Pristine beaches, delicious wine and some of the most enchanting views one could imagine await your rail and cruise discovery in southwestern France.
About the Tour
Spend 10 days unearthing the wonder of southwestern France on this thoughtful journey, which combines travel by train and luxury cruise ship. We begin with time along the Basque Coast in Biarritz, an elegant resort town that features centuries of history and seaside charm. Even more of the region’s beauty is captured with a ride aboard the La Rhune Mountain Railroad, which takes us through the dramatic scenes of the Atlantic Pyrenees Mountains. From the coast, we travel to the world-famous wine region of Bordeaux by train, and it is here that our floating hotel, the MS Cyrano de Bergerac, awaits. This 5-day cruise through the Gironde Estuary and along the Dordogne River offers captivating ports of call, unforgettable excursions and luxurious amenities. Enjoy experiences in picturesque locations such as the Médoc wine region, Blaye, Libourne, St Emilion, Cadillac and Bordeaux. From wine tastings to chateaux, and from famous caves to 12th-century sites, the intrigue presented on this journey is not easily forgotten.
- Scenic rail excursion on La Rhune Mountain Railroad
- Hotel accommodations for 3 nights
- 6-night cruise aboard the MS Cyrano de Bergerac
- 21 meals including 1 gala dinner
- Visit St Jean-de-Luz
- Tours of Bordeaux and Cadillac
- Cruise the Gironde Estuary & explore the Médoc wine region
- Libourne and tour the cave of St Emilion
- Exclusive meeting point at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras
- Transportation aboard a deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional Tour Manager
Day 1 - Arrive Biarritz
Meet your group and Tour Manager at your Biarritz hotel. A welcome dinner is included this evening. (D)
Day 2 - Uncovering Biarritz
Your full first day in Biarritz is free to begin exploring. The resort, with its sweeping promenade and vast beaches, offers a range of activities for you to enjoy. You might like to try your luck in the casino, or visit the town's lighthouse. If you're feeling energetic, you could perhaps take a stroll past the atmospheric Old Port to Rocher de la Vierge, a statue on a rocky headland said to protect the safe return of local fishermen, now connected to the town by a footbridge. (B)
Day 3 - La Rhune Mountain Railroad
On today's excursion we travel by coach to Col de Saint-Ignace, where we connect with the superb Petit Train de la Rhune. This classic rack-and-pinion railroad takes us through the dramatic Atlantic Pyrenees in lovingly restored wooden carriages - overcoming a height difference of 2,415 feet during the journey. The route takes us through steep-sided rocky valleys, with a fabulous panorama over the rolling meadows and impressive foothills of the nearby Basque region. Before long we arrive at the summit of La Rhune, which not only marks the border between France and Spain, but at 3,000 feet also offers a magnificent panorama over the Bay of Biscay. After time to admire the views, we descend the mountain then continue by coach to the lively fishing port of St Jean de Luz.
Here you have a little time to explore; perhaps take a stroll along the promenade, and watch the charming fishing boats bring their catch back to the sheltered harbor. Otherwise, the medieval center is a delight to wander around. We enjoy a three-course lunch with wine in a local restaurant before returning to Biarritz. (B, L)
Day 4 - Bordeaux and Dordogne cruise
Following breakfast in the hotel, we make our way back to the railroad station in time for our train to Bordeaux - the center of one of the world's most famous wine regions and set on the banks of the Garonne. Here we transfer to our floating hotel for 6 nights, the MS Cyrano de Bergerac. After time to settle in, we are greeted with a welcome cocktail. Tonight's dinner is followed by an evening of entertainment on board. (B, D)
Day 5 - Wines of Médoc
This morning we cruise into the scenic Gironde Estuary, passing the scattering of traditional wooden fishing huts dotted around the attractive inlets, such as Cazeau Island and pretty Patiras Island. After taking in these charming scenes at a relaxed pace, we arrive in Pauillac, a sleepy port whose quayside is lined with grand stone houses. Following lunch on board we visit the renowned Médoc wine region on an included excursion. Here some of the world's most celebrated red wines are cultivated, grown in sloping vineyards overlooking the river.
