Cruise Aquitaine’s historic waterways from Libourne to Castets-en-Dorthe and explore five of France’s top wine-growing areas by bike in just a week. Cycle through Claret Country and Côtes de Bordeaux. Freewheel down St Emilion slopes or delve into the wine-growing history of Entre-Deux-Mers. Stop off at a Sauternes Château or two and sit and sip the rich sweetness of south-west France. With riverboat MS Bordeaux as your floating accommodation, you can enjoy a deliciously different Aquitaine cycle tour every day as you cruise along the Dordogne, Gironde and Garonne rivers. Discover ‘caves’ and catacombs, ‘bastides’ and bridges, country ‘Châteaux’ homes of prestigious wines and the mega-modern wine and culture museum in bustling Bordeaux. A tour that‘s irresistible for wine buffs and brim-full of interest all round too. Just bring a thirst for some superb scenic cycling!
is on board the riverboat MS Bordeaux in an outside-facing 2 bed cabin with private facilities and air-conditioning situated on the lower deck. The barge has 39 cabins and can accommodate up to 80 guests. Full details about MS Bordeaux including layout plans are available here. We are pleased to discuss details on request.
Cruising the Bordeaux wine regions by boat and stopping off to cycle is a fantastic way to encounter the many colours of France’s historic south-west region of Aquitaine and explore its capital, Bordeaux. 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 include the occasional longer ride, like exploring the area around Bordeaux on the much-acclaimed Roger Lapébie cycle path, but if you fancy a ‘day off’ simply relaxing on board or ‘staying local’ is always possible. Highlights include three UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the village and catacombs of Saint-Emilion, the Citadel at Blaye and 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
The 13th century bastide town of Libourne (aka ‘Little Bordeaux’) has to be the perfect riverside spot to start any adventure into this amazing world of wine! Sitting on the confluence of the Isle and Dordogne, its 14th century quayside and smart townhouses dating from 1500 -1800s have seen much wine and wealth over the years – no wonder, when the great vineyards of mighty Saint Emilion are right on their doorstep. Here, your floating accommodation - the aptly named MS Bordeaux – waits to greet you from early afternoon. Meet the crew and maybe get acquainted with your bike on a short cycle ride along the Dordogne. Or head off to explore the covered walkways around Libourne’s ‘Grand Place’ (Place Abel-Surchamp) where there’s sure to be the chance to simply sit back, have a sip of something local and relax on a café terrace. In the evening, enjoy a welcome cocktail before supper and your first night on board MS Bordeaux moored at Libourne.
Overnight mooring - Libourne.
Day Two – A taste of things to come - Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Fronsac
A gentle day in the saddle that’s bound to leave a satisfying taste in the mouth! Set off to explore the world-famous region where Merlot is king with Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon just occasionally coming along for the ride. Little roads lead past plentiful ‘caves’ and famous classified ‘Châteaux’, edging vineyards producing 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. Saint Emilion itself needs no introduction today - a superbly famous ‘appellation’ and fascinating fortified village built on limestone catacombs. Check out the King’s Keep and don’t’ miss the monolithic church – cool off underground and discover all 38 m of this ‘secret’ monument, or climb up its 68m high bell tower. It might have 196 steps, but the vineyard views have to be worth it! Back on board, there’s time to share all the day’s discoveries and a glass or two as MS Bordeaux sails through the early evening along the Dordogne to the small harbour below rocky Bourg-sur-Gironde.
Overnight mooring - Bourg-sur-Gironde.
Miles 13-27 Kms 21- 43
Day Three – Fortresses & Fine Wines - 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 such as Monconseil Gazin, Marquis de Vaubanaud or Eyquem. Take to the Gironde Corniche route for a delightful helping of manor houses on one side and magnificent gardens on the other, and go in search of the history of Blaye’s impressive Vauban fortress, commissioned by Louis XIV, along the underground passages of the citadel. 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, the fine Gallo-Roman villa will surely reveal the roots of this remarkable vineyard area.
Overnight mooring - Bourg-sur-Gironde.
