Three UNESCO World Heritage sites. Five famous wine-growing areas. One amazing part of France. Aquitaine’s riverside vineyard regions have so much to offer and you don’t have to be a wine buff to appreciate their rich and complex flavours. Sail along the historic waterways on board MS Bordeaux, mooring up at ancient Loupiac and bustling Bordeaux, claret country Lamarque and rocky Bourg-sur-Gironde to enjoy a delicious collection of day rides. Along the way you’ll get a taste of all those magnificent Bordeaux wine-growing areas – Sauternes, Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers; Côtes de Bordeaux and Saint Emilion – and encounter châteaux, catacombs and fortified ‘bastide’ villages by the score, as well as Aquitaine’s cultural capital, Bordeaux. Whether you’ve a thirst for history, a palate that appreciates fine wines or just want to sample some flavoursome, take-it-or-leave-it scenic cycling near the Dordogne, Gironde and Garonne rivers, this is a fab tour for you.
On board the riverboat MS Bordeaux in an outside-facing 2 bed cabin with private facilities and air-conditioning .
A selection of day rides from the MS Bordeaux moored at different points on Aquitaine’s waterways take you right into the heart of Bordeaux classic wine-growing areas. Pedal out through mainly gentle terrain, along low-traffic roads and lanes, riverside or canal paths, past both classic French Châteaux and fortifications dating from the days of English rule. Routes options offer the occasional longer ride, including the much-acclaimed Roger Lapébie cycle path from Bordeaux. If you fancy a ‘day off’, simply relaxing on board or ‘staying local’ is also possible. Tour highlights include UNESCO World Heritage Sites - Saint-Emilion village and catacombs, Citadel at Blaye, Bordeaux – plus Gustave Eiffel’s bridge at La Réole and Toulouse-Lautrec’s tomb at Verdelais.
Due to navigation conditions, transits to the next destination outlined in the itinerary below may be subject to change at the discretion of the MS Bordeaux Captain.
Day One – Arrive & explore
From early afternoon, climb aboard your riverboat accommodation - the most appropriately named ‘MS Bordeaux’ – moored near the Napoleonic Canal es Deux-Mers at Castets-en-Dorthe. Settle in, meet the crew and maybe get acquainted with your bike on a gentle tour around Castets and its surrounding region of ‘Little Holland’. As well as kiwi orchards and walnut groves, you’ll even discover your first castle, 16th century Château du Hamel, sitting high above the waterway on foundations of a 14th century castle built by Raymond Guilhem de Goth, Pope Clément V’s nephew. In the evening, enjoy a welcome cocktail before supper and your first night on board MS Bordeaux.
Overnight mooring - Castets-en-Dorthe.
Day Two – An introduction to Aquitaine - Entre-Deux-Mers
A delightful mix of cultural history makes for a gentle first cycle ride and an introduction to the Roman and English influences which have made Aquitaine the fascinating wine-growing region it is today. Explore ‘Entre-Deux-Mers’, aka the slopes between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers where Gallo-Romans settled and started to grow vines, now the renowned home of those deliciously fresh, aromatic, dry Bordeaux white wines. En route to La Réole, as you pedal out past corn- and sunflower fields, why not stop off at the walled town of Saint Marcaire and the home of famous 20th century writer, François Mauriac? The suspension bridge at La Réole was designed by another French grand master, Gustave Eiffel, but it predates his mighty Parisian pièce de résistance. Although the town boasts not one, but two castle, plus narrow cobbled medieval streets and the wonderfully preserved Benedictine Abbey church, L’Eglise St Pierre, it’s the town hall that steals the show here. Aquitaine’s history is a complicated mix of English / French rulers, but La Réole proved so loyal to the English crown that Richard the Lionheart wanted to reward the locals as he passed through en route to the Holy Land in 1190. His gift was the town hall, still standing today and now the oldest in France. Ah, a little bit of England to feast the eyes upon, before Napoleon’s Canal de la Garonne leads you directly back to MS Bordeaux at Castets-en-Dorthe... unless, of course you fancy a few extra miles to take in the superb views from hilltop village, Meilhan-sur-Garonne before the riverboat sails along the River Garonne to Loupiac?
Overnight mooring - Loupiac.
Miles 7-31 Kms 11-50
Day Three – Sauternes, Graves & memorials
Fine, sweet Sauternes wines owe much to the River Ciron, so best keep that in mind as you find yourself negotiating the week’s only really significant slope on just your second main day of cycling. Of course there’s plenty to explore around Loupiac itself, home to two châteaux and Gallo-Roman remains, but take to the Sémillion-lined slopes and the discoveries around the wine châteaux and village of Sauternes are sure to be sweet and worth that extra effort. The clue’s in the name at first stop Sainte-Croix du Mont, but the rewards soon come in the superb river views. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, the iconic French painter, has his final resting place at Verdelais and then the famous vineyard estates start to line the route around Sauternes, including Château d’Yquem, Clos Haut-Peyraguey and Château de Malle. High-light of the day though has to be the bastide village and birthplace of Bordeaux wines awaits – Cadillac in the region of Graves / wine region Entre-Deux-Mers. Explore its little streets and medieval fortified walls, its market place and café terraces. Surely there’s time for a well-deserved sip or two, before the final miles back to MS Bordeaux and its early evening cruise along the Garonne to the bright lights and impressive panoramas of Bordeaux?
Overnight mooring - Bordeaux.
