Bordeaux vineyards chateaux Dordogne Garonne rivers France
Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

Day 1: Bordeaux (Embark)

Arrive at Bordeaux-Mérignac International Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.

Day 2: Blaye, Bourg sur Gironde

Bourg sur Gironde walking tour

Scenic drive along the 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.

“Let’s Go” yoga in the historic heart of Blaye Fortress

Join your wellbeing coach for a unique yoga session in the Blaye Citadel, designed in the 17th century by a renowned military architect to protect Bordeaux from attacks by sea. Calm your mind as you take in panoramic views of the Gironde Estuary and the remnants of the medieval castle. Become aware of your surroundings as you steady your breathing. You’ll then practice postures, or asanas, before enjoying a period of relaxation to end your session.

Rendez-vous chez Rémy Martin

Not all wine remains wine: Some of it is distilled into cognac. At one time, wine from the Charente region was notoriously poor and did not keep or ship well—but double-distillation worked magic on it, transforming it into marvelous liquor. Rémy Martin has been making cognac for almost three centuries, refining the process over the years; late in the 19th century Paul Emile Rémy Martin, a fifth-generation cognac maker, began aging his brandy in oak barrels for years—or decades—much longer than was customary at the time. Today Rémy Martin uses fine Champagne to produce its fine cognac, blending a variety of eaux de vie and aging them in oak barrels that might be 200 years old. (Remy Martin’s legendary—and legendarily expensive— Louis XIII cognac has been called “One Century in a Bottle” precisely because of that extraordinary aging process.) Tour the facility and learn how this elixir is created, then taste three different cognacs with complementary nibbles.

Day 3: Cussac Fort Médoc, Pauillac la Fayette

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 estates for a private tour and a tasting of premier Grand Cru wines—but you won’t know which one of these exceptional châteaux is your destination until you open your invitation.

Bunker archaeology tour

“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 in Pauillac and wheel out of town, pedaling 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.

Day 4: Bordeaux, Cadillac, Libourne

Sauternes Vineyard with private artisanal wine tasting at Château de Cazeneuve

It’s called the noble rot. Botrytis cinerea, a fungus that affects wine grapes, results in a concentrated and distinctive sweet wine that takes its name from the region, Sauternes. Today’s tour is devoted to an exploration of this region and its delectable wine.

You’ll visit one of the area’s finest estates for an intimate wine tasting as special as the wine itself, sampling the unique perfume and flavor of Sauternes. After your tasting, you’ll journey to Château 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. 

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. After, you’ll be treated to an absinthe tasting at Café les Pèlerins.

Day 5: Libourne

A full day in Libourne means you’ll have plenty of time to explore the majestic landscape of villages and vineyards. Nestled along the confluence of the Isle and Dordogne rivers, the quaint town is as pretty as a postcard. On the outskirts of Libourne, you’ll find neighboring Saint-Émilion. Discover the wine-making town by foot on a tour of its most picturesque sights, such as the magnificent Monolithic Church, all capped by a wine tasting at a beautiful château.

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 premier Grand Cru estate where you’ll taste some of the world’s most highly rated wines.

Cooking class at Château Ambe Tour Pourret

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Easy:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $144 pre-purchase / €126 EUR onboard

Château Ambe Tour Pourret, with five hectares planted with merlot and cabernet franc vines, is a comparatively young wine house, dating to 1925 in its current form (though parts of the château are much older). Tour the winery before you meet your chef/teacher, then walk to the well-equipped, modern professional kitchen. Tie on your apron and delve into the tasks the chef assigns you. You might zest kaffir limes to season a first course of seared duck foie gras or make the cherry sauce in kirsch that accompanies it, or help to prepare wild trout or a decadent strawberry tart. You’ll learn something about the art of French sauces in the process, and then you’ll take a seat in the elegant dining room and enjoy the lunch you’ve helped prepare—naturally, each course will be accompanied by the appropriate wine from Château Ambe Tour Pourret’s cellars.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if the booking window is missed, guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 6: Libourne, Bordeaux

The French insist that the key to their superb wines is the soil in which they’re grown, the terroir. That same terroir also makes for extraordinary produce—the foundation for the country’s acclaimed cuisine—as you’ll discover today at a local farmers’ market.

Libourne “Village Day” 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.

Bordeaux open deck bus

It’s sometimes called the Port of the Moon, so what could be more appropriate—or magical—than to see Bordeaux under the moon and stars? Step aboard an open-top bus for a view of this extraordinarily beautiful city at night. Bordeaux has more protected buildings than any other French city but Paris, and your tour will show you just how lovely they are at night, each one masterfully lighted. The reflection of the Bourse glimmers on the wide, shallow pool before it; each lighted arch of the Pont de Pierre is mirrored on the water. The only thing that could make it better is champagne—and you’ll get that too! This is a wonderful, unexpected way to experience Bordeaux’s beauties after dark.

Note: On summer sailings, this tour takes place at twilight rather than full dark because sunset is so late.

Bordeaux night stroll

Day 7: Bordeaux

There’s so much to discover with a full day in Bordeaux’ port of Quai des Chatrons. The architecture is impressive, the wine is exquisite and the shopping is to die for. Explore La Cité du Vin, a one-of-a-kind cultural center and museum that brings the heritage of wine to life through interactive exhibits, shows, academic seminars and more. Do as the locals do and uncover Bordeaux’ unique heritage on a walking tour or choose to traverse the city by bike. Celebrate the end to a spectacular trip with a farewell dinner onboard.

Cité du Vin Museum visit

“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’ bakers, as well as cheeses and chocolates—learn a few recipes, too! You’ll also visit one of the city’s wine bars and see first-hand how the wines of the many local châteaux are enjoyed by today’s sophisticated clients.

”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.

Bordeaux walking tour with caviar tasting

Day 8: Bordeaux (Disembark)

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Bordeaux-Mérignac International Airport for your flight home. Or transfer by TGV to Paris for the Ultimate France or A Portrait of Majestic France itineraries.

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