Travelling to Bordeaux in spring, as the region's vineyards had begun to burst into life, was an absolute delight. Incredibly easy to reach by a short flight from the UK, you could also travel by train, via Paris, or even drive should you wish.
I chose to cruise with Uniworld on an 8-night Brilliant Bordeaux itinerary on board River Royal, which has recently undergone a complete refurbishment to become S.S. Bon Voyage. Tempted by the high level of inclusivity and the line's focus on the region in which each ship sails, reflected in the design of each vessel, I was impressed by the level of comfort offered on board.
The ongoing refurbishment programme undertaken by Uniworld is designed to improve an already excellent fleet, and although the interior of River Royal didn't demand a refit, the new S.S. Bon Voyage looks amazing, with an impressive, polished wood-clad lobby and stylish emerald tones in Le Salon Champagne, inspired by Yves Saint Laurent's personal abode, Villa Majorelle. All has been designed to immerse guests in French culture, art and wine and I especially like the sizeable pool on the sun deck.
Throughout the trip the included tours and excursions were focused on the region's superb food and wine, and dining on board also reflected regional and seasonal food. As well as visiting vineyards with an emphasis on the grand cru, we also had an excellent wine tasting on board in the private wine tasting room with the Sommelier, who didn't seem old enough to have such an extensive knowledge! In fact, the whole trip was a wine tasting extravaganza.
We visited Chateau Royal de Cazeneuve, still inhabited by descendants of the family that built the Chateau. As well as meeting the owners and enjoying a tour we also sat down to a four-course lunch, each course accompanied by a sweet wine which was quite a revelation as to how well they matched.
The culinary delights continued in Libourne, where we enjoyed a visit to the farmer's market and gathered a picnic of local produce to eat by the river. One day on board there was an opportunity to enjoy some local oysters, arranged in a huge display, and whilst not many guests joined in, we certainly enjoyed them!
Our last excursion was a bike ride round Bordeaux, a welcomingly flat city, on an easy cycling route which was very enjoyable.
The experience delivered by Uniworld was faultless. Service on board was attentive with a hard-working team always happy to help and make sure we were comfortable with a drink in hand. The local guides were knowledgeable and happy to speak at length when answering questions and the chance to travel so extensively around a relatively small region of France helped convey the distinctive identity of the area. If Bordeaux isn't on your river cruise list, it really should be!