Classic booze cruise: Board this luxurious boat in Bordeaux and pattern the thrill of France’s vineyards


A classic booze cruise: Board this ‘floating chateau’ in Bordeaux and pattern the thrill of France’s well-known vineyards (and the drinks are all-in!)

  • Lesley Bellew boards Uniworld’s SS Bon Voyage to cruise down the rivers Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde
  • She samples native wines on board – white from Blaye and a purple 1st Grand Cru Classe from Saint-Emilion 
  • Her tour group of 90 manages to get via 800 bottles of wine on the tour

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Our cruise director comes over the tannoy on the finish of our SS Bon Voyage’s Bordeaux crusing and declares: ‘It’s a report. You’ve knocked again 800 bottles of wine.’

I’m among the many 90 passengers on this posh, week-long cruise and we’ve additionally clocked up gastronomical bragging rights — visitor chef on our floating chateau is James Martin.

Embarkation begins properly. Whereas instances are taken to our cabins, everybody piles into the glitzy lounge. It’s 11am and the orders are particular: ‘Champagne, please.’ Drinks are all-in throughout Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ fleet.

Lesley Bellew boards Uniworld's SS Bon Voyage in Bordeaux for a tour along the rivers Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde

Lesley Bellew boards Uniworld’s SS Bon Voyage in Bordeaux for a tour alongside the rivers Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde

'While cases are taken to our cabins, everyone piles into the glitzy lounge (above),' Lesley says of the beginning of her tour. 'It’s 11am and the orders are specific: "Champagne, please"'

‘Whereas instances are taken to our cabins, everybody piles into the glitzy lounge (above),’ Lesley says of the start of her tour. ‘It’s 11am and the orders are particular: “Champagne, please”‘

As Lesley's boat leaves Bordeaux, pictured, celebrity chef James Martin does a cookery demonstration for passengers

As Lesley’s boat leaves Bordeaux, pictured, celeb chef James Martin does a cookery demonstration for passengers 

As we go away Bordeaux to sail alongside the rivers Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde, James treats us to a demo. He additionally shares a helpful cheat; methods to make a fruit and cream gateau with an inexpensive grocery store flan case as the bottom.

James tells tales of childhood summers in Saint-Emilion. Whereas his father travelled the area tasting wines, he labored in a resort kitchen.

‘On the age of eight, I got here again from France realizing I wished to be a prepare dinner,’ he says. ‘It’s right here I learnt to make use of the perfect substances.’ And that’s what we’re served on James’s menu; Thai-spiced crab risotto, ceviche of monkfish, pan-roasted sea bass and a white chocolate and single malt whisky bread and butter pudding.

After every outing the crew greet guests back ‘home’ on the 'beautifully appointed' SS Bon Voyage. Above is one of the ship's suites

After each outing the crew greet visitors again ‘dwelling’ on the ‘superbly appointed’ SS Bon Voyage. Above is among the ship’s suites 

Suites on the SS Bon Voyage have a butler, Lesley reveals. Above is one of the suite bathrooms

Suites on the SS Bon Voyage have a butler, Lesley reveals. Above is among the suite bogs 

Cabins are 'sumptuous' with handmade Savoir beds, fine linen and a marble-clad shower room

Cabins are ‘luxurious’ with handmade Savoir beds, wonderful linen and a marble-clad bathe room

Pictured is the sun deck on the ship. Drinks are all-in across Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ fleet, Lesley notes

Pictured is the solar deck on the ship. Drinks are all-in throughout Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ fleet, Lesley notes 

It’s accompanied by native wine chosen by our sommelier; white from Blaye and a purple 1st Grand Cru Classe produced in Saint-Emilion. SS Bon Voyage sails 30 miles to Blaye, mooring beneath a Unesco-listed fortress and reverse La Petite Cave wine bar.

Subsequent, we flip our consideration to cognac on the Home of Remy Martin, the place the outdated cellars are stuffed with cobwebs so spiders defend the casks from bugs.

After each outing the crew greet visitors again ‘dwelling’ on the superbly appointed SS Bon Voyage. 

Cabins are not any much less luxurious with handmade Savoir beds, wonderful linen and a marble-clad bathe room, whereas suites have a butler.

Lesley samples a white wine from Blaye during her tour, before the SS Bon Voyage sails to the French commune (pictured)

Lesley samples a white wine from Blaye throughout her tour, earlier than the SS Bon Voyage sails to the French commune (pictured)  

On a day trip in Saint-Emilion, pictured, Lesley stops by Le Veritable Macaron De St Emilion, a bakery that uses a centuries-old almond macaron recipe

On a day journey in Saint-Emilion, pictured, Lesley stops by Le Veritable Macaron De St Emilion, a bakery that makes use of a centuries-old almond macaron recipe

Wine knowledgeable Susy Atkins accompanies visitors on a tour of Seventeenth-century Chateau d’Abzac, in a area she says is, ‘arguably nonetheless the world’s premier wine area’.

We enterprise into Saint-Emilion, to Le Veritable Macaron De St Emilion, a bakery that makes use of a centuries-old almond macaron recipe. 

We pattern them straight from the paper they have been baked on — and like James Martin vow to return to this fairy story village and our floating chateau.

TRAVEL FACTS

SS Bon Voyage’s Sensible Bordeaux round-trip cruises sail weekly till October 30. All-inclusive costs from £1,799 pp on the August 21 crusing when booked by June 30. Extra celeb chef and wine-themed cruise dates to be introduced at uniworld.com (0808 168 9110).

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