Bordeaux, Vineyards & Châteaux
Set sail on the Garonne for the pretty town of Pauillac, gateway to the storied Médoc wine route, where you’ll begin a panoramic tour of the heart of the Haut-Médoc AOC (or appellation d’origine contrôlée, a geographical designation that denotes where grapes are grown). Enjoy an exclusive visit to a celebrated winery, Châteaux d’Arsac, where you’ll discover your personal “wine sign” with a special blind tasting. Or experience the terroir in an entirely different way: with a guided bike ride through the beautiful Médoc vineyards. You’ll get an up-close look at the vines and truly take in the atmosphere—the earth, the sunshine—of this famous wine-growing region. In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner. (BB, L, WD)
Today you’ll sail across the Gironde Estuary to Blaye. The scenic journey through the estuary offers a unique look at the delta, where fishing huts rise above grassy marshlands edged by limestone cliffs. Running along those cliffs is a little road called the Route de la Corniche Fleurie. The road winds through the picturesque hamlets of Pain de Sucre, Marmisson, and Roque de Thau, where you’ll find charming stone houses built by 19th-century ship captains. Upon returning to Blaye, your guide will take you through the 17th-century citadel built by famed military engineer Vauban. Its fortress and tunnels are a UNESCO monument. Then enjoy some free time to explore the town on your own. Or take part in a guided Nordic walking tour of Blaye Fortress. (BB, L, D)
Bergerac, which is located in the southernmost part of the Périgord and boasts 12 AOCs, and is your jumping-off point for today’s adventure. On your walking tour of the town you’ll explore the popular farmers’ market, hear the fateful story of Cyrano de Bergerac and his Roxanne, and watch the flat-bottom boats glide along the river. Stop at the 16th-century Château de Monbazillac, which offers marvelous views overlooking Bergerac and the Dordogne River. The drive along the Dordogne is an especially scenic one, and you’ll cross bridges to explore charming Bastide villages on both sides of the river.
The “gastronomic meal of the French” is so indelibly linked to the country’s identity that it was added to UNESCO’s list of “intangible cultural heritage”in 2010, and tonight you will discover why during an extra special dinner. World-famous French Master Chef Philippe Etchebest has loaned his gastronomic genius to River Royale’s culinary team. His interpretation of the region’s delicacies will inform a specially crafted onboard dinner menu for Uniworld guests only. Bon appétit! (BB, L, D)
Saint-Émilion offers exceptional historic architecture, and historic vineyards too. The Romans were the first to plant grapes here, and this was the first vineyard region to be protected by UNESCO. The town, built atop limestone hills, offers many interesting shops, but what makes it extraordinary is what exists below the cobbled streets—Saint-Émilion’s Monolithic Church which dates back to the 12th century. After touring Saint-Émilion, you’ll visit the cellars of a Premier Grand Cru estate where you’ll taste some of the world’s most highly rated wines. Once you’re back in Bordeaux, you will enjoy an evening tour. Bordeaux under the stars—what could be more magical? After Paris, Bordeaux has more protected buildings than any other French city. From the alleyways of the Saint-Pierre district to the avenues of the Place des Quinconces, you’ll see why Queen Elizabeth II deemed Bordeaux“the essence of elegance.” (BB, L, D)
During a tour to nearby Cadillac you’ll embark on a study of Sauternes, the sweet wine which is named for the region. Sauternes is made from grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, a fungus that causes a raisin-like decay, resulting in a concentrated and distinctly flavored sweet wine. You’ll meet the winemakers and enjoy an elegant wine-pairing lunch at Château d’Arche. You’ll also see the grounds of legendary Château d’Yquem. In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner. (BB, L, FD)
See Bordeaux à pied on a fascinating walking tour of the Golden Triangle, where you’ll encounter the very best the city has to offer. Explore luxury food halls, sample Bordeaux’s famous canelés and chocolates, discover marvelous 18th-century architecture, and visit an elegant wine bar popular with locals. If you’re looking for something more active, consider joining a guided bicycle ride along the scenic banks of the Garonne River. You’ll have plenty of free time to further enjoy Bordeaux on your own. Revisit some of the places you saw on your tour or explore new areas. It’s a great chance to do a little shopping too. (BB, L, D)
Note: Order of sightseeing may change throughout the itinerary. Substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to water levels or other uncontrollable factors.