The French phrase “la douceur de vivre” is an accurate description for your time in Cadillac, known for its deliciously flavored dessert wines. Visit Château Royal de Cazeneuve, site of Henry IV’s and Queen Margot’s tempestuous love. Meet the owner around a glass of Sauternes in the reception hall.
In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.
Note: Sailing this stretch of the Garonne depends on the tides. If it is not possible to sail to Cadillac, you will be transferred to your destination via motorcoach.
Your excursion choices:
PRIVATE OWNER'S TOUR OF ROYAL CHÂTEAU WITH SAUTERNES TOAST
You’ll journey through the vineyards to Château Royal de Cazeneuve, a polygonal 14th-century fortress with a royal pedigree. A favored residence of Henry IV, who inherited it from his mother, Jeanne d’Albret. The beautifully restored château still belongs to descendants of the Albret family. After your intimate visit you will meet Louis and Caroline de Sabran-Pontevès, the owner and his wife for a Sauternes toast, sampling the unique perfume and flavor of the area.
THE COLORFUL LIFE OF TOULOUSE LAUTREC AT CHÂTEAU DE MALROMÉ
Uncover the history of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec with a visit to Château Malromé. Originally the home of his mother, Adèle, Malromé would soon inspire much of his artwork. As one of the best painters of the post-impressionist period, Toulouse-Lautrec is known for his distinctive and colorful take on Paris in the late 1800s as well as his fascination with Moulin Rouge dancers and famous singers, who were prominent in much of his work. Venture to the nearby town of Verdelais, where you’ll notice two beautiful central walkways lined with trees and 19th-century façades. It is in Verdelais’ cemetery that Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is buried.
Day 3: Cussac Fort Medoc
The legendary Médoc region abounds with prestigious wine châteaux in a dizzying array of architectural styles, as well as miles of grapevines stretching to infinity. Take a scenic drive through the storied Médoc wine route, followed by a wine tasting at a beautiful wine estate.
Your special excursion:
Fresh Médoc Oysters Tasting
Oysters have long been a beloved product of the Médoc—and for good reason. Discover why today as you join an oyster farmer at the Guards’ House terrace for a tasting of this delicacy, accompanied by a glass of local white wine.
Choose between these excursions:
LET’S GO: BIKE IN THE MÉDOC VINEYARDS
Combine fresh air, gorgeous scenery and fine wine with a bicycle ride among the prestigious Médoc vineyards. Meet your guide and mount your bicycle to pedal through the lush landscapes of historic estates that have seemingly remained unchanged for centuries. Truly experience the atmosphere—the earth, the sunshine—of this famous wine-growing region.
MÉDOC CHÂTEAUX ROUTE WITH PRIVATE WINE TASTING
In 1855, when Napoleon III asked for a classification of the best wines in France to give visitors, some 60 Médoc wines were awarded Grand Cru status—out of 61 total. 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, and the road carries you past a dizzying array of architectural styles— Renaissance, Greek Revival and medieval—as well as miles of grapevines. You’ll turn off the road and enter one of these châteaux for a private tour and a tasting of superior wines.
Day 4: Blaye, Bourg Sir Gironde
The Route de la Corniche Fleurie…could this be the most beautiful road you’ve ever traveled? Find out today on the drive to Blaye Fortress, passing through one impossibly picturesque hamlet after another. Once you arrive, you’ll discover the wonders of this historic fortress, a UNESCO-designated citadel that once protected Bordeaux from attacks by sea.
Choose between these excursions:
INTIMATE EXPERIENCE WITH LOCAL WINE & ART CONNOISSEURS
Today you are invited to join an informal wine tasting hosted by the owner of La Petite Cave, a charming wine bar in Blaye. The owner here will give you a personal look into the life of a local wine lover, take you into his art studio, and show you his collections of wine and antique cars. From here, you’re welcome to explore Blaye at your leisure before returning to the ship.
