Bordeaux River Cruises: UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Great Wines & Charming Towns
By the time you read this, River Cruise Advisor’s Ralph Grizzle will be in the beautiful city of Bordeaux, France. His home for eight days is AmaWaterways’ sleek 148-guest AmaDolce, which operates the line’s popular Taste of Bordeaux itinerary.
From Bordeaux, Ralph’s journey will take him to some of the region’s most charming cities. You’ve probably never heard of most of them, but you’ll certainly remember them once you’ve been.
There’s picturesque Blaye, with its historic citadel that was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or Cognac, home to the brandy that takes its name from the town. Wine lovers will flock to Saint Emilion, a medieval town (also UNESCO designated) devoted almost entirely to the pursuit of good wine and great food.
AmaWaterways has built an exciting itinerary around this famous wine-producing region, and we’re going to take you there – virtually:
A Taste Of Bordeaux with AmaWaterways
Sauternes Wine Tasting
|Pauillac Walking Tour
Medoc Wine Tasting
|Citadel Visit or Blaye Bike Tour to Bourg; Wine Festival|
|Saint Emilion Excursion & Wine Tasting or Saint Emilion Bike Tour
|Chateau de Vayres or Optional Tour to Bergerac
Chateau de Montaigne or Fronsac Wine Tasting
|Day 7||Bordeaux||Bordeaux City Tour or Optional Tour to Cognac|
Ralph’s report is now live at AmaWaterways Bordeaux, A Review & Tips For Making The Most Of Your Time On AmaDolce
The Revitalization of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a special city. When the suburbs are all put together to create metropolitan Bordeaux, the city becomes the sixth largest municipality in France. Thanks to its location in the southwestern quadrant of the country (Bilbao, Spain is only three hours away by car), Bordeaux remains temperate year-round.
You might be surprised, however, to learn that Bordeaux hasn’t always been the gorgeous tourist mecca that it is today. As recently as the mid-1990s, the mostly industrial city was in shambles after years of neglect. Its historic buildings were covered in soot and grime, and dull, unsightly factories cluttered the landscape. Public trams didn’t exist. The riverfront promenade that now borders the Garonne River didn’t exist.
Enter Bordeaux’s mayor, Alain Juppé. Juppé felt that Bordeaux could be returned to its former glory without sacrificing its important industrial roots and bring in tourists at the same time. In order to make Bordeaux a world-class city, he ordered the buildings cleaned and restored, the riverfront promenade built, and the unsightly warehouses removed from the city’s inner core. A brand-new tram line was installed, snaking through the now-revitalized city.
The result was dramatic: Underneath the grime and neglect lay a city that was every bit as beautiful as Paris and as alluring as its southern counterparts on the Cote d’Azur. Juppé would go on to serve as Prime Minister of France, and was re-elected as Mayor of Bordeaux in 2006, a position he has retained for a decade.
Wine Immersion Cruises
Famed for its wine production, the Bordeaux wine region includes dozens of different appellations – legally defined geographical areas of wine production – within a very small slice of France. Because of that, Bordeaux river cruises don’t involve massive sailing distances, and you can expect to find your ship docked during most evenings.
However, there’s more than enough to do here, with most river cruise lines choosing to offer full-blown wine immersion excursions ashore. What’s more, most of the wines that guests sample are made for French consumption; very few are actually ever exported.
Because of that, you can expect long excursions ashore, free-flowing wines, tastings, informative sessions, and exposure to all you could ever want to know about the grape. You’ll learn about appellations, Grand Cru’s, white wines, red wines, rose wines, dessert wines – you name it. This is as immersive as it gets.
Who Offers Bordeaux River Cruises?
AmaWaterways isn’t the only river cruise company offering Bordeaux river cruises. In fact, many contemporary and luxury river cruise lines offer sailings here on a nearly year-round basis.
Strasbourg-based CroisiEurope offers six different itineraries in the Bordeaux region, ranging in length from five to eight days. All cruises operate roundtrip from Bordeaux, and take place on one of two vessels: the 174-guest Cyrano de Bergerac or the slightly-smaller, 138-guest Princesse d’Aquitaine.
Scenic offers two separate itineraries that operate roundtrip from Bordeaux: the 8-day Bordeaux Affair, and the more in-depth Beautiful Bordeaux, which spans 10 days and includes calls and tours to Bordeaux, Cadillac, Saint Emilion, Libourne, Blaye, Cognac, Pauilac and Medoc. The Beautiful Bordeaux itinerary operates in 2016 and 2017, while the new Bordeaux Affair route launches in 2017. Both itineraries sail aboard the Scenic Diamond.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Uniworld has its intimate 132-guest River Royale plying the historic waters of Bordeaux. The line’s eight-day Bordeaux, Vineyards & Chateaux itinerary runs between March and November, and includes port calls on Bordeaux, Cadillac, Pauillac, Blaye, and Libourne (for Saint Emilion).
Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises places its pretty Viking Longship Forseti on an eight-day voyage departing roundtrip from Bordeaux, France. We had the opportunity to cover Viking’s Chateaux, Rivers & Wine voyage a few years ago, which you can read by clicking here. A true wine immersion cruise, this Chateaux, Rivers & Wine itinerary operates yearly between March and December, with special Christmas and New Years departures featured to round out the season.
Read more about Bordeaux River Cruises.