Port of call & excursions

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    1. City tour of Bordeaux & Cité du Vin

      • Port of call : Bordeaux
      • Length : 4h00

      You will depart by coach from the ship berth for both a panoramic and walking tour of Bordeaux, city recently listed as UNESCO World Heritage site. This distinction recognizes the beauty and unity of style of Bordeaux's architectural heritage, which has developed harmoniously over the centuries and remained remarkably well-preserved.

      You will drive along the Chartrons river front where the wine trade has started, and “L’Esplanade des Quinconces”, which is one of Europe’s largest squares (12 hectares) with a column commemorating French Revolution. Make a first stop at the “Grand Theatre”, the Bordeaux Opera House which was built by Victor Louis in 1773, one of the most beautiful in Europe and a pure work of art from the 18th century. Strolling through the Old Bordeaux area, you will discover beautiful squares such as “Place du Parlement”, the former royal marketplace (1760) with harmonious facades and fountain and “Place de la Bourse”, the former royal square dedicated to Louis XV (1729). Your walk will take you to the Palais Rohan (18th), now the City Hall and walk to the 13th-century Cathedral St Andrew, where Alienor d'Aquitaine married Louis VII, for an inside visit.

      Continue your discovery at “La Cité du Vin”. Wine is an element which cannot be separated from the living culture and heritage of our country, but also of many other countries around the world. Through the millennia, wine has brought people together, sculpted our landscape and given birth to a wealth of myths and rites, a real culture. Wine has always been a symbol of hospitality and sharing: wine in social life, wine at Athenian symposia where it was seen as a test of a citizen’s wisdom, the medieval tradition of the ‘Vin d’Honneur’. Wine is about peace, acceptance of others, the meeting of civilisations. After a walk through the permanent exhibition, a glass of wine will be offered.

      The tour concludes with short bus return to pier.

       

      • The order of sights visited may vary. We recommend you wear flat, comfortable walking shoes. Inside visit of the Cathedral depends on Mass celebrations and cannot be guaranteed.

      75.00 €
    2. The famous Medoc Château road

      • Port of call : Pauillac
      • Length : 3h00

      The Medoc wine road, located between the Gironde estuary and the Landes forest, provides magnificent views of vine-covered gravelly rises as far as the eye can see. You will have the opportunity to take photos of some of the most famous Châteaux of the area... Médoc vineyards are orderly and well-kept almost to the point of fanaticism, and the region's world famous châteaux produce wine that are nothing short of divine... Moulis, Listrac, Saint Julien, Saint Estèphe, Pauillac, Médoc, Haut Médoc and Margaux ( with the celebrated château of the same name).

      You will visit the cellars of one of the famous estates: Château Gruaud Larose, located in Medoc district of Saint-Julien.

      After a short stop at Chateau Margaux, continue your way to Château Gruaud Larose, situated on the Saint Julien terroir just next to the village of Beychevelle, close to the “Route des Chateaux”. While the surface of this district is quite small, it assembles the greatest concentration of “Cru Classé” (classified growth) wines in the Medoc.

      The vineyard is stretching over 82 hectares of gravely soil overlaying calcareous clay which gives a fine wine with character. As a result, it was classified « Second Grand Cru » (top ranked growth) in 1855. Throughout the centuries, Chateau Gruaud Larose has managed to impose a perfect balance between nature and the consideration of man’s work in its quest for excellence. The estate’s motto is “The King of Wines and the Wine of Kings”. The nose and the bouquet of Château Gruaud Larose reveal the identity of its Medoc origins. An intense elixir imposing its tannic and spicy richness. A superb concentration, an unusual strength in the fruit and an astonishing final – profound and aromatic.

      On site, you will first discover the estate from the above, thanks to the recently built tower allowing to enjoy a spectacular view on the estate, its vineyards and the Gironde river. You will then proceed to the vat and barrel cellars and be introduced to the secrets of wine-making-techniques, before following your guide to the tasting room so as to indulge yourself with their wines.

      You will enjoy a special tasting of two wines from the estate paired with French cheeses !

       

      • This tour involves moderate walking on paved and pebbled terrain. You must negotiate various steps to visit the property and its wine cellars. We recommend you wear comfortable shoes. This tour is not recommended to guests with limited mobility or in a wheelchair.

      80.00 €
    3. Hiking tour through Pauillac vineyards

      • Port of call : Pauillac
      • Length : 2h15

      Today, leaving the ship on foot, you will enjoy a nice guided walk though Pauillac village and the vineyards.

