Bordeaux is situated 60 miles from the sea, but lucky for us, Silver Whisper was small enough to make it all the way to the city center and tie up along the quayside. It is extremely convenient to be able to step off the gangway and into the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage City as opposed to transferring by bus more from a ship docked more than 30 minutes away.
We started with a tour of the city, visiting the Chartrons river front, where the wine trade started; the Esplanade des Quinconces, one of Europe’s largest squares; and the 18th-century Place de la Bourse, with the misty Miroir d’eau reflecting the palace.
For more than two centuries, Bordeaux’s old town has been able to maintain its distinct classical and neoclassical architecture. The only new structure in the city on this day is Silver Whisper.
Stroll, skate, run or bike along the picturesque quayside or hop on a modern tram to the 18th-century old town free of cars. We walked and spent a couple hours enjoying the old town.
We walked the cobblestone streets, stopped for a break at one of the many sidewalk cafes. We skipped the fine museums, including the Musée d’Art Contemporain (Contemporary Art Museum), housed in a 19th-century spice warehouse, and the Musée d’Aquitaine, featuring exhibits that quickly familiarize you with Bordeaux’s history. One guidebook claims that the museum’s detailed prehistoric section could save you a trip to Lascaux. Lascaux’s Paleolithic cave paintings are reproduced in convincing detail at the museum.
When you’re here, you’ll no doubt want to see the 13th-century Cathedral of St. André, where you can climb the tower, tour Pey-Berland for stunning views of the city, and visit the Grand Théatre, built between 1773 and 1780. Step inside to admire the frescoed ceiling and the 14,000 Bohemian crystals that make up the large chandelier.
Still in the city center, we stopped at Maison du Vin to learn about wine before heading to the vineyards tomorrow. Maison du Vin is run by the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux), the authority on the Bordeaux wine trade. Tastings that are typically offered at Maison du Vin’s Wine Bar can help you decide which of the seven wine regions you want to visit.
Half an hour from the city center, Saint-Emilion is our destination on Sunday. We’ll be headed there on a Silversea shore excursion. But tonight we’re taking a table for two at the best restaurant in the city — La Terrazza on Silver Whisper — and arguably the best view you could ask for in beautiful Bordeaux.