Miles 12-22 Kms 19-35
Day Four – Rubbing shoulders with the Rothschilds - Margaux & Médoc
Wave goodbye to Bourg-sur-Gironde’s rocky promontory over breakfast as MS Bordeaux cruises up the wide estuary to Larmarque on the other bank of the Gironde. Here today’s vineyard roads lead through the Médoc, serving up warmer-blooded wines (drink at 19°C!) with some of the 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. From here, why not pedal on to the region of Pauillac and Saint-Espèphe to touch upon other Médoc heavy-weights including Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour? With their turrets and terraces, fine facades and porticos the Châteaux buildings alone make it the stuff of fairytales - even before you settle down to a tasting! But the city of Bordeaux awaits – and back on board what more appropriate vessel to take you there but MS Bordeaux itself. Sailing along the River Garonne towards the Pont de Pierre, it’s time to rest up, relax and enjoy the panoramas.
Overnight mooring - Bordeaux.
Miles 27-34 Kms 43-56
Day Five – Beautiful Bordeaux or enticing Entre-Deux-Mers?
UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital of Aquitaine, Bordeaux is full to the brim 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 - if you prefer to stick in the saddle for the day and discover those delicious dry white wines ‘sur place’, 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. Whichever option you choose, there’s sure to be plenty of experiences to share back on board MS Bordeaux later as you admire the views on the next cruise to Loupiac.
Overnight mooring - Loupiac.
Miles 7-29 Kms 11-47
Day Six – Memorials, Graves & Sauternes
Today’s circular cycle ride leads from Loupiac through Sémillion-lined slopes, stopping off to make some sweet Sauternes discoveries. There are superb river views to enjoy at first stop Sainte-Croix du Mont, then at Verdelais, you’ll want to pay your respects to that most magical of French painters, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. The fine Sauternes wines owe much to the River Ciron in this area, so keep that in mind as you find yourself negotiating the week’s only really significant slope! Come the warm and dry weather of autumn, as its cool flow meets the warmer waters of the River Garonne, mist drifts across the vineyard slopes to create the perfect conditions for the Sémillion grapes to reach their full sweetness. Famous vineyards line your route as you pass through the village of Sauternes itself, amongst them Château d’Yquem, Clos Haut-Peyraguey and Château Guiraud. But Bastide village and birthplace of Bordeaux wines awaits – Cadillac. With its medieval fortified walls, little streets and market place, it’s a delightful place in the region of Graves / wine region Entre-Deux-Mers to sip back and relax, before the final miles back to MS Bordeaux and its early evening cruise to its final mooring in Castets-en-Dorthe.
Overnight mooring - Castets-en-Dorthe.
Miles 24-30 Kms 39-48
Day Seven – A little bit of England, Entre-Deux-Mers
Pedal out past corn- and sunflower fields today to La Réole and you’ll find plenty of firmly French discoveries en route from the fresh, aromatic dry white Bordeaux flavours of ‘Entre-Deux-Mers (the wine region in between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers) to the walled town of Saint Macaire and home of famous 20th century writer, François Mauriac. And what could be more French than a suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel himself? Pedal over it to cross the Garonne as you reach the mightily impressive hill town of La Réole, once the second largest city after Bordeaux and now home to not one, but two castles; narrow cobbled medieval streets and a wonderfully preserved Benedictine Abbey church – L’Eglise St Pierre. But here it’s a bit of English history which steals the show. Aquitaine’s history is an 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 – a town hall – still stands today, the oldest town hall in France and one that’s somehow a little bit of England too. Finally, a ride alongside the Napoleonic ‘Canal de la Garonne’ leads the way back directly to the boat at Castets-en-Dorthe... although what’s a few extra miles between friends at the end of the day, when there are superb views to be enjoyed from hilltop village, Meilhan-sur-Garonne?
Overnight mooring - Castets-en-Dorthe.
Miles 13-31 Kms 21-50
Day Eight - Depart after breakfast
Depart after breakfast following your final night on board the MS Bordeaux. (10 km taxi ride required from Castets-en-Dorthe to local train station for onward services 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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