• Laura Avital

Cruising Bordeaux: Days of Wine & Châteaux


A Bordeaux river cruise pairs wines of the region with their historic château setting. As you sail along the rivers of Bordeaux, a highlight will be your stops at many chateâux for wine tastings.


Your cruise will take you to a different region each day, and as you cruise through the area, you will discover if you are a “left-banker” or a “right-banker.” If you think you already know, you may be surprised!



First, some background on how to arrive in Bordeaux and the geography of the region...

You’ll find Bordeaux in the southwestern corner of France, near the Atlantic Ocean. To get there, you can fly into the international airport, Bordeaux-Mérignac from many European cities, including London, Paris, and Barcelona. Or, you may opt to experience the TGV, a high-speed train that whisks you from Paris Montparnasse rail station into the center of Bordeaux in about 3 hours.


While the entire region is often referred to as “Bordeaux,” the city of Bordeaux sits in the middle of the area, where the Garonne and Dordogne rivers merge to form the Gironde Estuary. The riverbanks are named the left bank (west) and the right bank (east).


Your cruise will start and end in Bordeaux and take you to the areas of Cadillac, Pauillac, Blaye, Bourg, Libourne, and St. Émilion.


Since French wine is labeled by its originating region/appellation, instead of the grape variety, it’s important to note that your river cruise will take you thru two distinct wine-producing areas, the left bank and the right bank.



Left Bank

On the left bank, Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant red grape variety. You’ll generally find blends to be 60-65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25-30% Merlot. You may also discover a small percent of Petit Verdot or Cabernet Franc.

Here you will find the wine regions of Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Graves, Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac, St. Estephe and Pessac-Léognan.

The tannins of the wine produced are noticeable but unobtrusive. The aroma is a pronounced black currant, with green peppercorn notes.

The land on the left bank is gravelly and flat, offering excellent drainage and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.


Right Bank

Merlot is the dominant red grape variety found on the right bank. The wine produced consists of smoother tannins and more red fruit notes.

The right bank features the appellations of St. Émilion, Pomerol, and Fronsac and Cabernet Franc is the second most important variety of the right bank.

Wines from the right bank are generally ready to drink sooner than the left bank’s wines. The right bank’s soil contains clay, silt, sand, and limestone.


It’s not all wine…

St. Émilion One of your favorite stops during your Bordeaux river cruise is sure to be the medieval city of St. Émilion. The village is named after a monk named Émilion and is located on the Right Bank of the Dordogne River. While you are exploring the village, don’t miss a stop at the Monolithic Church, gaze at its 68m bell tower and explore the monk’s cave. You’ll surely work up an appetite, so be sure to stop for an original almond-flavored Macaron de Saint-Émilion at one of the local pastry shops.


Château de Amboise The regal palace of Château de Amboise is set amongst beautiful gardens and is located in the Loire Valley of France. King Henry II of France and Catherine de’Medici raised their family at this château. Look for the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci in the chapel of Saint-Hubert, located on the grounds.

Bordeaux Since your river cruise begins and ends in Bordeaux, be sure to take time to explore the many sites, cafés and wine bars. Highlights will include panoramic views, expansive public gardens and cultural centers. The Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas, a bridge that spans the Garonne River in Bordeaux, is the longest vertical-lift bridge in Europe (as of 2013). While you are in Bordeaux, watch to see how the bridge stays parallel as it lifts for passing ships.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about what you will experience on a Bordeaux River Cruise. But this is only a taste of what you’ll get. Schedule a free consultation by CLICKING HERE and find out how we can work together to personalize your journey!


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