A cruise on the Dordogne River travels from Libourne to Bergerac in Southwestern France. That’s only a part of the package, though. The Garonne River and the Gironde Estuary are also featured on river cruises in this region of France. So, you’ll travel along three different waterways.
The city of Bordeaux is often mentioned for river cruises in this region. It's a city you’ll visit if you take a cruise on the Dordogne River. Bordeaux sits on the Garonne River just south of the Gironde Estuary. The estuary is formed where the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers meet.
Cruises on the Dordogne River are an average of eight days long. While it’s not necessarily a new area to cruise, it has become increasingly popular over the past one to two years. There are quite a few suppliers that offer cruises on the Dordogne River.
Although, you won’t really find traditional day or evening cruises on this river, you can take a trip on a glass-bottom boat.
Canoeing and Kayaking on the Dordogne is also a popular activity.
Dordogne River in Libourne, France
The Dordogne River begins in Puy de Sancy, which is located in south central France in the Massif Central. It’s formed by two streams called the Dore and the Dogne just above the town of Mont-Dore.
Flowing in a westerly direction for about 300 miles, the Dordogne meets the Garonne River just past the city of Libourne. This is also where the 80-mile long Gironde Estuary is formed.
An interesting fact about the Dordogne River: It is one of the few rivers in the world that has a tidal bore, which forms a series of waves on the river. It occurs about every 12 hours on the river near Saint-Émilion and is a popular area for surfers.
As you travel along the Dordogne, you’ll visit Libourne, Saint-Émilion and Bergerac. This region of southwestern France is known for its vineyards and wines and also for its historic buildings.
The weather is very mild year-round. Summers are typically warm and dry with temperatures in the low 80s (Fahrenheit). During the winter months low temperatures rarely drop below freezing and average day time temperatures are about 50ºF.
Libourne and Saint-Émilion are located less than six miles apart. They are both small cities in terms of geographical size. Libourne is about 8 square miles, and Saint-Émilion is about 10.5 square miles. Libourne has a much denser population, though. The city has about 24,000 inhabitants, while Saint-Émilion has only about 2,100.
Libourne is located at the confluence of the Isle and Dordogne Rivers. The city produces most of the wine in the Gironde Department of Aquitaine.
Saint-Émilion is also known for its wine productions and is one of the main red wine areas of Bordeaux. The city was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Town of St. Emilion
The other city you’ll visit is located about 50 miles east of Libourne. Bergerac is the largest of the three cities. It’s about 22 square miles and has a population of close to 28,000.
It’s a town that’s also about wine. In addition to its vineyards, there are other sites related to its wine-growing industy - the Musee du Vin et da la Batellerie is an old wine museum with vintage wine equipment, and the Maison de Vins is an exhibition that details the history of Bergerac wines.
Many of the major river cruise suppliers offer packages on the Dordogne River, including CroisiEurope, Grand Circle Cruise Line, Scenic Tours, Shearings, Uniworld, and Viking River Cruises.
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