A relaxing cruise through Europe’s most famous wine regions
What better way to start your cruise than with time strolling the sandy beaches and delightful ocean promenade of Biarritz. Travel on the pretty La Rhune Mountain railway as it winds its way through the Pyrenees to rise above the low clouds in the dramatic rocky mountains.
Then swap the sea for the Garonne and Dordogne, two of France's most scenic rivers, as you enjoy a relaxing cruise through one of Europe's most famous wine regions.
Meet your group and Tour Manager at our dedicated Departure Office at St Pancras International ahead of your journey to Paris on the Eurostar. Once in Paris we join the TGV service right through to Biarritz, checking into the 4-Star Mercure Biarritz Centre Plaza Hotel on our arrival.
Your full first day in Biarritz is free to begin exploring. The resort, with its sweeping promenade and vast beaches, offers a range of activities for you to enjoy. You might like to try your luck in the casino, or visit the town's lighthouse. If you're feeling energetic, you could perhaps take a stroll past the atmospheric Old Port to Rocher de la Vierge, a statue on a rocky headland said to protect the safe return of local fishermen, now connected to the town by a footbridge.
On today's excursion we travel by coach to Col de Saint-Ignace, where we connect with the superb Petit Train de la Rhune. This classic rack-and-pinion railway takes us through the dramatic Atlantic Pyrenees in lovingly restored wooden carriages - overcoming a height difference of 2,415 feet during the journey. The route takes us through steep-sided rocky valleys, with a fabulous panorama over the rolling meadows and impressive foothills of the nearby Basque region. Before long we arrive at the summit of La Rhune, which not only marks the border between France and Spain, but at 3,000 feet also offers a magnificent panorama over the Bay of Biscay. After time to admire the views, we descend the mountain then continue by coach to the lively fishing port of St Jeande- Luz.
Here you have a little time to explore; perhaps take a stroll along the promenade, and watch the charming fishing boats bring their catch back to the sheltered harbour. Otherwise, the medieval centre is a delight to wander around. We enjoy a three-course lunch with wine in a local restaurant before returning to Biarritz.
Following breakfast in the hotel, we make our way back to the railway station in time for our train to Bordeaux - the centre of one of the world's most famous wine regions and set on the banks of the Garonne. Here we transfer to our floating hotel for 6 nights, the 5-star MS Cyrano de Bergerac. After time to settle in, we are greeted with a welcome cocktail. Tonight's dinner is followed by an evening of entertainment on board.
This morning we cruise into the scenic Gironde Estuary, passing the scattering of traditional wooden fishing huts dotted around the attractive inlets, such as Cazeau Island and pretty Patiras Island. After taking in these charming scenes at a relaxed pace, we arrive in Pauillac, a sleepy port whose quayside is lined with grand stone houses. Following lunch on board we visit the renowned Médoc wine region on an included excursion. Here some of the world's most celebrated red wines are cultivated, grown in sloping vineyards overlooking the river.
The excursion follows the famous Châteaux Route, with views of the area's noted stately homes, including the spectacular château of Lafite- Rothschild which is owned by members of this wealthy and famous family since the 1800s. Back on board, this evening we enjoy a dinner of scrumptious French cuisine.
We spend a leisurely morning cruising further into the Gironde Estuary, passing the atmospheric marshlands and ancient Troglodyte dwellings that feature prominently around this stretch of the river. We also pass through Meschers-sur-Gironde, characterised by its brooding cliffs overlooking the river.
In the afternoon we arrive in Blaye, the starting point for an afternoon of possible excursions. Your first option is a trip along the Route de la Corniche, for a closer look at the idyllic and time-honoured landscapes that have been so well preserved here.
The journey passes along the superb, narrow cliff-top road overlooking the Dordogne. Flanked by lush vineyards, we'll enjoy some time to look around the idyllic walled village of Bourg - where rustic cottages are stacked almost on top of each other high on the hillsides. On our way back to Blaye, we make a short stop at the town's imposing citadel. Constructed in the late 17th century, the majestic fortress is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and affords a magnificent panorama over the river and estuary.
Afterwards we enjoy a tasting of local specialties, all washed down with a glass of regional wine.
Early this morning we leave Blaye and continue our cruise, navigating the Gironde and joining the peaceful Dordogne River on our way to the attractive wine town of Libourne. Disembarking, we travel to St Emilion for a guided tour of this UNESCO listed city before visiting the Troglodyte cave St Emilion stayed in. We'll also see the largest monolithic church in Europe. We then call at a family-run vineyard, where we enjoy a tasting of some popular local wines before returning to Libourne.
Today we arrive in the marvellous walled town of Cadillac, with its rich history dating back to the 13th century. This afternoon we take a tour of Roquetaillade Chateau, a magnificent 12th-century listed monument. This castle is a great example of a medieval fortress that's adapted to changing styles over the centuries. Since its initial design, it has hosted kings, cardinals and other important figures, each one leaving their own indelible mark on the architecture and interiors.
Following a leisurely morning on board, this afternoon we arrive back in Bordeaux, a beautiful city brimming with 18th-century grandeur. With its broad boulevards and quaint Old Town, the UNESCO-protected city boasts an exciting diversity that's palpable in many of its attractions. We embark on a city tour for some deeper insight into Bordeaux's history. Alternatively you are free to explore at leisure. Back on board this evening, we enjoy a gala dinner.
After a final breakfast on board, this morning we disembark the ship and transfer to Bordeaux station. Here we take the train to Paris, where we connect with the Eurostar service back to London St Pancras International.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Optional shore excursions are not included in the price of your tour and are payable on board ship.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
A relaxing cruise through Europe’s most famous wine regions