      During this walk with your guide, you will learn the secrets of the Gironde Estuary, see the departure site of Lafayette on its way to the Independence War, learn about the locals countryside life and the fishing technics. Walking through Pauillac village, and then out, you will walk through the vines where your guides will show you the gravels and the grapes that makes this beautiful estate one of the best of the world!

      On your way you will discover some of the most prestigious Pauillac classified wine estates such as Château Latour, and Château Pichon Longueville.

       

      • We recommend you wear sports shoes and sports clothes. This tour is not suitable for passengers with walking difficulties. This tour is limited to 20 participants.

      30.00 €
    4. San Sebastian, the elegant Basque Country city

      • Port of call : Saint-Jean-de-Luz
      • Length : 4h00

      From the pier, you will board your coach and start the 1-hour drive to San Sebastián, across the Spanish border.

      The Kings and Queens of Spain chose San Sebastián as the royal seaside resort just as Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie chose Biarritz. Today San Sebastián remains a brilliant and seductive city, a cultural hub of the Basque Country.

      After a photo stop at Monte Igueldo, which provides a panoramic view of San Sebastián Bay, you will enjoy a panoramic tour of the city.

      Then, you will make your way to the old town where your guided 45-minute walking tour will start. You will visit the city's "old quarter" with its narrow pedestrian streets.

      Continue on to the famous streets lined with "tapas" bars, where you can enjoy some free time to experience the atmosphere while enjoying some tapas with Spanish wines or local cider (at your own expense).

      Finally, you will return to your ship after a 1-hour drive.

      • This excursion involves approximately 1,5 km (1 mile) of walking on uneven ground with steps. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes and protect yourself from the sun. This tour is limited to 105 participants. The tapas are not included in the price.

      60 €
    5. Saint-Jean-de-Luz & Biarritz

      • Port of call : Saint-Jean-de-Luz
      • Length : 4h00

      From the pier, you will meet your guide and start your walking tour through the historic town.

      Saint-Jean-de-Luz was formerly a famous pirate port. The Basque "privateers" sailed under the authority of the French King and were the scourge of English merchant ships. Saint-Jean-de-Luz became a veritable "pirates nest" and many of the fine houses today were built from the revenues of the privateers. The golden age of prosperity for the town was crowned by the marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain in the Basque church in 1660. The royal wedding, which took place in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, was the result of the "Treaty of the Pyrenees" signed between France and Spain the previous year. The two houses where the couple awaited the marriage can be seen on either side of the town square. The Basque church of St. John the Baptist is particularly interesting. The doorway the couple used to leave after the ceremony was immediately walled up so that no-one else could cross the royal threshold. The interior is one of the finest examples of religious Basque architecture with classic wooden balconies typical of Basque churches.

      Afterwards, you will board your coach and make your way to Biarritz. En route, you will pass Bidart and Guethary, typical villages of the region with their "fronton", where the Basques play the "pelota", their traditional sport.

      Once you arrive in Biarritz, you will enjoy a guided panoramic tour following by a walking tour.

      You will discover the "Queen of resorts and the resort of Kings" and the "Grande Plage", the main beach in town, where surfers from all over the world come to ride the waves.

      Continue on to the hotel du Palais. Its façade overhangs the golden beach of Biarritz and recalls the idle and frivolous period of the ‘20s. Built in 1855 as a summer house for the Imperial couple, the building owes its E shape to the name of the Empress Eugenie.

      The next stop will be the cozy fishing port nestled in the rocks. It is considered by many to be a separate tiny village within the city of Biarritz.

      After the fishing port, it's off to the Rock of the Virgin, a landmark in Biarritz. This "island" is attainable only by an imposing bridge which was constructed by Gustave Eiffel, the same architect who, of course, designed the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.

      You will conclude your oceanfront tour of Biarritz with the ancient whaling port, whaling having been an integral part of the history of Biarritz. It is an interesting as well as amusing tour packed with anecdotes from Biarritz’s colourful past. A photo-stop will be made at the lighthouse, located on the northern part of Biarritz with its panoramic view of the city. Your guide will take you on a short orientation tour inside Biarritz’s bustling marketplace. After, you will enjoy some independent time to walk among the stalls, meet the vendors and discover the marketplace’s delectable offerings on your own. Fresh seafood, specialty cured ham, traditional ewe’s milk cheese and Basque cake can all be found here.

      Finally, you will return to your ship after a 30-minute drive.

      • This excursion involves approximately 0.7 mile (1 km) of walking on uneven ground with steps. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes and protect yourself from the sun. This tour is not recommended for guests with any mobility restrictions. This tour is limited to 70 participants.

