Bordeaux Beyond the Grapes

Castles, fine arts, and architecture add to the wine region’s appeal

You can’t visit many of Bordeaux’s wineries during the grape harvest, which begins in mid-September.
Best known for its famous wines, Bordeaux is a rich and well-rounded stop on any cruise. Sometimes called the Port of the Moon, France’s fifth-largest city is a UNESCO World Heritage site boasting classic architecture, fine works of art, spectacular castles, and – of course – world renowned grapevines.

In the City
With more protected buildings than any French city besides Paris, exploring Bordeaux’s architecture is a must. Go for a walk among the 18th-century buildings (more than 350 of which are listed as historic sites) and along the river near the Quai de la Douane (Customs House Quay). The opera house, Opera National de Bordeaux, is the city’s cultural heart as well as one of its loveliest sights, while the 17th-century St. Andre Cathedral is another worthy attraction. For shopping and dining, the revitalized banks of the Garonne River are the place to be, while downtown’s Rue Charlotte offers more great shops. Also worth a visit it the Musée des Beaux-Arts, with Flemish, Dutch, and Italian art treasures.

Wine and Castles
Of course, there’s no arguing that the region’s most famous draws aren’t worth visiting. Nearby wineries, many of which are on the grounds of beautiful chateaux, are growing some of the world’s best wines, just waiting to be toured and tasted. Some respected names include Medoc and Chateau Mouton Rothschild, while the town of Saint-Emilion is ripe for wine-related exploration.

Fine French Food
For a casual yet delicious meal, Le Cheverus Café is a bistro that stands out from the crowd. Another great option for value and home-style French fare is Cassolette Café, serving hearty family-style meals. If you’re in the mood for something more elegant, L’Estacade sits on stilts over the riverbank and serves gourmet cuisine and unbeatable views. The highly esteemed Le Chapon-Fin – which dates back to 1825 and was one of the first Michelin-designated restaurants in history – serves a refined and modern menu alongside some of the region’s best vintages.

Feeling inspired to visit Bordeaux? Start planning your cruise here!

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