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Bordeaux river cruise


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We are considering a river cruise in the Bordeaux region of France. We've never been to that corner of the world. However,  my concern is a possible over focus on wine. I enjoy a glass occasionally, but we are not wine freaks. I don't want a cruise that focuses on wine tastings at every stop. Would I be better looking at a different European River? [We have previously done Danube twice and the Rhine] Or are there plenty of castles, and history and cobblestone street villages to keep me happy? Will I have to listen to other people non-stop gibbering about their last wine tasting all week long?

 

So the question: is a river cruise on the Garonne River Bordeaux region of France, good for people who don't particularly crave wine?

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Please be aware that the river is subject to low water.  My river cruise on AMA, through no fault of their own spent 5 nights out of 7 in Bordeaux because they could not get into the ports due to water levels.  We got as close as we could and then motorcoached.  We basically went out cruising and came back at night after going to where we were supposed to.  I could have actually stayed at a hotel for the week for less money and did day trips.  It is a very small, manageable area on your own.

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It is easily accessible on your own. We did an overnight stop with Silversea 10 years ago, and rented a car for the two half-days we were there for DIY exploring. The first afternoon we went to St-Émilion and explored the town. The next morning we went to Sauternes for some morning wine tasting.

 

I'd go back again for sure, and maybe spend some time in Bordeaux proper. I've heard it's a relatively short train ride form Paris these days so you can fly in/out of Paris to get there.

 

Friends of ours had a similar experience with their "cruise" in Bordeaux due to unfavorable water levels.

Edited by jpalbny
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Possibly completely off topic, but we used a wonderful company, France Just for You (a small family owned business in France), that arranged a land trip for us from Paris to Provence.  We were on our own once there, but all the accommodations, a few daily guides, car rental, train tickets, etc, were all done by them.  I can't speak highly enough of their choices and service.  We were supposed to use them for Normandy this past summer.  If the idea of making those plans yourself puts you off, consider something like that instead.

 

ETA - on our own without a daily guide, but the owners were definitely reachable if we needed them.

Edited by ljandgb
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Have you looked at the Douro?  We have also done the rivers you mentioned twice and also the Douro.  Loved the Douro and even though several stops will feature wine or Port, there are many other options and it is a beautiful river.  One thing we loved was that the ships are not allowed to travel at night, so going from port to port was during the day, which gave us an option of enjoying the beautiful scenery.  Our last trip on the Douro started in Madrid (hotel) and ended in Lisbon.  The first was Lisbon to Lisbon.  We enjoyed the second cruise more because we saw more.

From what I am reading about the Bordeaux sailings, many have spent more time on busses due to low water.  I would hate to spend what the cruises cost and travel each day back and forth on a bus.

 

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I did the Uniworld Bordeaux river cruise last year and really enjoyed it even though I too am not that into wine (I enjoy a glass or two with dinner but don't know much about it and don't really care to). I think the whole trip I only ended up going on one or two really wine-focused excursions - and even those were interesting to learn more about wine, meet the people who owned the vineyards and see the amazing chateaus where it's produced. At least on Uniworld, there were tons of other options including the expected castles, forts, quaint old towns etc. A major highlight at least for me was a tour of World War II bunkers on the coast that was led by a local gentleman whose father actually built them and he's now taken it upon himself to look after them.

 

The one thing to keep in mind, though, is that given the geography you end up travelling the same parts of the same rivers multiple time since you need to backtrack a couple of times. There was still great scenery as you sail past but I felt I knew certain parts of the river as well as the captain by the end of the trip!

 

One other suggestion - assuming you leave from Bordeaux, that is a quick and easy TGV trip from Paris - so it's super-easy to add a couple days on there on your own.

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I did the Viking Bordeaux cruise a few years ago.  My wife is into wines.  I'm not.  However, I can say we had a great time. 

If you like to cruise France, do the Lyon to Avignon itinerary.  We took a train and stayed in Nice for 5 nights after. Did a number of day trips to surrounding towns including Monte Carlo.  Just a great time.

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