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Sip Your Way Down the Garonne: Wine-Themed French River Cruises

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If you love French wine and are keen to know more about the terroir, land and culture from which it comes then you should be considering the French river cruises which wind their way along the waterways of the country’s famous vineyard-growing regions. There is no better way to really connect with a landscape than gliding along its peaceful waterways, visiting its towns and villages and sampling its local fare. And nowhere is this more true than in the grape-growing district of south-western France, where the landscape, with its rolling vineyards, is at the very heart of the region’s history and culture.

The wine in Bordeaux is as much a part of the region as its people, and the two have been interlinked for generations with production in the area going back around 2,000 years. Today a visit to the region, on one of the French river cruises which meander way along the Garonne river, is the perfect way to learn more about its wine and viticulture traditions.

Here are just some of the highlights you can expect to enjoy on your trip.

Armagnac Tasting at the Lapeyrade Estate

Spend the day travelling along the Garonne taking in sights like the Plan Canal d’Agen, one of France’s most impressive aqueducts, and the medieval town of Nerac. Then round off all that culture with a trip of the Lapeyrade Estate to sample some of France’s oldest tipple: Armagnac. The tasting takes place in the estate’s atmospheric cellars where visitors can get insider information about the production process which goes into creating this wonderful digestif.

Discover the History of Cork-Making at Buzet-sur-Baise

The fortified medieval village of Buzet-sur-Baise, with its pretty, colourful houses, is a great place to visit on any French river cruises of the region. With a great weekly market where you can really immerse yourself in the culture and gastronomy of the area and the nearby traditional glass-blowing factory in Vianne, you will feel connected to the Bordeaux region’s past and present. Wine enthusiasts should be sure not to miss out on the cork museum in Mezin. Providing a fascinating insight into the importance and developments in cork-making, the museum will change the way you think about the humble wine bottle.

Tread the Hallowed Ground of Saint Emilion

No wine tour of the region would be complete without a visit to the Bordeaux appellation region of Saint Emilion. One of France’s most distinguished appellations, your cruise will take you past some of the country’s leading vineyards. Make sure you disembark to wander around the town of Saint Emilion itself, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval town is a cultural gem in the heart of the region’s beautiful rural landscape.

Once you’ve had your fill of culture, it is time to get down to the serious business of wine tasting in this famous region. If you are lucky enough to have the choice, I would recommend visiting the Château Beau-Sejour-Becot, the home of some of the appellation’s most famous premiers and grand crus. Take a tour of the vineyard and discover what makes its grapes so very special, before stepping inside to find out more about the wine production, and of course, tasting the end result.

A trip along the Garonne will give wine lovers a new understanding of some of the region’s famous labels. When you return home and open a wonderful bottle of Saint Emilion you will be able to picture the landscape in your mind’s eye, and taste the sunshine on its beautiful vineyards.
About author: Desiree Michels

Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury river cruises and barge holidays throughout Europe. If you're looking for the most exciting French river cruises, European Waterways is an ideal choice. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.

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