The excursion follows the famous Châteaux Route, with views of the area's noted stately homes. Back on board, this evening we enjoy a dinner of scrumptious French cuisine. (B, L, D)
Day 6 - Route de la Corniche Fleurie*
We spend a leisurely morning cruising further into the Gironde Estuary, passing the atmospheric marshlands and ancient Troglodyte dwellings that feature prominently around this stretch of the river. We also pass through Meschers-sur-Gironde, characterized by its brooding cliffs overlooking the river.
In the afternoon we arrive in Blaye, the starting point for an afternoon of possible excursions. We take a trip along the Route de la Corniche, for a closer look at the idyllic and time-honoured landscapes that have been so well preserved here.
The journey passes along the superb, narrow cliff-top road overlooking the Dordogne. Flanked by lush vineyards, we'll enjoy some time to look around the idyllic walled village of Bourg - where rustic cottages are stacked almost on top of each other high on the hillsides. On our way back to Blaye, we make a short stop at the town's imposing citadel. Constructed in the late 17th century, the majestic fortress is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and affords a magnificent panorama over the river and estuary.
Afterwards we enjoy a tasting of local specialties, all washed down with a glass of regional wine. (B, L, D)
*Please note the 2021 departures will visit Rochefort and La Rochelle instead of Blaye.
Day 7 - To Libourne and St Emilion
Early this morning we leave Blaye and continue our cruise, navigating the Gironde and joining the peaceful Dordogne River on our way to the attractive wine town of Libourne. Disembarking, we travel to St Emilion for a guided tour of this UNESCO listed city before visiting the Troglodyte cave St Emilion stayed in. We'll also see the largest monolithic church in Europe. We then call at a family-run vineyard, where we enjoy a tasting of some popular local wines before returning to Libourne. (B, L, D)
Day 8 - Cadillac
Today we arrive in the marvelous walled town of Cadillac, with its rich history dating back to the 13th century. This afternoon we take a tour of Roquetaillade Chateau, a magnificent 12th-century listed monument. This castle is a great example of a medieval fortress that's adapted to changing styles over the centuries. Since its initial design, it has hosted kings, cardinals and other important figures, each one leaving their own indelible mark on the architecture and interiors. (B, L, D)
Day 9 - Bordeaux
Following a leisurely morning on board, this afternoon we arrive back in Bordeaux, a beautiful city brimming with 18th-century grandeur. With its broad boulevards and quaint Old Town, the UNESCO-protected city boasts an exciting diversity that's palpable in many of its attractions. We embark on a city tour for some deeper insight into Bordeaux's history. Alternatively you are free to explore at leisure. Back on board this evening, we enjoy a gala dinner. (B, L, D)
Day 10 - Tour conclusion
After a final breakfast on board, this morning you disembark the ship and are free to make your way to the airport for your flight back home. (B)
Mercure Biarritz Center Plaza, Biarritz
The 4-Star Mercure Biarritz Center Plaza stands in the center of Biarritz, just 100m from the main beach and the sea. This stylish art deco hotel has retained many of its original features and is recognized by the French National Trust as being a fine example of 1930s seaside architecture. The hotel has a bar serving a range of beverages and light snacks. Rooms come equipped with air conditioning, a satellite television, telephone, safe, minibar and hairdryer.
Hotel Mercure President Biarritz Plage, Biarritz
Overlooking the Bay of Biscay, this modern hotel with a Pop Art-inspired interior is a 9-minute walk from the Biarritz Aquarium and 3 km from the Cite de l'Ocean interactive museum. Contemporary rooms feature complimentary Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and desks, as well as minibars, and tea and coffeemaking facilities.
MS Cyrano de Bergerac
We enjoy this river cruise aboard the MS Cyrano de Bergerac which offers great cuisine, an exciting package of included shore excursions and modern amenities on every deck - all combining to make for a wonderfully enjoyable cruise. MS Cyrano de Bergerac offers great cuisine, comfortable cabins and modern amenities on every deck - all combining to make for a wonderfully enjoyable cruise.
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