Day 5 Jun26


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Day 5

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Libourne-St. Emilion-Blaye

7:30 am breakfast dining room Mirabelle Barge
Libourne is sunny and bright today and the river is sparkling. We’ve all slept well. The mood is anticipatory. Breakfast is buffet style with no set time but everyone is anxious to find out what the agenda is for the day so no one sleeps in. Every morning daily events are posted: activities, menus, wines.
LibourneStEmilionBlaye  55 miles/34 km travelled today

9 am – 12:30 pm visit Saint-Emilion go
St. Emilion is internationally known, both for its fine Bordeaux wine and as a medieval village. It is also a great start to our touring. A short bus ride takes us from the barge to this World Heritage site perched atop a hill on the right bank of the Garonne. Its fine wines are blends. With Merlot grapes being most prevalent, wines are drinkable at an earlier age. But we are not here to taste the wine.

We’ve come to see the village’s beautiful sandstone buildings and explore its history. Entering through remnants of 5’ thick stonewalls once protecting the inhabitants, we begin at the Tourist office. An entertaining, informative tour begins with the cloister that housed Augustinian monks during the 12th-15th centuries. Impressive is the mostly subterranean monolithic church constructed in the early 12th century. The 3 naves, and a small catacomb beneath, were dug into a rocky hillside by hand. The small ancient chapel has one central nave with painted murals which sadly, have begun to fade.

The village is overlooked by the Romanesque church and the iconic 13th-century Tour du Roy. A 53-meter-high bell-tower dominates the town, creating a visible landmark for arriving wine “pilgrims.” From the highpoint there are views of the distant alluvial plain leading to the river. This medieval village is a warren of cobblestone alleys and steep stairs, boutiques, small restaurants, wine shops and stores offering the paraphernalia of oenophilia – crystal decanters, corkscrews, crystal stemware. Retracing our steps we head back to our bus.

12:30 pm lunch Mirabelle dining room
At each meal we change dining partners – with this mingling eventually we’ll know everyone. Today’s menu:
concassé avocado and tomatoes – with shallots and basil
monkfish cheeks with spicy garlic – and rice pilaf
Norman tart
wines: • Cotes de Castillon – Château Goubau ‘La Source’ • Côteaux de Fronsac – Château Lariveau Rosé

Our first onboard lunch – as with all our meals –  prepared by kinda shy chef Xavier, who occasionally peeks out of the kitchen to gauge the collective vibe in the dining room. His preparations are regional country style, made with local products and very attractively presented.

2 – 6:30 pm cruise and navigation Libourne – Blaye go
We’re easing into the river cruising experience with this trip up the Dordogne River to the port of Blaye. The river is mild and the weather calm so passage is smooth. Some of us watch the riverbank views and take photos, others socialize, read, nap or check their e-mail. Very hard to unplug. Music plays in the lounge and all is mellow.

Pre-dinner aperitifs and snacks take the edge off our appetites. We clean up before dinner.

7:30 pm dinner Mirabelle dining room
eggs stuffed with crabmeat
veal blanquette  – and vegetable tagliatelles
cheeses: Munster, Bresse Bleu with fresh fruit
wines: • Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux – Château Beaumont les Pierrieres • Bordeaux – Château La Rose Vimière cuvée ‘Fûts’

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