      60 €
    6. Private visit of Cristobal Balenciaga Museum

      • Port of call : Saint-Jean-de-Luz
      • Length : 4h00

      From the pier, you will board your coach for the 1-hour drive to the medieval port town of Getaria, located in the Basque Country of Northern Spain. Upon arrival, you will enjoy a private, guided tour of the museum and its collections

      Opened in June of 2011, the fascinating Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum honours the life and legacy of the great fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972), who came to define haute couture in the 1950s and ‘60s. The location of the museum is no accident: It is situated in the designer’s hometown of Getaria, Spain.

      At the museum, you will discover the designer’s dresses displayed like works of art, which some would argue they are. Talented in sewing and tailoring from a young age, Balenciaga is credited with transforming the silhouette by broadening the shoulders and narrowing the waist. In the late 1950s, his high-waisted Empire dresses and kimono-like coats become icons of the industry, drawing the eye and patronage of celebrities and royalty, including Fabiola de Mora y Aragon, who wore a Balenciaga design for her 1960 wedding to King Baudouin I of Belgium.

      Among the “masterworks” on display during the museum’s first season were a coat and dress designed by Balenciaga and commissioned by Grace Kelly as well as the aforementioned Aragon wedding dress.

      The museum buildings are works of art unto themselves. One building is the historic Aldamar Palace, while the second is a new building designed by Cuban architect Julian Argilagos. A long, curved, slightly trapezoidal space, the new annex boasts integrated floor-to-ceiling glass walls and gracious gallery interiors to house Balenciaga’s fashions.

      Finally, you will make a 1-hour return drive to your ship.

      • This excursion involves some walking and some steps. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes and protect yourself from the sun. This tour is a private visit and it is limited to 20 participants.

      75 €
    7. Tram tour of Porto

      • Port of call : Leixões - Porto
      • Length : 4h00

      From the pier, board your coach and start your drive to Porto.

      Once arriving, you will visit the Tramcar Museum and its collection of trams dating from 1871 till 1950’s. Built in 1992, the Tram Museum retraces the history of trams in Porto by means of a plethora of exhibits. One of the highlight is the tram number 22: the first tram operating on the Iberian Peninsula. Overall, the period of time covered by the exhibits starts in the second half of the 19th century, calling forth, at least for the nostalgic public, the atmosphere of those times when getting around was not necessarily a matter of speed.

      Then, you will get inside one of these historical trams and enjoy a ride through Porto main attractions. You will start at the museum, drive along riverside, go up till Carmo Church then continue passing through Porto main avenue (Aliados) where the town hall building is located. The tram will continue through the old town till the main shopping avenue (Santa Catarina), Batalha Square and finishing at Guindais Funicular near the cathedral.

      The Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto in Portuguese) is the most important religious edifice in the city and has been declared a National Monument. The construction of the cathedral began during the 12th century, but it was rebuilt and renovated numerous times throughout the centuries. This explains why the cathedral is a blend of architectural styles. The temple is predominantly Baroque in style, although its façade and the nave are Romanesque and its cloister and one of the chapels are Gothic in style. Inside, the large pillars make the nave seem narrow with a high ceiling. It has a restrained decoration with bare walls and only the high altar and some of its chapels are decorated in a Baroque style.

      Finally, a short walk will take you to São Bento Train Station to admire its unique collection of white and blue glazed tiles before reaching your coach and your ship, after a 45-minute drive.

      • This tour involves moderate walking on both uneven and flat surfaces and includes several steps to negotiate. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes and protect yourself from the sun. The tour is not recommended for guests with limited mobility. The museum is divided between two floors without elevator. Appropriate clothing is recommended to enter religious sites: shoulders and knees must be covered. In case of religious services, the visit of the Cathedral will be an outside visit only.

      85 €
    8. Porto city tour & wine tasting

      • Port of call : Leixões - Porto
      • Length : 4h30

      From the pier, board your coach and start your 30-minute scenic drive to Porto.

      Once arriving, you will visit the Francis Church which is the most prominent Gothic monument in Porto and also noted for its outstanding Baroque inner decoration. Next, you will discover historical centre where you will enjoy a photo stop in front of imposing 12th century Cathedral Façade. This Cathedral is one of the city's oldest monuments and one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Portugal. You will end you visit passing by the Clérigos Tower and Porto main Avenue: Aliados.

      Then, you will drive to the Taylor’s wine cellar. Taylor’s is the archetypal Port house and its wines the quintessential Ports. Established over three centuries ago in 1692, Taylor’s is one of the oldest of the founding Port houses. It is dedicated entirely to the production of Port wine and in particular to its finest styles. Above all, Taylor’s is regarded as the benchmark for Vintage Port.

