1. Location, location, location
This thrilling cruising region is composed of the rivers Garonne and Dordogne flowing into the Atlantic ocean, which together make up the Gironde estuary. A Bordeaux cruise will take you to delightful moorings on both rivers and indeed the CroisiEurope line uniquely includes a trip as far as Rohan on the northern tip – well worth doing. On a week’s cruise you’ll see many sights just from your deck chair – small villages and steepled churches, limestone cliffs and hillsides, troglodyte dwellings, stilted carrelet fishing huts, and a myriad of bridges, including the famous Pont Pierre and the lifting bridge of Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux Itself. On this busy waterway there’s never a dull moment and if you like being on smooth, wave-less water, seeing the tides turn and watching the colour and texture of the waters change with the sky and wind, then you’ll delight in this region.
Inhabited for thousands of years, including being in English hands for 300 of them, it was the Romans that introduced the vine for which Bordeaux is famed. Naturally, there is history everywhere, from the many denominations of monk that settled to tend the vineyards, to the defensive bastide towns of the 100 years war, to the merchants from all over Europe that came to make their fortunes from the wine industry. But none of it would have been possible without the waterways and the city’s ability to trade by sea.
With over 8,500 châteaux in the region, the landscape is covered in green corduroy vineyards as far as the eye can see. However, the variety of wines produced is endless. On every Bordeaux cruise there are excursions to the famous Grand Cru châteaux and at least two tastings in the Medoc and St Emilion vineyards. Wines served on board your riverboat will also include reds, rosés and whites from the local appellations. Never a thirsty moment.
One of the most important and beautiful cities in France, Bordeaux was the region’s first trading port and now claims the largest town square and the longest pedestrianised street in Europe. In addition to literally hundreds of worthy tourist attractions, such as the old Grand Theatre and the new Cité de Vin, it offers the innovative and spectacular Mirror d’Eau in front of the Place de la Bourse – every 20 minutes the reflection breaks into a dreamy mist. Bordeaux’s setting on the bend of the river Garonne, the Port de la Lune, with its beautiful stand of 18th century merchants’ houses and prominent maritime buildings, provides one of the most romantic promenades in the world.
5. Bordeaux cruise excursions
On the list of Bordeaux cruise excursions to choose from are walking, cycling and coach tours, with English speaking guides, local specialists and hosts for tastings and tours of historic sites.
- Medoc – Chateaux de Margaux, St Julien, Haute-Medoc, Lafitte Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild and Latour
- Dordogne – the Corniche route, Blaye and Vauban’s Citadel, Bourg
- St Emilion – vineyards, tastings, the medieval town and monolithic church
- Bordeaux – panoramic coach and walking tour
- Cadillac – town tour, and the stunning Château de Roquetaillade
Fly to Bordeaux’s international airport (at Merignac, code BOD) or take the TGV fast train service from Gare Montparnasse in central Paris to reach Bordeaux in a little over 2 hours. It couldn’t get much easier. Large freight ships continue to supply Bordeaux and the surrounding area, including parts to build the Airbus 380 at HQ in Toulouse, and ocean going cruise ships also stop in Bordeaux as part of their tour around the major global cities.
Read more about our cruise aboard MS Cyrano de Bergerac: