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The Bordeaux region in France brings to mind visions of winding country sides…and of course robust red wines. While known for its vineyards, the region in southwest France also offers picturesque towns, beautiful coastlines, and impressive architectural gems. Need more inspiration? Here are eight reasons to visit the famous French region:

Le Médoc

  1. Pack and Unpack Only Once:  Unlike a land tour, a river cruise will take you from town to town throughout the Bordeaux and Medoc regions on a river boat, with a new port and a new adventure each day.  You’ll relax while the river sweeps you to your next destination.
  2. La Cité du Vin:  Opened in May 2016 in Bordeaux, this modern building – reminiscent of a lighthouse on the banks of the Garonne – is a unique invitation to travel to the heart of wine country and the traditions that it holds. As you enter the Cité du Vin you will enjoy a self-guided tour punctuated by 20 themed spaces explaining the culture of wine in an immersive, sensorial setting. The grand finale of your visit will bring you to the upper level for a gorgeous 360° view of Bordeaux and a complimentary glass of wine.
  3. Experience Joie de Vivre on the Sun Deck:  The confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers into the Gironde Estuary create beautiful landscapes of picturesque villages, sweeping vineyards, and striking coastlines.  Enjoy the sights while sipping Champagne from the sundeck.
  4. Grands Crus of the Medoc:  A trip to Bordeaux is not complete without a visit to some of the famous wineries that call this region home.  Sample wines from the finest terroir on earth and learn how these world-famous wines are made – from grapes to glass.
  5. Breathtaking Views at the Arcachon Bay:  From atop the great Dune of Pilat, in the Arcachon Bay area, there’s a sweeping view across the bay to the north, the Atlantic to the west, and the Medoc to the southeast.  If oysters are your thing, you’ll enjoy a tasting at a local restaurant before returning to the ship.
  6. Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Saint Emilion’s Underground:  The name Saint Emilion goes hand and hand with Merlot grapes and world-class wines, but this medieval village has so more to offer.  Step inside the biggest monolithic church in Europe – right from the town square, a single piece of limestone was carved into a massive church.  You can explore the cavernous space, the hallways below ground, or take a trip to the bell tower.
  7. Hiking in the Hillsides of Cadillac:  From the riverside town of Cadillac, France, take a tour on foot to the surrounding hillsides as buildings give way to fields and vast vineyards.  After walking, you’ll stop at a family farm to try some local favorites and, of course, a glass of wine.
  8. Enjoy a French Meal: A typical CroisiEurope meal is a typical French meal:  Refined cuisine, convivial atmosphere, and exciting desserts.  Even lunches on board are special – a break from the days’ activity and exploration for multi-course dining.  Reminisce about the morning’s excursions over some local cheese, enjoy some ratatouille, and compare the bouquet of unlimited French wines paired with each meal.

France-Gironde-Garonne-Bordeaux-cite-du-vin06-84866©Cite du vin

Established in 1976, CroisiEurope has been a leader in offering the best value in all-inclusive river cruising for the last 41 years. Based in Strasbourg, France, CroisiEurope is headquartered at the epicenter of Europe with offices in Brussels, Paris, Lyon, Nice, Lausanne, Madrid, London, Phnom Penh and New York.  This family-owned company operates 50 ships and a diverse selection of canal, river and ocean cruise sailings that navigate the most famous waterways in Europe, Asia, Russia, South America and now South Africa. Choose from a variety of itineraries from 4 to 26 days and explore picturesque riverside cities & towns in France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy & Spain. Or visit the international destinations along the Mediterranean coast, Vietnam, Cambodia or South Africa.

www.CroisiEuropeRiverCruises.com


 

Japan was named one of the top five “hot” destinations for 2018 in the USTOA’s annual survey of travel forecasts and trends, and for good reason: It’s captivating contrast of timeless traditions and modern life, along with its diverse natural landscapes, accommodates every type of travel interest. Whether it’s hiking along trails to hidden temples or indulging in authentic local dishes, Japan’s wide range of experiences will have even the most jaded travelers intrigued.

The tour operator members of USTOA offer a wide range of packaged travel options to Japan – from adventure and family to spiritual and culinary programs – that provide insights and access unavailable to the average travelers. Here is just a sample:

 

For the Adventurer:

1657ASIA2017Credit: Contiki

Japan is home to the world-class winter sports paradise of Hakuba. With Contiki’s new “Japan Winter Wonder Plus Six-Day Ski” itinerary travelers can visit Japan’s iconic sites and cities then hit the slopes in the Hakuba Valley. During this unescorted six-day add-on, guests can ski, snowboard, or even mountain glide before relaxing in a steamy onsen. Available on select departure dates through April 2019 from $3,815 per person. www.contiki.com

CountryWalkers.Japan.LunchWithViewCredit: Country Walkers

Hike through the whispering cypress forests of the Kii Peninsula, wander through Kumano Kodo – a UNESCO World Heritage site, and meet a yamabushi priest to learn the tenets of martial-arts training on Country Walkers’ eight-day “Japan: Kyoto, Nara and Kumano Kodo” tour. Guests will journey from two to six miles daily through the traditional neighborhoods of Kyoto. Available on select departure dates through September 2019 starting at $6,998 per person/double occupancy. www.countrywalkers.com

Intrepid Travel’s new 14-day “Cycle Japan” adventure takes a new spin on traditional walking tours. Cycle between six to fifty miles each day from Osaka to Tokyo, and discover Noto Peninsula’s coastlines, rice paddles, and endless farmland. Visit iconic sites, such as the Nagarebashi Bridge, a 356 metre wooden bridge and one of the longest wooden bridges in Japan. Available on select departure dates from July 2018 to November 2019 starting at $4,857 per person.  www.intrepidtravel.com

0924ZT_0201CR.RTDCredit: Adventures by Disney

Discover the ancient sport of sumo wrestling, bike through the farms and rice fields of Japan’s countryside, and traverse the rapids of Hozugawa River on a two-hour river boat ride on Adventures by Disney’s new “Journey to The Land of the Rising Sun” 11-day itinerary. Families will have the option to enhance their adventure and add a post-trip vacation package that provides a stay, special experiences, and access at Tokyo Disney Resort. Available on select departure dates through October 2019 from $10,699 per adult and $10,159 per child. www.adventuresbydisney.com

 

For the Culturally Curious:

Abercrombie & Kent’s “Classic Japan” trip is available on select departure dates through October 2018, and lets guests be among the few to stay at Gôra Kadan, one of Japan’s most exclusive traditional inns, enjoy an exclusive kaiseki banquet with entertainment by a geisha, as well as learn about the country’s past and present at the Samurai Museum in Tokyo. Pricing from $10,495 per person. www.abercrombiekent.com

Golden Pavilion - Kyoto, Japan_CVOCredit: Collette 

From stenciling and gold leaf classes, to a traditional kaiseki dinner with a geisha show in Kyoto, Collette’s new “Cultural Treasures of Japan” trip immerses travelers in Japanese culture and everyday life. The 14-day journey also includes a trip along the Hakone Ropeway for goliath views of Mt. Fuji, a visit to Miyajima, “Shrine Island” and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum, and many more culturally significant stops.  Available on select departure dates through April 2019 from $4,499 per person. www.gocollette.com

Goway Travel’s “Explore Japan,” an intimate small-group guided tour, covers four distinct regions over twelve days. Explore extensively on foot and discover stunning sites like the Ryoanji Zen garden, Himeji Castle, and Miyajima Island. Available throughout 2018 and 2019 from $5,395 per person. www.goway.com

credit go-today -shutterstock_403209976-Kiyomizu-dera-TempleCredit: go-today 

Explore serene beauty in the ancient city of Kyoto and delve into the bustling capital city of Tokyo on go-today’s “Tokyo & Kyoto” itinerary. Discover modern architecture, historic monuments, antique markets, and Buddhism folk art during this six-day trip. Available on select departure dates through September 2018 and December 2018 starting at $1,649 per person/ double occupancy. www.go-today.com

Affordable World’s eight-day “Japan Discovery” tour begins in the city of Tokyo to visit legendary sites, such as Asakusa, the Senso-Ji Temple, Mount Fuji, Nijo Castle, Tsukiji Market, and Todaji Temple. Available on select departure dates through April 2019 from $1,599 per person/ double occupancy. www.affordableworld.com

AS Mount Fuji_2156310Credit: Insider Journeys

Insider Journeys’ “Secrets of Japan” trip is available on select departures through December 2019, and lets guest stay at a traditional inn near Mt Fuji at Hakone, and then journey the Old Town of Takayama, and discover Geisha culture in Kanazawa and Kyoto. Pricing from $7,245 per person. www.insider-journeys.com

geisha girls shot from the back_501653Credit: Insider Journeys

Travel in luxurious comfort on Luxury Gold’s new Majestic Japan” 11-day itinerary. Enjoy a private cruise along the Matsushima Bay, spend an evening of leisure with an in-house massage, and witness a private musical performance of traditional Japanese guitar and drumming. Destinations covered include Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hachinohe, Oirase Gorge, Sendai, and Katsurashima Island. Departures are available from July to November 2018, starting at $8,050 per person. www.luxurygoldvacations.com

 

For the Nature Lover:

Cherry blossoms up close, Japan_CVOCredit: Collette

Springtime beauty blends with ancient history and cutting-edge culture on EF Go Ahead Tours’ “Cherry Blossoms in Japan: Tokyo to Kyoto” itinerary. Wander through the shrine’s Inner Garden, home to irises that bloom in springtime, and take-in surreal views of Mount Fuji and the cherry blossoms that gather throughout Tokyo. This 10-day journey is available on March 22, 2019 starting at $3,829 per person. www.goaheadtours.com