      Noted for their elegance and poise as well as for their restrained power and longevity, Taylor’s Vintage Ports are blended from the finest wines of the firm’s own quintas or estates, Vargellas, Terra Feita and Junco. These three iconic properties, each occupying a distinct geographic location and with their own unique character, are the cornerstone of the company’s success and the main source of its unique and inimitable house style.

      Taylor’s is also respected as a producer of wood aged ports and holds one of the largest reserves of rare cask aged wines from which its distinguished aged tawny Ports are drawn. The house is also known as the originator of Late Bottled Vintage, a style which the firm pioneered and of which it remains the leading producer. Based in Porto and the Douro Valley the family company is closely involved in all stages of the production of its Ports, from the planting of the vineyard and the cultivation of the grapes to the making, ageing, blending and bottling of the wines. The family’s commitment to the future of Port is demonstrated in its single-minded dedication to the highest standards in Port production, its continued investment in all aspects of the firm’s operations and its determination to preserve the unique environment of the Douro Valley through the promotion of sustainable and responsible viticulture.

      Following your visit and wine tasting, re board your coach to join your ship, 30-minute drive.

      • This tour involves moderate walking on both uneven and flat surfaces and includes several steps to negotiate inside the monuments and the wine cellar. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes and protect yourself from the sun. The tour is not recommended for guests with limited mobility. Appropriate clothing is required to enter religious sites: shoulders and knees must to be covered. The wine tasting is included on your tour. In case of religious services, the visit of the church will be an outside visit only.

      65 €
    9. La Rhune mountain train

      • Port of call : Saint-Jean-de-Luz
      • Length : 3h45

      From the pier, you will board your coach and leave the shore side to venture into the mountainous part of the Basque Country, 30-minute drive.

      La Rhune mountain, covered in dolmens, stone circles and other Neolithic monuments, was held to be a sacred place in the Basque mythology. Later on, considered as a ritual meeting place for witches, the mountain became, up until the 18th century, home to a hermit monk whose duty was to keep witches away and ensure good winds. 

      A few centuries later, the mountain became a notable smuggling route, especially for refugees during the Spanish Civil War and World War II.

      Only 905 meters high, La Rhune is today a popular site for walks and hikes, but is also known for its rack railway, the Petit Train de la Rhune. Built in 1924 and perfectly maintained, this train with wooden carriages will take you to the top of the Rhune mountain, where you will enjoy exceptional views from the 360° viewing terraces: from the French coast across the Pyrenees Mountain range, and out to the Spanish Northern coast, far reaching in all directions.

      Once arriving, you will have the choice between enjoy some free time or follow your guide during a short walking tour on the Rhune mountain.

      Finally, you will return to your ship, 30-minute drive. 

      • This excursion involves some walking time with some steps. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes and protect yourself from the sun. This tour is limited to 35 participants. La Rhune mountain train is not exclusive for Ponant’s guests. The train ride lasts 30 minutes on each way.

      75 €
    10. Exclusive visit of Château Smith Haut Lafitte

      • Port of call : Bordeaux
      • Length : 2h30

      Following a customised tour of the estate, you will visit the owners' private cellar, taste the estate's first wine, both white and red, and the young vines in red.

      Today, you will be invited a special confidential wine tasting at Pessac-Léognan Classified Great Growth Château Smith Haut Lafitte estate. This great growth owes its reputation as "the quintessential Graves" to its superb Günz gravel terroir in a single block. The estate's history dates back to the Crusades. The Scottish navigator Georges Smith acquired the château in the 18th century and Monsieur Duffour-Dubergier, a Mayor of Bordeaux from a famous family of negotiants, was a subsequent owner.

      Since its purchase by Florence and Daniel Cathiard in 1990, Smith Haut Lafitte has become one of the leading lights of Bordeaux thanks to its elegant, powerful red and white wines. In twenty years, the owners have not only brought the wine of Smith Haut Lafitte up to the very highest level, but also restored the château's 16th century tower, completely renovated two underground cellars, built their own cooperage, and introduced such organic methods as horse-drawn ploughing, home-made compost, the use of plant extracts, etc.

      Enchanted with this tasting of the finest wines of the Bordeaux wine region, historic cradle of the wine culture in the world, you will return to your ship.

       

      • This tour involves moderate walking on paved and pebbled terrain. You must negotiate various steps to visit the property and its wine cellars. We recommend you wear comfortable shoes. This tour is not recommended to guests with limited mobility or in a wheelchair. This tour is limited to 25 participants.

      130.00 €
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