PANORAMAS OF ROUTE DE LA CORNICHE FLEURIE WITH BLAYE FORTRESS
This little 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.
Upon returning to Blaye, 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, 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.
Day 5: Libourne, Saint-Emilion
With Libourne as your base, travel to nearby breathtaking Saint-Émilion and immerse yourself more deeply in the region’s history and wine culture. The medieval town of Saint-Émilion is an ideal place to linger. 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.
Note: Today's lunch will be on your own; ask your Cruise Manager for recommendations on the best nearby restaurants.
SAINT-ÉMILION WALKING TOUR WITH WINE TASTING
Hilltop Saint-Émilion offers both exceptional architecture and historic vineyards. The Romans were the first to plant grapes here, and this was the first vineyard region to be protected by UNESCO because of its history. Shops brimming with wine and wine tools line the steep cobblestone streets; medieval ramparts that bore witness to battles for control between French and English monarchs still stand; and vineyards encroach upon the village. Of all the sights, however, perhaps the most extraordinary is the 12th-century church carved into a cliff. Only the tower is above ground; the rest of the church is subterranean. Its numerous underground galleries provided refuge during periods of strife, and include the grotto where St. Émilion, for whom the town is named, lived out his life in the ninth century. You have to see it for yourself—you’ll be amazed by its almost unfathomable construction. After touring Saint-Émilion, you’ll visit the cellars of a fantastic estate where you’ll taste some of the world’s most highly rated wines.
Day 6: Libourne
France’s rich agricultural tradition is the heart and soul of the region’s exquisite cuisine—and what better way to get a taste for the freshest vegetables, cheeses, breads and fruits than with a visit to Libourne’s lively farmers’ market?
In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.
VILLAGE DAY: LIBOURNE WITH FARMER'S MARKET
How could you visit this rich agricultural land without delving into a farmer's market? Libourne’s market is the heart and soul of the town; everyone comes here to choose the freshest vegetables, the ripest cheeses, the most luscious fruits, the loveliest flowers, and to chat with the producers and growers. Check out the stalls brimming with produce in the market square, then duck into the covered market and savor the enticing aromas of bread and cheese, fish and meat. After exploring the market, you and a small group of other travelers will be invited to push open the doors of ateliers, homes and shops, meeting the artisans who make some of the goods arrayed so enticingly in the market.
NIGHTS OUT: AFTER HOURS AT THE BASSINS DES LUMIÈRES
Bordeaux’s Port de la Lune is home to a submarine base with a checkered past. Originally built during the German occupation of France in WWII, and later the target of allied bombings, this building has since attracted artists who wish to reclaim the site for beauty and culture. Its stark walls and history have served as a poignant backdrop to artistic installations for decades. Tonight, you’ll experience this for yourself at the Bassins des Lumières, a stunning and immersive light show projected against the walls of the base.
Day 7: Bordeaux
Discover Bordeaux’s many charms today, either on foot with a local expert or on two wheels—the locals’ preferred way to navigate the city’s charming backstreets. You have a wonderful selection of active opportunities to see this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Choose between today's excursions:
LET’S GO: BIKE BORDEAUX BACKSTREETS
Hop on a bike and wheel with your expert guide along the Quai des Chartrons, a riverfront neighborhood that was the purview of British wine merchants back when they dominated the wine trade. It fell on hard times in the 20th century, but the tall merchant houses have since been reclaimed; now they house welcoming shops and cafés. Pedal past the antiques shops of Rue Notre Dame and the Church of St. Louis on your way to major city squares such as the Bourse and Parliament before heading back to the ship along the banks of the Garonne. Of course your outing will include a stop for refreshments at one of the delightful cafés you pass.
DO AS THE LOCALS DO: BORDEAUX WALKING TOUR
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’ culinary heritage when banished Spanish Jews brought the art of chocolate-making to France. What are Bordeaux’ 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, and learn a few recipes too!
Day 8: Bordeaux - Disembark
You will be transferred by Uniworld to your flight!