Bordeaux, a port city. The city’s past as a busy port is obvious today to anyone walking along the quays beside the Garonne. Serving as the backbone for trade, the river has shaped the city’s growth from Gallo-Roman times through to the present day. The natural port formed by its meandering half-circle, from Paludate to Bacalan, like a crescent moon, gave rise to the city being baptised the “Port of the Moon”.
A DAY ON THE RIVER
There are 76 km between Bordeaux and the tip of the Gironde estuary, providing several cruise companies with the perfect setting for cruises and excursions that can last from an hour and a half to the whole day. See Bordeaux, with its harmonious 18th century façades, and the beautifully restored Quais des Chartrons, from a different angle. Continuing downstream, the rich architectural diversity of the city is revealed, before giving way once more to a wild landscape of trees and greenery.
The river cruise companies, Bordeaux River Cruise, Croisières Burdigala, Croisière Marco Polo, Yacht de Bordeaux, Bordeaux Yachting and Bordeaux Be Boat offer a wide range of possibilities. Cruises through the Port of the Moon, and further down the Garonne River and the estuary, an aperitif accompanied by the winegrowers who produced the wine you are drinking, stopovers at beautiful châteaux and nature-reserve islands, or dinner cruises, that may even be accompanied by a jazz trio! A new floating luxury hotel, the Péniche Tango offers one-week cruises on the Garonne and the Dordogne.
AN ALTERNATIVE RIVER EXPERIENCE
Instead of using traditional public transport services, Bordeaux residents and visitors can take the « Batcub” river shuttles, with five stops at Place Stalingrad (Bastide), Place des Quinconces, the Hangers, the Cité du Vin, and Lormont, at the base of the Pont d’Aquitaine, the French equivalent of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a fun way to get to destinations on different sides of the river, for the same price as a tram ticket.
From April to October, you can also take a guided tour of the Garonne by jet-ski, canoes and stand-up paddles.
BORDEAUX, A POPULAR CRUISE DESTINATION
33,300 passengers on maritime cruises dropped anchor in the Gironde’s waters in 2018. Each visit is accompanied by the spectacular raising of the 117-metre middle section of the Chaban-Delmas bridge parallel to the water so that the ships can pass underneath.
Bordeaux is now well established as « terminus » for companies specializing in cruises. CroisiEurope, Viking River Cruises, Uniworld, Scenic, Grand Circle Travel and AmaWaterways are among the cruise companies that include Bordeaux in their programmes.
The website cruisebordeaux.com is the main communication tool for travel professionals, with detailed technical and tourist information for each stopover.