Bordeaux Bike and Boat – Garonne and Dordogne
CategoryBike and Boat
Self Guided or Guided
Start / FinishCastets-en-Dorthe / Libourne
Distance150 miles/242 kms
A Bike and Boat holiday exploring the world famous, sun drenched wine regions of Bordeaux. Cruise the Garonne and Dordogne rivers as ell as the impressive Gironde estuary, disembarking each day for memorable rides through peaceful vineyards to beautiful wine villages.
This relaxing cycling holiday offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Bordeaux’s viticulture. Each day your floating hotel, the comfortable river cruiser Bordeaux, will deliver you to a new wine region to explore by bicycle. You’ll pedal through world famous appellations such as Saint Émilion, Pomerol, Médoc, Sauternes and Margaux. You can navigate the cycle routes yourself, using the maps and route notes provided, or opt for the guided package which includes the services of a knowledgeable local bike guide.
The rides follow a network of quiet lanes that wend their way through the gently rolling countryside. At seemingly just the right intervals quaint stone villages appear, like islands marooned among a sea of vineyards, tempting you to stop for a drink or bite to eat in the shade. Some of these villages have achieved word-wide fame for the quality of their wines, none more-so than Saint Émilion which is a truly magical little place with an idyllic shady square at it’s heart. Each day you’ll cycle past prestigious wine estates such as Angelus, Cheval Blanc, Chateau Palmer and Chateau Margaux to name but a few.
The video below was shot in July 2016 and shows a typical week aboard the MS Bordeaux.
This is leisure cycling at its best and while there are hills to contend with along the way they are never very long and on the whole the going is easy. If you’re concerned about the hills then opt for a state-of-the-art e-bike which will turn this into an easy cycling holiday suitable for anyone with a basic level of fitness.
There will of course be plenty of opportunities to sample the local wines, both during the rides and on board the Bordeaux. In the evenings you’ll enjoy superb cuisine courtesy of the talented on-board chef who uses fresh local produce to create delicious regional specialities.
Another highlight of the week is a day spent in Bordeaux itself where, following a guided tour of the old town, you have plenty of time to explore on your own. Why not visit La Cité du Vin, Bordeaux’s incredible new attraction that offers an interactive journey through local and world wine cultures? Alternatively you could lose yourself in the narrow, charming streets of the old town. perhaps stopping at one of the many street cafes to soak up the atmosphere.
Itinerary & Map
Important note: This tour also operates in reverse, from the Dordogne river to the Garonne river. For the reverse itinerary, including dates and prices, please click here.
Day 1: Castets-en-Dorthe – Entre-DeuxMers, 3 miles/5 kms
Arrive in Castets en Dorthe near the Canal des Deux Mers either via your own arrangements or using the optional transfer from Bordeaux’s main train station, Gare St. Jean. Embarkation is from 3pm. In the afternoon you can join an optional short ride to test the bikes and ensure they are set up to each riders liking in preparation for the longer rides ahead. The short route leads you around Castets. Afterwards a welcome cocktail aboard the Bordeaux precedes dinner.
Day 2: Entre deux Mers, 16-28 miles/35-50 kms
The first ride leads you along the river to the lovely, walled town of Saint Macaire. A nearby Château offers the first opportunity for a wine tasting and you may also wish to visit the former residence of the writer Francois Mauriac.
A very pleasant ride through sunflower fields brings you to the riverside town of La Réole a historic little place with cobblestone streets and two castles. You can then opt to either return to the ship or extend your ride by cycling on to the pretty village of Meilhan-sur-Garonne.
Once back on board the crew cast-off and the MS Bordeaux cruises downstream along the Garonne River to Loupiac, near the pretty town of Cadillac, where she moors for the night.
Day 3: Loupiac/Cadillac – Sauternes, 21 – 32 miles/35 – 50 kms
Today’s ride explores the Sauternes region where some of the world’s fines sweet white wines are produced. The distinct flavour of these wines is created by allowing the grapes to partially rot, or raisin, in the evening mists that occur with reliable regularity in this region thanks to the cold waters of the Ciron River mingling with the more tepid waters of the Garonne. Pedal along the quiet country lanes admiring the grand wine estates perhaps stopping to at one or two to taste the wares if the mood takes you.
After the ride the crew cast-off and the MS Bordeaux cruises downstream to the majestic city of Bordeaux, mooring right in the heart of this beautiful old metropolis.
Day 4: Bordeaux city tour by bike, 10 miles/16 kms
Today is all about discovering and exploring the beautiful city of Bordeaux. Highlights include the Capuchine Market, perhaps indulging in some wine and oysters, the Big Bell of Pay Berlan, the golden triangle, the Girondis column, the water mirror and the Place de la Bourse. You’ll visit pretty hidden squares as you cycle the narrow, winding streets of the atmospheric old town. The bike paths along the river are a great way to take in the city’s grand waterfront buildings. Head north you’ll end up at Bordeaux’s newest attraction La Cité du Vin, an immersive journey into the regions famous viticulture. Alternatively, head into the back streets to find idyllic restaurants and cafe’s that fairly ooze ambience.
If you prefer another ride in the countryside then you can take on the loop following Roger Lapébie’s cycle path to Créon and Sauveterre-en-Guyenne in the Entre-Deux-Mers wine region.
The MS Bordeaux remain moored in Bordeaux for a second night.
