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Taste of Bordeaux - Day 1 Bordeaux

This is the first in our series about AmaWaterway’s Taste of Bordeaux river cruise. This introductory post focuses on the city of Bordeaux and an overview of the cruise itself.

Place de la Bourse Bordeaux France. Place de la Bourse Bordeaux France.

Pre Cruise in Bordeaux

We stayed 4 nights in the city of Bordeaux between our Venice and Bordeaux river cruises.  Bordeaux is a large city but  is very easy to get around.  It’s central area has a very large collection of  beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings - blocks and blocks of classic facades.  The waterfront is really impressive.

It was about 50 Euro’s from the Bordeaux airport to Bordeaux center city via taxi.  


Gardens along the Garonne river promenade Gardens along the Garonne river promenade

We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel which is directly on a main square - great location.  It’s across from the Grand Theater, a beautiful 18th century structure built for opera, concerts and galleries.  During our time in Bordeaux we visited many UNESCO sites including the Cathedral of St Andrew, the Tour Pey Eland, the Porte Cailhau, the Place de la Bourse, the water reflection mirror.  We also took lots of walks along the waterfront as well as around town in search of food in the Saint Pierre section of the city.  The city was filled with tourists; perhaps to be expected in late July but still surprising to see.   Most of the tourists were French although many were from the UK.   It’s main pedestrian shopping street - Sainte Catherine was filled with people day and night.  The many side streets were filled with hundreds of restaurants - from take aways to very fancy sit down affairs.  We found the food in Bordeaux to be pretty expensive.  Of course the Gordon Ramsey restaurants are very expensive (38 Euro hamburger with foie gras) but the typical local restaurants we saw were more on the expensive side.

Cathedral in Bordeaux

The Cathedral was particularly interesting as we were able to go on an English speaking tour.  There were parts of the building date back to the year 600, while most of the building was 14th century.  Fascinating to hear about some of the history which includes two weddings which transferred this part of France (Aquatine) between English and French rule.  

The last day of our cruise is in Bordeaux and includes a full city tour.  So we’ll describe a bit more then.

Here's some photo's of the Cathedral:

[gallery columns="4" ids="6284,6285,6286,6287,6300,6299,6298"]

AmaWaterways AmaDolce

We arrived at the AmaDolce around noon - in time for a very light lunch.  We walked around the neighborhood and by the time we got back our room was ready so we checked in and unpacked.

AmaDolce on the Gironde. Taken from Blaye Citadel AmaDolce on the Gironde. Taken from Blaye Citadel

This is one of AmaWaterway’s older ships - a bit smaller than the new ones and with French Balconies only.  But it’s been outfitted with all of Ama’s latest including the Chef’s table restaurant in the back of the ship, the hot tub in the top deck, the sauna in the exercise room.  We have a nice dinner and of course meet lots of good people as seems to be the custom on river cruises.  We meet people from Seattle, Australia and Scotland and all apparently have strong opinions about President Trump.   Interesting.

Muddy waters

A word about the river - it's muddy.  The constant movement of the tides means the bottom is constantly churning.  But based on the amount and health of the fish in the river and estuary it's clean water.  But it doesn't make for beautiful pictures.  Sorry.


Cruise overview

Sailing route is shown in dark blue. Taste of Bordeaux cruise Sailing route is shown in dark blue. Taste of Bordeaux cruise

This cruise starts in Bordeaux France on the Garonne river.  It heads inland to Cadillac then turns around, passes Bordeaux and travels up the Garonne River into the Gironde estuary where it visits the the Medoc region on the left bank.  The ship then turns around in the estuary and stops on the right bank in Blaye and Bourg before stopping in Libourne along the Dordogne river.  The last day is spent going down the Dordogne to the confluence with the Garonne River before returning to Bordeaux.

All three waterways - the estuary and the two rivers are tidal.  This not only means the water level changes by up to 15 ft depending on the tide but also that twice a day the water changes direction - alternating moving from Ocean into the river and from river into the Atlantic.  This makes navigation “interesting” and also means the itinerary is modified each week so that the ship doesn’t get stuck when the tides go out or can pass under certain bridges when the tide comes in.

Whining about wine

The cruise is very wine intensive.  Although there’s lots of history and scenery, the focus - even if it’s not a wine cruise - is wine.  You’ll see lots of vineyards and visits many Chateau.  It was wine after all that made this region both famous and rich.  Bordeaux is the capital of the Aquitaine region in Southwest France;  Aquitaine was an independent kingdom before the English ruled the area for 300 years in the middle ages, uniting with France in  1453.  Here’s a more complete history of the area.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquitaine.

But if you don't like wine or don't want to learn about wine, this itinerary might not be the best choice.  Love the French countryside, history, culture and people to be sure.  But this is clearly all about wine.  Great wine that is.

Famous finish

The author in front of Porte Cailhau The author in front of Porte Cailhau Bordeaux. Built in 15th century

The first evening is filled with anticipation since few of the passengers have been to this part of France before. We are in the end of July 2017 and the weather is quite nice - mid 70’s to low 80’s during the day and 60’s in the evening.   We look forward to exploring one of the most famous wine regions in the world in the upcoming days.

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