I and my wife and 9 other friends took a cruise aboard the Oceania Marina around the Bay of Biscay. The ship’s itinerary started in Amsterdam, then to Dover in England, then Honfleur in France, then down the west coast of France, then the north coast of Spain, ending in Lisbon.
This route is not often offered by the cruise lines, but turned out to be quite good and enjoyable. We learnt many new things. For instance, the west coast of France is mostly flat marsh land. We enjoyed the fresh mussels in the smaller ports. In the city of LaRochelle, they had created many canals to controls the marshes, so the city looks like Venice, but the scenery is all green. We took a punted boat ride in these green canals.
The Bordeaux region is home to the Bordeaux wine. We visited several major wineries, including the Margaux. We saw the grapes for the cabernet sauvignon are actually quite small. We learnt that the vine tree is quite small and short, and that the older the tree the sweeter the grapes, with some of them 50 years old. We also learnt that the vineyards in the Bordeaux region in France, are never artificially irrigated. They depend purely on natural rainfall. The region is huge and flat with thousands of vineyards. The cost of the average bottle is 80 Euros, one third of the price in the USA. The ship could not dock at Biarritz because of rough seas, which is common in this region, and had to by-pass it. This was unfortunate, because the nearby town of San Sebastian is said to be very beautiful.