Miles 24-30 Kms 39-48
Day Four – Beautiful Bordeaux or enticing Entre-Deux-Mers?
Capital of Aquitaine and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bordeaux is bursting with impressive squares and imposing buildings. What’s more there are fantastic museums, Gallo-Roman sites and it’s crowned with the gloriously Gothic St André Cathedral renowned for its unbelievably orate flying buttresses. This is a great city to explore either by bike or on foot. Head for the ‘Golden Triangle’; admire the Napoleonic Pont de Pierre, look up at PeyBerlan bell tower or reflect a while by the ‘water mirror’ in the Place de la Bourse; sample the wine bar in the prestigious ‘Maison du Vin’ (Bordeaux Wines HQ!) or pedal off to pastures ‘new’ to discover the modern architectural wonder and fine new generation museum, ‘Cité du Vin’, or the tree-filled ‘Darwin-Ecosystem’ recently established in restored quayside buildings. Whether you choose to indulge in a day of full-blown culture, a spot of shopping or a large plate of fresh seafood with a glass of crisp Entre-dux-Mers by its side, vibrant Bordeaux is sure to go down a treat.
Alternatively, spend the day in the saddle, pedalling out in search of those delicious dry white wines in their place of origin. Follow the river path from the city centre to Latresne to take the Roger Lapébie cycle path to Creon and La Sauve. Beyond Bordeaux, it follows a disused railway line, edging its way into the Entre-Deux-Mers wine region, before looping back to the Big City and MS Bordeaux moored on the Bordeaux quayside.
Overnight mooring - Bordeaux
Miles 7-29 Kms 11-47
Day Five – Rubbing shoulders with the Rothschilds - Margaux & Médoc
Wave goodbye to beautiful Bordeaux over breakfast, as the riverboat MS Bordeaux sails along the to Larmarque on the bank of the Gironde and a day in one of the most famous regions of the wine world. Follow vineyard roads through the Médoc which serves up warmer-blooded wines (drink at 19°C!) with some of the Bordeaux region’s most powerful flavours. Pedal off past windmills on a star-studded wine-route, where Châteaux like Lamothe Bergeron lay on a most colourful spectacle for visitors to their famous cellars with really informative video presentations and lighting effects to celebrate their wine-growing heritage. Maucaillou, Poujeaux, Palmer, Prieuré Lichine – so many line the route, crescendo-ing to grand master of the ‘Grand Cru’, Château Margaux. Pedal onwards perhaps to the region of Pauillac and Saint-Espèphe and you’ll touch upon other Médoc heavy-weights including Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour. The turreted Châteaux alone are the stuff of fairy-tales, but oh, the wines..! Back on board at Lamarque, the evening sees a cruise over dinner to the other bank of the Garonne – to the rocky promontory of Bourg-sur-Gironde.
Overnight mooring - Bourg-sur-Gironde.
Miles 27-34 Kms 43-56
Day Six – Fine wines & fortresses - Côtes de Bourg
The joy of Côtes de Bourg vineyards has to be the sheer variety of the wines they produce - their personality varies with the soil and from estate to estate. Every good reason to tour on two wheels and stop off to savour the flavours of place. Choose from eminent Châteaux - Monconseil Gazin, Marquis de Vaubanaud, Eyquem and enjoy a delightful helping of manor houses and magnificent gardens along the Gironde Corniche route. Blaye’s impressive Vauban citadel fortress, commissioned by Louis XIV is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover its history along long, underground passageways. Ups and downs are the order of the day in this hillier part Bordeaux’s wine country, but there are plenty of refreshing places to stop (including historic wash houses!) and at Plassac, don’t miss the fine example of a Gallo-Roman villa. In the evening MS Bordeaux sails along the Dordogne to its final mooring at Libourne/ Fronsac.
Overnight Libourne / Fronsac.
Miles 12-22 Kms 19-35
Day Seven – The best of Bordeaux? - Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Fronsac
Here’s a gentle day in the saddle that’s bound to leave a satisfying taste in the mouth! Set off to explore the bastide town of Libourne and the world-famous region where Merlot is king and Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon come along for the ride. Little back roads lead past ‘caves’ and famous classified ‘Châteaux’, beside vineyards which over the centuries have produced wines favoured by pilgrims (Pomerol, created by the Knights Hospitalier for travellers to Santiago de Compostela), by the Court of Versailles (Fronsac) and prized across the world (St Emilion) . Stop off to admire the bells at ‘Angelus’ or tour the oak barrels, underground chapel and granary at Manoir Galhaud, home to delicious Grands Cru, Grands Vins and Crémant. Superbly famous ‘appellation’, Saint Emilion, needs no introduction but the fortified village itself is a star too - a UNESCO Word Heritage Site built on limestone catacombs. Check out the King’s Keep and don’t’ miss the monolithic church with its deep caverns and high bell tower. Scale its 196 steps - the views have to be worth it! Back on the riverboat, there’s one last dinner time to share all the day’s discoveries over a glass or two before your final night on board MS Bordeaux.
Overnigth Libourne/ Fronsac.
Miles 13-27 Kms 21- 43
Day Eight - Depart after breakfast
Depart MS Bordeaux moored at Libourne/ Fronsac after breakfast. (Libourne is on a direct train route to Bordeaux.)
Extra nights can be booked in Bordeaux before or after the bike and boat tour to allow more time to enjoy the galleries, museums and sights of this vibrant cultural city.
Once you have decided on the ideal Cycle Break in England or Europe, please fill out your details on our booking formProceed to Book
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