The Bordeaux wine region in Southwest France is a perfect pairing for river cruising, wine lovers and culture seekers alike. So while you are here, why not continue your wine, culinary and culture experiences with a visit to the Loire Valley and San Sebastian and Bilboa before or after your Bordeaux cruise?
The Loire Valley
If you enjoy historic towns, architecture, and wine, plan to visit the lush and fertile Loire Valley. The central part of the Loire Valley was granted UNESCO status in the year 2000 and is located about 187 miles northeast of Bordeaux.
The major wine regions are Muscadet, Sancerre, and Pouilly-Fumé, with characteristic fruitiness with fresh, crisp flavors.
Amongst the more than 300 château and castle fortifications to explore, you may want to spend time at the regal palace, the Château de Amboise. Set amongst beautiful gardens, you'll soon see why Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci, requested to be buried here. Leonardo DaVinci was awarded the title of "Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect to King Francis 1 in 1515. Originally DaVinci was buried in the church of St. Florentin in Amboise on August 12, 1519, at the age of 67. The church was demolished during the French Revolution, and in 1863, his remains were moved to the Chapel of Saint Hubert at Château de Amboise. You'll find a monument dedicated to this mastermind of design and invention in the gardens on the left side of the chapel.
The largest city in the Loire Valley is Tours; however, the "capital" is Orleans. Be sure to make a stop at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours (a Bishop's former home), where you'll discover works of art by Rubens and Monet as well as sculptures by Auguste Rodin.
Visit the Château de Montsoreau, one of the only château built on a river bed instead of on top of a hill. The château is dedicated to contemporary art as depicted by the artists' group, Art & Language.
After you've visited the famous castles, plan a tasting featuring renowned sparkling wine and cellar visit at Bouvet-Ladubay, where you'll find ten miles of underground cellars.
San Sebastián and Bilbao
Discover Spain's rich Basque Culture when you extend your Bordeaux cruise in San Sebastián and Bilbao. San Sebastián, the "City by the Bay of Biscay," is about three hours from Bordeaux.
Once in San Sebastián, you'll find beaches, a quaint Old town, first-class restaurants, a local market, and many shops.
La Concha beach sits on a shell-shaped bay and is sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean. It's often said that La Concha beach is the most beautiful city beach in Europe.
For a panoramic view of the city, hop on the funicular, built in 1912, up to the top of Mount Igueldo. Once at the top, you'll find the Torreon de Iqueldo, a lighthouse dating to 1855 and an amusement park.
Back in the Old Town, stroll thru the Plaza del a Constitucion, the nerve center of San Sebastián. Be sure to visit the Mercado de La Bretxa, the market where local chefs source their food, as well as stop in at a Pintxo (pronounced "pinchos") bar to sample the local Basque tapas, served on a toothpick or skewer.
San Sebastián Cathedral, The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, ("Catedral de Buen Pastor de San Sebastián) is located on the south side of the Old Town and was constructed in the 19th century NeoGothic Style. The cathedral is home to one of the largest pipe organs in Europe.
Bilbao is about 1 hour from San Sebastián; you won't want to miss the main attraction, the world-famous Guggenheim Museum.
The Guggenheim Museum is attributed to the architect Frank Gehry. You'll know as soon as you see the building you are in for a sensory experience amid Modern Art displays.
Collections include the works of Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Anselm Kiefer. You'll also be able to view famous sculptures by Maman Louise Bourgeois and Jeff Koons well-known "Puppy," dog with flowers.
If you are thinking about a river cruise in 2022 or even 2023, we need to start planning sooner rather than later. Give me call (602.540.3112) or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can get started.
Interested in a cruise through the Bordeaux region? Read more about the great experiences here.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder