10 cool things to do on Bristol’s Harbourside

On a sunny afternoon in Bristol the harbourside is buzzing. Locals with an after-work pint in their hand spill out onto cafe terraces or soak up the sunshine with their legs dangling over the harbour wall. At the weekend families gravitate to the harbour, dipping into the free museums and galleries or watching the boats on the water, while the creative types hang out over brunch in one of the numerous cool cafes.

10 Cool things to do in Bristol Harbourside

Once the heart of Bristol’s industry and commerce, the harbour has been reinvented as the city’s playground. As a local of Bristol for over 20 years I’m here to take you on a walk around the Bristol’s harbourside to share some of the cool places that I enjoy. So let’s start at….

1. Millennium Square

Millennium Square in Bristol

Millennium Square in Bristol

Built in 2000 to celebrate the turn of the century, Millennium Square is a place to hang out, bring the kids for a picnic, watch sporting events on the big screen or move on to one of the many bars nearby for a drink with friends. The veg beds run by Edible Bristol are full of lavender, herbs, yellow sunflowers and a few miniature apple trees. Take a seat next to statues of Bristol’s literary figures like Thomas Chatterton and William Tyndall, not to mention Archibald Leach a.k.a the suave Hollywood star, Cary Grant who was born here.

Millenium Square in Bristol

Millenium Square in Bristol

Mobile getting a bit low? No problem! The energy tree has small solar panels at the end of its branches and there are USB points where you can plug in and recharge. On the other side of the square is a water fountain for you can fill up your bottle – all part of the initiatives that went into making Bristol a European Green Capital. Possibly the best loved spots in Millennium Square are the water features – shallow pools where children splash, pillars with water rippling down them and pools where it spills over the rim. On a sunny day they provide hours of good clean fun that won’t cost you a penny.

Where to Stay? For a modern base in the city with 24 hr reception check out Ibis Bristol Centre which is right on the square or for classic luxury, the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel is just a few minutes walk away on College Green.

And if you’re in Millennium Square with the family, why not pop into…

2. At Bristol Science Centre

This hands-on science centre is great for kids and teenagers, with handles to turn, buttons to press, things to build and something to see, smell, touch wherever you turn. On the ground floor it’s all about us and our bodies – test how high you can jump or fit your body’s organs into the body like a jigsaw puzzle. On the other side of the room you can turn the Heath-Robinson style water wheel or make a miniature parachute fly. There’s a whole area devoted to food and where it comes from – you can compare what a sumo wrestler and a farmer in the Andes eat for breakfast.

At Bristol Science Museum

At Bristol Science Museum

Upstairs a big section is all about animation, based on the Wallace and Gromit films created in the city by Aardman Animations. You can also blow giant bubbles and find out how astronauts wash in space, which leads us neatly into the shows in the Planetarium – that’s the big silver ball that you see outside in the square. Check out the At Bristol Website

From Millennium Square we’ll cross Pero’s bridge, with horn like weights that balance the bridge when it occasionally opens to let the large ships pass through. It’s named after the Pero, the slave servant of 18th century Bristol merchant John Pinney, who built a home just off Park Street that’s now open as the Georgian House.

Pero's Bridge in Bristol Harbour

Pero’s Bridge in Bristol Harbourside

Just before the bridge there’s a covered arcade of bars and restaurants where you’ll find the tourist information centre. Next door the Watershed Arts centre has an upstairs cafe that overlooks the water and is popular with creative entrepreneurs who hold informal meetings across their open Macbooks.

On the other side of Pero’s Bridge is a favourite place to catch the evening sun, sitting on the harbour wall with a drink in your hand. Bring your own or buy your drinks from The Grain House run by the YHA or the Arnolfini bar.

Sitting on Bristol's harbour wall

Sitting on Bristol’s harbour wall

Where to Stay: The Bristol started life as a motel and is actually a listed building for the 1960s concrete facade but inside the rooms are stylish and welcoming with fab harbour views. Those on a budget should check out the YHA Bristol with shared dorms and private rooms – you can’t get a better location for the price.

Once on this side of the harbour it’s worth a stop at…

3. Arnolfini Arts Centre

The Arnolfini is one of my favourite contemporary art centres, housed in one of the old stone warehouses and because it’s free I always like to pop in and see what’s going on. Once I saw a group of dancers twisting silently with only those wearing headphones hearing the music they were dancing to. Another time I hopped from one upturned log to another around a room filled with just a few inches of water. The ever changing exhibitions always provoke and question, but don’t expect to find pretty pictures in here. I often pop up to the second floor just for the pleasure of looking back down across the whole harbour at the window by the loos.

Arnolfini Art Gallery in Bristol

Arnolfini Art Gallery in Bristol

Out on the quayside sits John Cabot or Giovanni Caboto, a Genoese explorer who has given his name to a number of parks, towers and shopping centres across the city. In 1497 he sailed from Bristol in The Matthew, a surprisingly small ship to cross the Atlantic all the way to Newfoundland. The replica of the original ship now sits on the other side of the harbour – more of that later.

John Cabot statue in Bristol

John Cabot statue in Bristol

If you’re inclined you could turn left after the footbridge for a quick detour to Bathhurst Basin where there’s a small marina. It’s mainly a residential area but The Ostrich Inn, once a haunt of sailors and slave merchants, is a fine place to sit outside with a drink on a sunny day. The Michelin star restaurant Casamia recently moved here with the same team opening Pi shop next door serving gourmet pizza overlooking the water.

The Ostrich Pub in Bristol

The Ostrich Pub in Bristol

Where to Stay: The Mercure Holland House is a convenient 5 minute walk from this end of the harbour close to St Mary Redcliffe church, with modern rooms, an indoor pool and is well placed for Bristol Temple Mead.

Retracing your steps, our next recommended stop is the free museum at …

4. M-Shed

I have memories of when this old warehouse in Bristol’s docks was the Industrial Museum and once attended an amazing play about the life and times of the harbour where the doors onto the quayside revealed a banana boat which formed part of the performance.

M-shed in Bristol

M-shed in Bristol

Now M-shed is a fantastic free museum that shows off the varied, vibrant and multicultural life of Bristol through exhibits on the ground and first floor and special exhibitions on the second floor. The ground floor covers life in Bristol, our diverse neighbourhoods, transport and a taste of Bristol during the blitz. The vintage double decker bus is always popular with families climbing on board and if everyone seems to be gazing at the floor it’s because they are trying to find their own house on the street map of Bristol.

Inside M-shed in Bristol

Inside M-shed in Bristol

Upstairs on the first floor it’s all about the people of Bristol and the commerce of the city. See the metal tables or ‘nails’ where merchants did their business, leading the expression ‘Pay on the Nail’ and learn about Bristol’s slave trade on which the wealth of the city was built.

Cranes from the rooftop of M-Shed

Cranes from the rooftop of M-Shed

One of my favourite views is from the second floor balcony where you look out across the harbour and get a birds eye view of the cranes that are part of the museum’s industrial heritage. Sometimes you’ll hear them speak out and tell their story.

A little further along the quayside, you’ll find another part of Bristol’s history in …

5. The Matthew

I mentioned earlier about John Cabot, who Bristolians like to claim as their own but who was actually from Genoa and sailed to Newfoundland in his ship The Matthew. Sadly the original Matthew is no longer around, but a replica was made in 1997 to sail across to Newfoundland and mark the 500th anniversary of the original voyage. The ship is now based in Bristol harbour and if you see her moored close to M-Shed you can generally go on board and have a look around.

The Matthew in Bristol's harbourside

The Matthew in Bristol’s harbourside

It’s difficult to believe that a ship this small would have made it across the Atlantic – the life of a sailor in those days was certainly a pretty perilous and uncomfortable existence!  It’s free to go on board for a look around and they also run regular 1 hr sailings around the harbour as well as special fish & chips or afternoon tea trips. Check the Matthew website for upcoming events.

By now you may be ready for a stop at one of the many …

6. Cool coffee shops

Bristol Harbour abounds with places to stop for a coffee, snack, after work drink or delicious meal and there are plenty of independents that you won’t find on every high street. I’ve made a bit of a list below of all my favourites so that you can find a great place to stop wherever you are in your walk around the harbour. In the spirit of full disclosure I haven’t necessarily eaten at all of these but have selected those I would happily try based on their style, menu and reputation.

Spoke and Stringer in Bristol

Spoke and Stringer in Bristol

Around Millenium Square

The area immediately around the square is mostly the province of chain restaurants which are popular with the after work crowd for a beer and bite to eat. These are larger establishments and you’ll often find happy hour or other offers, so best to walk around and see what catches your fancy. I also like the upstairs cafe at The Watershed for lunchtime or early evening meetings as they serve tasty, healthy food and you won’t feel self-consious getting out your laptop, plus there’s a great view over the water.

Around Anolfini and M-shed

Arnolfini Cafe – The cafe for the free contemporary art gallery that I already mentioned serves coffee, cakes and sandwiches, salads and charcuterie platters. They have a section of tables by the water if you want to eat outside or grab an after work drink. Open 10am – 8pm

Mud Dock Cafe – I haven’t been here for a while but it’s best known for the cycle shop on the ground floor and roof terrace above that overlooks the harbour. It’s always packed on a sunny day, serving coffee, brunch, tapas from 10am-6pm then dinner until 10pm.

The Ostrich Inn – A taste of the old Bristol of sailors and pirates who frequented the inn in the 18th Century. Inside it’s traditionally atmospheric although the seating space isn’t huge, but comes into its own in the summer where there is loads of outdoor seating overlooking the water.

Pi Shop – The Michelin star Casamia restaurant recently moved to the new General development beside The Ostrich Inn, and they’ve also opened Pi Shop next door. Run by the same team it serves sourdough pizza made in a wood fired oven and home-made ice cream with a casual ‘Napoli meets Bristol’ feel and some outdoor tables overlooking the water.

From M-Shed to SS Great Britain

Just behind M-Shed is Wapping Wharf, which as I write is nearing completion with many of the restaurants now open. Once it’s all complete there will be even more food vendors operating out of shipping containers in the Cargo complex, but to tell you about what’s there already…

Pizzarova * – serving take-away pizza freshly made in their wood-fired oven in the shipping crate which you can eat on the tables outside or on the wooden benches just opposite beside M-Shed. I tried one of their pizzas which was good value, tasty and I liked their easy going approach of letting your choose whatever combination of toppings and the price is the same.

Wild Beer – If you’re looking for an after work or any time beer, the freshly opened Wild Beer offers around 20 draught beers from their own Somerset brewery among others, together with a connoisseur’s version of fish and chips.

Mokoko Bakery and Cafe * – serving an delicious selection of cakes and pastries with a few quiches to order with colourful salads. You can eat them inside, on the outdoor tables or buy to take away with an excellent coffee.

Better Food – It’s local, organic and ethical at Better Food which is half an enticing grocery store and half a cafe selling organic lunches, fresh juices and teas and coffees. In this and their other Bristol stores they stock local producers and artisans, to support a ‘shop local’ philosophy.

Brunel’s Buttery – a short walk along from Wapping Wharf is Brunel’s Buttery, the die-hard Bristolian’s favourite, serving steaming mugs of tea, bacon butties and cones of chips from a small brick kiosk halfway between M-Shed and SS Great Britain. All the seating is outside and the seagulls will swoop down for anything you don’t finish.

Food around Bristol Harbour

Clockwise from top left: Mokoko, Pickle, Spoke & Stringer, Pizzarova

Around Underfall Yard

The Cottage Inn – a local’s favourite on Baltic Wharf, this Victorian stone pub has an outdoor terrace by the water for a pint of local ale on a sunny evening accompanied by some classic pub grub.

Pickle Cafe at Underfall Yard * – One of my ‘new’ discoveries this small cafe is inside the Underfall Yard visitor centre and offers stylish breakfast specials and sandwiches, with a tempting selection of cakes and excellent coffee. There are a few tables inside but it’s mainly one to sit outside on a sunny day right beside the harbour.

Between Underfall Yard to Millennium Square

Spoke & Stringer *- Right opposite SS Great Britain (you can get the ferry across) this is possibly my favourite harbourside cafe. It’s connected to the shop next door selling lifestyle surf and bike gear, with a couple of Harley Davidson’s parked outside and a thriving Instagram account to hammer home the style credentials. The food (brunch dishes by day, pintxos by night) is both delicious and beautiful and it’s fun to be inside or outside – but outside is a real suntrap and you get the view of the SS Great Britain and harbour.

* The ones marked with a star are my personal tried and tested favourites

Now you’re fully refreshed, we’ll walk along the harbour to reach Bristol award winning harbourside attraction…

7. SS Great Britain

I love the stories behind the SS Great Britain. Launched in 1843 as the first iron steam ship it was designed by the great Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the man behind the Clifton Suspension Bridge and Temple Mead Station. The ship ended its days as a rusty hull in the Faulkland Islands and was brought back to Bristol in 1970 to start a lengthy restoration process on the journey to becoming the splendid visitor attraction, with all flags flying, that you see today.

SS Great Britain in Bristol

SS Great Britain in Bristol

If you start your tour below the water covered glass that surrounds the ship you can see the hull below the waterline and pass through the museum with plenty of interactive exhibits explaining the maritime history surrounding the ship. Once on board you’ll find out what life was like for the different classes of passengers who sailed in her. While the first class passengers enjoyed elegant dining, you’ll also see the cramped bunks in steerage that would have reeked of stale ale and sweaty laundry. The sights, sounds and even smells of life on board have been recreated, right down to the rats running around (luckily enclosed) and the cow on deck to provide fresh milk.

Go Aloft with SS Great Britain

Go Aloft with SS Great Britain

For the daring there’s the chance to Go Aloft in the ship’s latest activity where you climb up the rigging to the crow’s nest and then inch your way along the yard-arm – rather you than me! For more information check the SS Great Britain Website.

From here you can easily take a detour to Spike Island creative hub which provides a work and exhibition space for artists and small creative businesses. They often have exhibitions and the Spike Cafe serves organic dishes and drinks.

And there’s a Banksy too! It’s not so easy to find if you didn’t know it was there, but if you find your way to the streets at the back of SS Great Britain, you’ll find it off Hanover Place close to The Orchard Inn, painted on the back of the Dockside Studios. It’s actually marked on Google Maps. Search for Banksy’s ‘The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum’.

Banksy Girl with the pearl earing

Banksy Girl with the pearl earing

From here walk along the harbour-side path until you reach the end of the harbour and …

8. Underfall yard

The pumping station for the Bristol floating harbour is another authentic part of the city’s industrial heritage that has recently been restored to make a fascinating visitor attraction. It’s a working shipyard where beautiful wooden boats are brought to be work on – take a peep into the door of the big shed to see the hull of a ship taking shape.

Underfall Yard in Bristol

Underfall Yard in Bristol

The new visitor centre which is staffed with enthusiastic volunteers has a room sized map table of the harbour and hands on activities that show the engineering that went into keeping the harbour free of silt, so ships could enter and Bristol’s trade continue uninterrupted. Ask to have a demonstration of the Human Accumulator where you and your friends are lifted slowly up to provide enough force to turn the sluice paddle. The visitor centre also houses the highly recommended Pickle Cafe for coffee, cakes and sexy sandwiches with names like Hot Chick and Killer Courgette. More information on the Underfall Yard website.

You’ve made it to this far to the end of the floating harbour, so you may like to walk a little further to the Create Centre which is mainly open on weekdays. The centre features events and exhibitions related to the environment including a purpose built eco home to give practical ideas for greener living.

If you don’t fancy walking all the way back to Millennium Square you could take …

9. A Boat trip around Bristol Harbour

There are a few different options to get to around the harbour by water – it’s the original and best way after all. Bristol Ferry Boats provides a regular service throughout the day around once an hour, taking visitors and commuters from City steps at one end of the harbour (just beyond Pero’s bridge) to the Pump House at the other (by Underfall Yard). If you’ve just shlepped all the way along the route I’ve described and can’t face the walk back then getting the ferry by Underfall Yard (Nova Scotia stop) will save your legs.

Ferry in Bristol Harbour

Ferry in Bristol Harbour

They also run public trips around the Avon Gorge or along the River Avon that will give you an enjoyable few hours on the water spotting wildlife or seeing the harbour’s iron bridges and architectural features. Bristol Packet Boat trips run similar regular tours around the harbour and have a kiosk just beside SS Great Britain where you can see what’s on and buy tickets for their next trip.

Ferry in Bristol's Harbourside

Ferry in Bristol’s Harbourside

For a short ferry ride that crosses the harbour at a convenient point, hop on the 7 Boats ferry by SS Great Britain which takes you to the landing stage near Spoke and Stringer on the opposite side for 90p one way. No timetable – it just goes constantly back and forth so you’ll never wait long for the next one.

Walk along Bristol Harbour

Walk along Bristol Harbour

If you’ve taken the short cut by ferry from SS Great Britain to the other side, it’s not too far to walk back to Millennium Square, past a lovely reed bed which makes a habitat for ducks and other wildlife.

But if all this walking seemed a bit tame to you, perhaps you’d like to try…

10. An adventure out on the water

Stand up paddle boarding is the latest craze to reach Bristol harbour and you’ll often see a few people paddling around the harbour. SUP Bristol run regular weekeday evening and Saturday sessions where you’ll be shown how to paddle safely and spend a few hours having fun on the water.

Paddle Boarders in Bristol Harbour

Paddle Boarders in Bristol Harbour

If you’d rather try a canoe, The Adventurous Company offer guided trips around the harbour in an open Canadian style canoe that takes 2-3 people. Finally Cycle the City offer daily guided cycle tours around the harbour on a comfortable and stylish Pashley bicycle and also hire bikes (need to book in advance) from No 1 Harbourside which is by the Watershed and Tourist Information Centre.

So now we’ve made a circle around the harbour and are back where we started at Millennium Square. Of course it would be rash to suggest that you can do justice to all the places I’ve mentioned in one day. Instead I’d enjoy the walk and just stop at one or two that catch your imagination, fortifying yourself with a few coffee and lunch stops along the way. If you’d like to make a weekend of it and combine your day in the harbour with some of Bristol’s other fine neighbourhoods, my recommendations for places to stay are below.

Where to stay around Bristol’s Harbourside

I’ve mentioned all of these hotels in the article, but here they are again ranged from budget to luxury.

YHA Bristol – for budget travellers with shared dorms and private rooms – you can’t get a better location for the price.

Ibis Bristol Centre – a modern base in the city with 24 hr reception check right on Millenium Square.

The Bristol – started life as a motel and is actually a listed building for the 1960s concrete facade but inside the rooms are stylish and welcoming with fab harbour views.

Mercure Holland House – close to St Mary Redcliffe church, with modern rooms, an indoor pool and well placed for Bristol Temple Mead station.

Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel – classic luxury, a few minutes from the harbour on College Green.

