines while indulging in the best of French country living.
Rolling countryside dotted with rows of vines, medieval villages and grand chateaux make explorations of this region easy on the eye, while bustling markets of local produce and famous vintages makes it even easier on the palate.
This corner of south-west France is one of the newer destinations to bring fresh flavour to the river cruising scene with traditional Gallic culture discovered on bike rides, chateau tours and wine-tastings.
Visitors may be surprised to learn that there is no Bordeaux River. Instead, sailings follow the Dordogne and Garonne rivers which converge in Bordeaux before flowing into the Gironde Estuary.
Along the way are atmospheric towns and villages, though at this region’s heart is the city of Bordeaux, regarded as France’s indisputable wine capital and nicknamed “Petit Paris”, with its tree-lined streets of neoclassical architecture and grand mansions.
This is where sailings tend to start and finish, with vessels mooring overnight to allow more time to explore, while prominent stops such as St Émilion, Médoc and Blaye (the stopping off point for Cognac), are related to their gastronomic appeal and proximity to famous wine estates and chateaux.
Sailings run from March to November and while the summer guarantees hot temperatures, September and October are regarded as the best months when temperatures are more comfortable for sightseeing and harvest time is in full swing.
Vineyard tours and wine tastings, trips to local markets, chateaux tours, culinary classes, sampling local specialities and truffle hunting. Bordeaux, St Émilion, Bergerac, Blaye, Libourne and its renowned farmer’s market, plus Arcachon – a resort town on the Atlantic coast famed for its oyster farms and the largest sand dunes in Europe.