May 1, 2017

River deep, mountain high

Wine has been produced in the Bordeaux region since Roman times, but for French holidaymakers it’s the adventure capital of the south west. Here’s how to join them in the great outdoors.

Built on a bend in the Garonne River, the World Heritage-listed Bordeaux region is renowned for producing some of the world’s best-known wines and is surrounded by pretty villages and lush riverside vineyards.

But its network of freshwater lakes, sprawling National Parks and sandy beaches on the Atlantic also make it a magnet for outdoor activity lovers.

To take advantage of the many natural wonders on offer in one of France’s most popular holiday regions, Scenic Freechoice has an array of options for you to choose from when you visit the region on your luxury river cruise.

Climb the Dune du Pilat

Join the one million visitors each year who tackle the climb to the top of this natural wonder near the upmarket resort town of Archachon.

Make your way up 154 steps on the side of this 500m wide, 107m high sand dune and be rewarded with sweeping vistas of the Atlantic, surrounding forest, Cape Ferret headland and perhaps be one of the lucky ones to spot dolphins in the Bassin d’Arcachon.

Watch the battalion of colourful paragliders launch from the southern end of the dune before setting off back down the hill.


Terres d’Oiseaux and Gironde Estuary

The 116-hectare nature park Terres d’Oiseaux is set on the border of the Gironde Estuary and offers a wonderland for bird lovers with over 125 species to be found in this important spot for migratory birds between the Pyrenees and the ocean.

Take a guided visit and enjoy a beautiful nature walk through forests and some of the waterways that form part of Europe’s largest estuary covering 635 kilometres.

In Arcachon, you can explore six kilometres of walking trails along coastal and freshwater wetlands at the Le Teich bird reserve. With 20 waterside hides and platforms from which to view more than 80 species of birds, the reserve is considered one of the best in France.


Cycling the wine country

Grab your Scenic state-of-the-art e-bike and join a 30-kilometre guided round trip along the Captain’s Road.

Your riverside adventure will take you through quaint villages and pretty countryside before returning to the ship where relaxation on the Sun Deck awaits.

In the Médoc, take your bike to the grand 110 ha winery of Château Lagrange, which produces a famous red of the same name which is one of an elite group of wines that were officially classified by Emporer Napoleon III in 1855.