Day 5: Bordeaux – Lamarque – Margaux rountrip, 26 miles/42 kms
Enjoy a breakfast cruise along the wide Gironde estuary to Lamarque where you disembark for the day’s ride along the Route des Chateau. You are now in the famous Medoc wine region which stretches along the Gironde’s western flank from just north of Bordeaux to the mouth of the estuary. The sediment-rich soil produces unique, award winning red wines that are well known all around the world. Margaux is the most southerly of the Medoc appelations and here you can visit one of the great wine estates, such as Châteaux Margaux, for an optional tasting.
In the late afternoon the Bordeaux cruises along the wide Gironde estuary to the picturesque little village of Bourg where she moors for the night.We recommend strolling up through the village to the fabulous Maison des Vins to taste some local wines and enjoy the view over the river towards Bordeaux.
Day 6: Bourg – Blaye – Bourg, 16 – 26 miles / 25 – 41 kms
Today’s circular route leads you on a gentle loop through the Côtes de Blaye wine region. The best vineyards here are entitled to the appellation of Premières Côtes de Blaye and produce some quite exquisite wines. You’ll pass elegant manor houses and stunning chateaux surrounded by seemingly endless vineyards. You may also see pilgrims on their long distance walk headed for Santiago de Compostella in northern Spain as one of the pilgrim ways leads through this region. In Blaye we recommend a visit to the impressive fortress on the banks of the Gironde estuary. Designed by the famous military engineer Vauban, the 17th century citadel was one element of a series of fortifications along the estuary built to protect Bordeaux from sea-born invasion. You then ride back to Bourg following the Corniche, a lovely winding lane beside the estuary.
In the evening the MS Bordeaux cruises up the Dordogne River to Libourne/Fronsac where she moors for the night.
Day 7: Fronsac/Libourne – Pomerol and Saint Émilion vineyards, 13-27 miles/21-43 kms
Today’s cycling route will take you to some of the most famous wine estates in the world. Soon after leaving the pretty town of Libourne you’ll find yourself on quiet lanes that wend their way through a patchwork quilt of rolling vineyards. Your route notes will identify the famous ones along the way such as Angelus, Ausone, Cheval Blanc and Petrus. Around lunchtime you arrive in the delightful village of Saint Émilion. Stroll the narrow streets of this picturesque wine village before taking a seat at one of the outdoor cafes in the picturesque square to ingest the atmosphere and possibly a glass of the world famous local product. Return to Libourne via a different route, following a network of quiet lanes through the sea of vineyards.
Day 8: Departure
After a final breakfast on board it’s time to disembark and head for home or your next adventure. An optional, pre-bookable transfer will deliver you to Bordeaux’s main train station which offers good onward links to other cities and Bordeaux airport.
Dates & Prices
|2019 Arrival Dates|
|Garonne & Dordogne|
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|MS Bordeaux - Comfort|
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|Deposit per person||£250|
7 x Breakfast, 6 x packed lunch, 7 x Dinner
Welcome cocktail, presentation of the ship + crew and briefing on the first evening
Complimentary coffee and tea everyday until 4:00 pm.
Maps and route information
GPX tracks and free GPS rental (security deposit of €100 payable locally)
Services of on-board guide
Bike hire (see supplements)
Entrance fees, excursions and wine tastings
Drinks on board
Arrival bus transfer from centre of Bordeaux to ship (£53)
Departure bus transfer from ship to centre of Bordeaux (£53)
Guided cycling package (£159)
The bikes are unisex hybrid touring models with front suspension, 21 speeds, hand brakes, gel saddle and a pannier bag. Good quality e-bikes are also available
GPS devices, loaded with the daily routes are available to rent on board for €15 (payable locally).
Children under the age of 12 are required to wear a helmet in France and we always advocate their use for riders of all ages.
A helmet is not provided, so you will need to bring your own.
This tour operates on the MS Bordeaux, a comfort class river cruiser. More images of her can be found the gallery.
MS BORDEAUX (comfort)
The Bordeaux is a comfortable river cruiser offering 49 cabins arranged over two decks. All cabins feature en-suite shower/wc, small windows that can be opened, individually regulated air-conditioning, satellite TV and mini safe. The lower deck offers 34 twin cabins (8m²). She also has 2 junior suites on the lower deck (11.6m²) which have a small lounge area. On the upper deck, there are 11 more twin cabins, which are the same size as the lower deck twin cabins, and 2 single cabins. The windows of the upper deck cabins are slightly larger than those of the lower deck cabins and all windows open to fresh air.
To the front of the upper deck there is a tastefully furnished salon/lounge with a convivial bar, dance floor and panoramic windows all around. To the rear there is a comfortable restaurant where buffet breakfasts and three course evening meals are served daily. A large, partially covered sun-deck with seating and tables offers plenty of outdoor space to enjoy the fresh air.
A hearty breakfast is provided each morning, along with a packed lunch to take with you on the daily rides. A three-course meal is served each evening in the dining area.
Daily complimentary coffee and tea is available at the end of each cycling tour.
Fly to Bordeaux airport and then catch the number one bus, which departs every 20 minutes, into Bordeaux, alighting at the main train station – Gare Saint Jean. Alternatively, take the new high-speed rail link, connecting Paris to Bordeaux in just 2 hours!
Depending on the time of your arrival, you may wish to reserve seats on the bus transfer between Bordeaux’s Gare Saint Jean station and the boat which departs at 2pm (see price panel for prices). If your flight arrival time does not sync with the transfer time then you’ll need to make your own way to the boat using the directions below:
Trains depart Gare Saint Jean every 30 minutes for Langon and the journey time is about 30 minutes. From Langon take a taxi the final 9 kms to Castets-en-Dorthe.