Visitor Information for Bristol

For more information on what to do in Bristol and what’s on when you visit, check the Visit Bristol website

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This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Tasting the wines of Burgundy on a Uniworld River Cruise

We visited the Burgundy region of France as part of our Uniworld river cruise and despite the rain, I was excited to see row upon row of vines, as we were driven through some of the most famous wine villages in the Saone-et-Loire region of France.

Tasting the wines of Burgundy

First stop was the ancient fortified chateau in the village of Rully dating back to the 12th century with 32 hectares of vineyards, one third of which are Premiers Crus. Not only were we going to taste these fabulous wines but also to have lunch and a guided tour of the château with the owner.

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy Heatheronhertravels.com

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy

The château and the vineyards are owned by the Comte de Ternay, whose family has lived here continuously for 22 generations. That period of time means that this family has been in this château and most probably producing great wine since the 12th century.

The Château is located on the side of a hill, facing the plain leading to the River Saône. The square keep was built during the 12th century with a dry ditch around the château to reinforce the defence. Later the fortress became a manor house and in the 18th century the outbuildings, the great and lower courtyards were created.

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy Heatheronhertravels.com

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy

We learned that this ditch was later filled in because the Count’s grandfather fell in it one night and decided that it’s time had come. History does not record why he fell in it but I’d like to think it had something to do with (too much) wine! There is now a very tasteful dining room and a wine tasting cellar full of ancient barrels some of which have been converted to tables.

The Comte de Ternay, met us from our Uniworld luxury coach, an affable chap looking slightly frazzled. He explained that this was due to the obvious presence of three small boys who he refered to affectionately as his monsters. It was lovely to see that the same family has more children and that they do not see their château as a museum but a family home with a business attached. We felt lucky to be here knowing that this was a special place with no pretension whatsoever.

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy Heatheronhertravels.com

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy

The Count started his introduction with a quote from Benjamin Franklin.
“Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

However I prefer the Galileo’s words that my father often quotes before he enjoys a glass.
“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”

The region of Burgundy produces some of the most regal Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines in the world, with 100 different appelations and more than 3,000 individual producers. The Château de Rully vineyards are one of only 120 in the entire region of Burgundy which are owned by an individual. Around 80% of the wines made here are from the Chardonnay  grape vines which enjoy the limestone terroir and south-east exposure.

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy Heatheronhertravels.com

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy

We were invited to a dimly lit cellar underneath the 12th century keep. It was full of ancient barrels some of which had been turned into tables and with the wine we were served some delicious cheese puffs called gougères. We tried the Premier cru 1er Cru Clos de la Bressande Monopol, the Clos being a low wall surrounding the vineyard which helps the grapes ripen by protecting them from the wind. The Count told us that the Chardonnay grapes are picked by hand and not by machine and then they are sorted again on tables, so that only the finest grapes are used in making the wines.

Wine tasting in the kitchen at Chateau Rully in Burgundy

The wine had a floral nose with aromas of honey and orange blossom and an elegant oakiness. The Count told us that he loves drinking it with cold cuts of meat, fish or white meats and sauces and that it was particularly good with goat’s cheese. It really tastes like sunshine in a glass.

We then tasted the Appellation Village Rully Les Saint-Jacques Ouest which was a lower classification called a regional appellation. It was good too but there really was a difference and the Premier Cru was the one for me. It was delightful to be drinking such beautifully made wine while chatting to a man whose whole life is dedicated to the estate outside his sitting room window.

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy Heatheronhertravels.com

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy

After the tasting we moved back to the former stable block where a delicious lunch awaited us. Unsurprisingly we were served the local speciality, a classic Boeuf Bourguignon made with the château’s own red wine. This was accompanied by a potato gratin with a crispy topping of local cheese. For pudding there was an equally classic and simple apple tart. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

Lunch at Chateau de Rully Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lunch at Chateau de Rully in Burgundy

After lunch the Compte gave us a personal tour of the Chateau. There were some beautiful objects within the part of the house, but most interesting was that the Compte’s family have lived there since the 12th century and throughout that long time they have been producing and clearly enjoying the delicious wines. It was a remarkable day out that allowed us to connect with what it means to be part of the Burgundy wine region.

