Imagine eight days of sailing the waterways through the sublime Bordeaux region of France with the sole purpose of exploring legendary châteaux and rolling hills of vineyards all from the comfort of your Viking longship. Beginning March 22, 2014, Viking River Cruises heads to Bordeaux with a brand new itinerary, "Châteaux, Rivers and Wine" aboard the Viking Forseti, one of Viking's award-winning longships. Marking the first time Viking River Cruises will position one of their longships in France, the Viking Forseti will ply the waters through the Bordeaux and Aquitaine regions of France exploring along the Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde Rivers in what is sure to be a feast for all senses—from exciting destinations and magnificent châteaux to delectable cuisine and some of France's most celebrated vintages. Come along as we explore the exciting ports of call on Viking Cruise's "Châteaux, Rivers and Wine."
|The brand new Viking longship "Viking Forseti," will be the first longship deployed in France. Here the Viking Odin in Volendam after its Christening in 2012. Photo: EuroTravelogue. Unauthorized use in prohibited.|
We begin our voyage in Bordeaux, France, a magnificent city stretched along the Gironde River with its historic monuments, second to Paris only in terms of numbers; and its maritime port. Together, they comprise this first UNESCO World Heritage Site on our itinerary. Further into town, we'll explore the Place des Quinconces, one of Europe's largest squares; the 18th-century Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux with its spectacular neoclassical façade of Corinthian columns supporting the entablature of 12 Roman statues, nine of which represent the Muses and three more of the goddesses Juno, Venus and Minerva; and finally the 15th-century Saint Michel Church built between the end of the 14th century through the beginning of the 16th.
|Construction of Saint Michel or Saint Michael Church began at the end of the 14th century and continued though the beginning of 16th. Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
|The vineyards of the Chateau Pichon Longueville in Bordeaux, France, are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet France and Petit Verdot. Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
Leaving Bordeaux behind until the end of our journey, we sail on to Pauillac in the Médoc region, famous for its Médoc and Margaux wines. Once we dock, there will be plenty of wine-tasting opportunities as we travel along the renowned "Route des Châteaux" just north of the city. Plus we'll experience a taste of chateau life too including: Châteaux Lafite Rothschild, Latour and Mouton Rothschild; and we may catch a glimpse of the lighthouse on the Île de Patiras, right in the middle of River Gironde.
|The lighthouse on the Île de Patiras. Photo: Boccalupo.|
|Welcome to Blaye! The ruins of the Gothic chateau contain the tomb of Charibert II, king of Aquitaine. Photo: Mullineauxsand.|
This morning, we sail to the 17th-century citadel of Blaye along the Gironde River. Ruins of an ancient Gothic château contain the tomb of Charibert II, king of Aquitaine. The city, chateau and other forts are collectively listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And, there's an optional excursion to Cognac for a brandy tasting of some of the finest in the world. In the late afternoon, we set sail for Libourne in the Saint-Émilion region, leaving the Gironde River behind us and entering the Dordogne River for this part of the voyage.
|Saint Emilion. Photo: Med PhotoBlog.|
Our fourth day we tour the medieval village of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where we'll taste some of the local vintages of the region. We can either explore the town including the Gothic church, clock tower and Town Hall, or opt for the afternoon excursion to Bergerac in the Dordogne to learn all about the delicacy that is truffles.
|Gothic church in Cadillac town centre. Photo: Ref1.|
Early morning, we'll depart Libourne and ply the waters of the Dordogne back around the bend and continue onward along the Garonne River all morning long until we arrive in Cadillac just after lunch. Upon disembarkation, we depart on an excursion to Sauternes to learn about the sweet dessert wines that this region is so well-known for.
Cadillac and Bordeaux
We'll start Day 6 with a walking tour through the town of Cadillac where an ancient harbor awaits and a stunning 16th-century chateau with its own moat and the ancient city walls with its Clock and Sea Gates. Back on board for lunch, we'll sail back to Bordeaux for the remainder of our journey.
|The Grand Theatre in Bordeaux with its neoclassical colonnade topped off with 12 Roman statues: nine represent the Muses and three the goddesses Juno, Venus and Minerva. Photo: WikiMedia.org.|
After breakfast, we'll visit some of Bordeaux's iconic landmarks including the Place des Quinconces, one of the largest squares in Europe; the neoclassical Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux; and several spectacular churches including Saint Michel Church. Also offered is an optional excursion to the commune of Arcachon on the Atlantic coast to see the Victorian-era villas, walk along the boardwalk and indulge in some savory oysters. The piece de resistance will be to see the Place de la Bourse and its magnificent reflecting pool at night!
On Day 8, we depart our Viking Forseti for the journey home.
Viking River Cruises' new "Châteaux, Rivers and Wine" river cruise promises an unforgettable introduction to France's legendary wine culture owing much thanks to the regional local experts who helped Viking design and map out this itinerary. Not only will guests observe centuries-old wine-making traditions; understand the wines of the Bordeaux region as taught by a master sommelier; and even learn to speak French onboard; they may even learn how to make canelés, a delicious French custard pastry. It's going to be an exciting and delectable 8-day journey to say the least and as Viking River Cruises says, "Celebrate joie de vivre in this land of wine and oysters, truffles and cognac."
Not convinced yet? In the Chairman's own words:
“Our itineraries in France have always been very popular, and we are pleased to introduce this unique new experience in the Bordeaux region,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking River Cruises. “We have designed an itinerary that allows our guests to explore this historically fascinating region and enjoy some of the world’s most celebrated wines.”
Here's what you can expect:
Be sure to stop back here and follow EuroTravelogue on Facebook and Twitter during the week of March 16th for an unprecedented Christening of 16 Viking Longships in Avignon, France. Following the ceremony and the pomp and circumstance, we depart for Bordeaux for an introductory 4-day cruise along Viking's newest itinerary, "Châteaux, Rivers and Wines."