Alexander + Roberts’ “From Japan’s Inland Sea to the Alps” itinerary explores the country’s many natural wonders. Explorers will journey across the island-dotted Seto Inland Sea to Miyajima Island, learn about the ancient tenets of Japanese landscape at Kenrokuen, and travel to the rural mountain hamlet of Shirakawago – one of Japan’s most scenic and historic alpine regions. Departure dates are available on select dates through April 2020 from from $7,599 per person/ double occupancy. www.alexanderroberts.com

credit go-today- shutterstock_1017749740-cherry-blossom-riverCredit: go-today

Join SITA World Tours’ “Cherry Blossom Tour” to experience the breathtaking landscapes of Japan. The nine-day trip includes a visit to the Golden Pavilion, the colorful Kasuga Shrine, and include live demonstrations on the basics of how to wear a kimono. Travelers will also embark on a private Cherry Blossom viewing tour to Kiyomizu Temple and Maruyama Park, regarded as famous locations for viewing Cherry Blossoms in full bloom. Departures are available on March 25 to April 15, 2019 from $4,675 per person/ double occupancy. www.sitatours.com

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Ritz Tours’ is offering travelers $75 off its “Jewels of Japan” itinerary in time to enjoy autumn in the East. The eight-night trip crosses the countryside on a bullet train past Mt. Fuji, which is surrounded by red, orange and yellow fall foliage. Travelers also will walk through Kyoto, home to eight UNESCO World Heritage-listed temples. Departures are available on September 6, October 18, November 8 and 29, 2018 from $2,825 per person. Use code USTOARAJ to save $75. www.ritztours.com

 

For the Epicurean:

TasteOfJapan_SushiPreparation PHOTO CREDIT Avanti Destinations- rsCredit: Tauck

On Tauck’s “Essence of Japan” itinerary travelers will taste and sip their way through Japan. The 13-day trip includes a visit to a sake distillery, a private tea ceremony, and hands-on sushi and miso demonstrations. The trip also will give guests the chance to visit the Tsukiji market in Tokyo, regarded as the oldest and largest fish market in the world. Departures are available from August to November 2018 from $10,290 per person. www.tauck.com

Pack your chopsticks! Avanti Destinations’ new “Taste of Japan” nine-day food tour will tantalize taste buds. The trip includes a visit to the underground foodie treasure trove that is depachika (food hall), a hands-on sushi making class at a local home, and private afternoon tea with a geisha. Eat fresh-off-the-boat, and add on a visit to the infamous Tsukiji Fish Market. The add-on is available for $349 per person. The tour is available year-round and starts at $4,749 per person/double occupancy (land-only). www.avantidestinations.com

photo credit - TostphotoShutterstock- shutterstock_261048551Credit: Zegrahm Expeditions

Travel with an appetite on Zegrahm Expeditions’ “Imperial Japan” 12-day adventure. Visit the bustling Miyagawa Morning Market, delight in an egg boiled in the volcanic hot springs, and a walk through 200 stalls bursting with fresh produce and seafood in the nearly 300-year-old Omicho Market. This trip also includes a flexible travel dining plan that allows guests to dine with no limits on the price of a meal or dining locations. Available on select departures in April, May, and October 2019 starting at $13,490 per person/ double occupancy. www.zegrahm.com

photo credit- JNTO-CulinaryCredit: Pleasant Holidays/ Journese

Join Journese’s “A Taste of Japan” itinerary to experience distinctive delicacies and exceptional dining experiences throughout Tokyo and Kyoto. Excursions The nine-day itinerary includes a private dining Japanese course-style dinner at Teppan Mizuki restaurant, a traditional Buddhist vegetarian lunch on the Tenryuji Temple’s grounds, and a sampling of traditional flavors from the ancient Edo period, such as charcoal broiled eel. Departures are available on various dates throughout 2018 and 2019. Visit www.journese.com for pricing information.

 

For the Spiritual:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACredit: Trafalgar

On Trafalgar’s “Spiritual Japan” tour, guests can retrace the steps of the ancients with some of Japan’s most sacred places. The trip features visits to the Nachi Taisha Shrine, the Seiganotoji Temple and the tallest waterfall in Japan, Nachi waterfall. Guests can also visit the birthplace of Shingon Buddism and delight in vegetarian dishes served by local monks at their monastery lodgings. This nine-day spiritual journey is available from $4,550 per person in October 2018. www.trafalgar.com

Find more trips to Japan using USTOA’s “Find Your Dream Vacation” section at https://ustoa.com/dream-vacation/.

 

Editor’s Note: Information was correct at time of writing. All tours/packages subject to availability. Prices may vary from time of writing, based on currency fluctuations.