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Harbors of Western France

from $2,191

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An impression of western France

Immerse yourself in all things French on this cruise along the Atlantic coast of France. Meander past the great wine regions, stopping at chateaux to taste Margaux and Muscadet, and to sample cider or cognac at point of origin. Explore the coastline that inspired the Impressionist painters; see chic Parisian summer retreats; visit medieval walled villages; and spot reminders of this region’s strategic significance during WWII in abandoned Nazi U-boat and submarine bases.

Inspiring experiences to enjoy… Visiting the Ile de Ré an exclusive summer resort, tasting Muscadet at the Château de Chasseloir, and seeing the townscapes and landscapes that inspired the Impressionist artists.

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Destination 1

Lorient, France

Lorient, France

This historic port in Brittany was once home to the East India Company, and served as a German U-boat base in World War II. You are spoiled for choice for things to see and do here; you can tour the town, visit the Museum of the Company of India, or explore the abandoned submarine base. Nearby you can see the megalithic site at Carnac, home to 3,000 standing stones, visit the wild Quiberon peninsular, and the medieval town of Quimper, known for its crêpes, locally-brewed cider and pottery. The medieval walled town of Concarneau, and the pretty village of Pont-Aven, which attracted artists such as Paul Gauguin, are also both within reach. 

Arrive 0700. Depart 1600.

Destination 2

Montoir, France

St Nazaire, France

Montoir acts as a gateway to St Nazaire and the western Loire. St Nazaire’s setting at the mouth of the Loire estuary has seen it play two important roles throughout history: first as a shipbuilding centre, then as a submarine base during World War II. You might like to join a cruise along the beautiful River Erdre. 

Arrive 0600. Depart 1800.

Destination 3

Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, France

This 18th-century, UNESCO-listed city sits at the centre of one of France's finest wine producing areas, and with a day-and-a-half here you’ll have plenty to do and see. You’ll be arriving on French National Day (the Storming of the Bastille anniversary) and there will be plenty of celebrations throughout the city, including fireworks. Bordeaux’s waterfront is lined with wine warehouses and along the quay lies an 18th-century square, home to the old Maritime Exchange. From here you can head out to the world famous Margaux wine district for a visit to one of Grand Cru Châteaux for a talk on the art of wine making, followed by a wine and cheese tasting. You can also venture into the Médoc, where some of the world’s most highly regarded wines are produced, for another château visit with wine tasting.

Arrive 1000 on July 14. Depart 2000 on July 15.

Destination 4

La Pallice (for La Rochelle), France

La Rochelle, France

Medieval streets bustle with life in the historic harbor town of La Rochelle, now a busy yachting port. Soak up the atmosphere or perhaps visit the island of Ile Ré, a chic summer retreat for the Parisian elite. Reaching it is half the fun as its lagoons and vineyards, dunes and pine forests are connected to the mainland by a two-mile long road bridge. 

Arrive 1000. Depart 1900.

Destination 5

La Havre (for Honfleur and Paris), France

Le Havre, France

A bustling port since the 16th century, Le Havre is the physical embodiment of architect Augusta Perret’s philosophy that “concrete is beautiful”. Explore its neat grid of low-slung buildings and wide-open spaces that frame the few architectural survivors of World War II. Such artists as Boudin and Monet favored this stretch of fashionable coast and you can see an outstanding collection of Impressionist paintings in the port’s Modern Art Museum of Malraux. Alternatively, head to La Côte Fleurie and the artistic enclave of Honfleur or further afield to Fécamp – known for its Benedictine liqueur – and the writers’ retreat of Etretat and its chalky cliffs. 

Arrive 0800. Depart 2100.

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