The launching pad for the cruise is the city of Bordeaux, a city built on rivers of wine. Romans started planting vines here in the first century AD, and the city evolved as one of the world's great trading hubs, thanks to the waterways leading to the Atlantic and beyond.
Just 500 kilometres southwest of Paris (and a little over two hours by fast train), Bordeaux has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, with a multimillion-euro urban redevelopment driven by the city's mayor, former French prime minister Alain Juppe.
In the past 20 years, the once dark, grime-covered 18th-century buildings have been cleaned, major traffic-jammed streets pedestrianised, a sleek, silent tram network installed, and the river banks cleared to create a four-kilometre riverside park. It's a romantic city in which to wander and get lost.
And then there's the world's largest reflecting pool, the riverside Miroir d'Eau, designed to reflect the majestic symmetry of the Place de la Bourse opposite. The Miroir's constantly bubbling fountains and mists of vapour derive from water, however, and not from cabernet sauvignon. Seems like a missed opportunity, Monsieur Juppe.