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy Heatheronhertravels.com

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully near Beaune in Burgundy

The visit to Chateau Rully was offered as an optional excursion as part of our Uniworld Cruise. The Chateau is also open for visits by appointment in July and August. For more information visit the Chateau Rully website.

This guest article is by Guy Cowper, who enjoys accompanying Heather on her blogging trips, especially where wine tasting is involved!

Travelling with Titan Travel and Uniworld Cruises

You can book your Uniworld Cruise through Titan Travel who specialise in escorted holidays and cruises. When you book through Titan Travel you enjoy their VIP Home Departure Service which is included in your holiday, to transfer from your home to your departure airport in one of Titan’s own vehicles.

Uniworld offer boutique river cruising on the rivers of Europe as well as other worldwide destinations. Like their sister company, Red Carnation Hotel Collection, the Uniworld ships feature luxurious furnishings and artworks with outstanding, personalised service.

Heather and Guy travelled on Uniworld’s Burgundy and Provence River Cruise through Titan Travel, on an 8 day cruise from Lyon to Avignon, from £2049 per person. As with all Uniworld cruises, the holiday is all-inclusive and covers meals and drinks on board, daily excursions, gratuities and airport transfers.

Thanks to Titan Travel and Uniworld for hosting our cruise.

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12 culinary highlights of our Burgundy & Provence river cruise

From Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France, to the Mediterannean flavours of Provence, our river cruise with Uniworld and Titan Travel took us through some of the best wine growing and food tasting regions of France. We found world class Burgundy wines, tasted both gourmet and authentically home cooked dishes and brought home a few sweet treats and piquant souvenirs. We enjoyed fabulous food on board the SS Catherine too, reflecting the local flavours of the Rhone valley we were passing through. Here are some of the culinary highlights of our Burgundy and Provence Uniworld Cruise that will make you want to discover this part of France for yourself.

Culinary highlights from Burgundy & Provence Heatheronhertravels.com

The elegant taste of Lyon at Institut Paul Bocuse

Paul Bocuse is the godfather of gastronomy in Lyon, the much revered local chef, who at the age of 90 has maintained 3 Michelin stars at his luxury restaurant for the last 50 years. One of the special Uniworld excursions took us to the Institut Paul Bocuse, the school of cookery founded by the chef, who also runs a hotel and several other restaurants around the city. Here we were treated to a demonstration of some classic Lyonaise dishes, expertly created before us by top chef, Philippe Jousse.

Institute Paul Bocuse Heatheronhertravels.com

Cookery lesson at Institute Paul Bocuse

Under Philippe’s culinary direction, we were encouraged to have a go at stirring, whisking and poaching the perfect egg for the Salade Lyonnaise. Of course we got away without having to do any of the washing up! At the end of the demonstration, we sat down to a delicious meal, although we could barely take any credit for it, of pike quenelles with crayfish sauce and a soft meringue set in vanilla custard topped with a delicate nest of spun sugar. It was a delightful introduction to the gourmet traditions of Lyon.

Lunch at Institut Paul Bocuse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lunch after our cookery lesson at Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon

The best quality produce at Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse

In the modern part of the city we wandered around Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, the food market named after the chef that is packed full of delicious speciality produce. We drooled over everything from cheeses to oysters, chocolates to fois gras macarons (yes really!) and in various corners found small restaurants serving the produce of the market. As our Uniworld guide explained, this market sells only the very best of everything and it’s the sort of place you go shopping when you are hoping to impress your mother-in-law who is coming to dinner.

Les Halles Paul Bocuse Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Les Halles Paul Bocuse in Lyon

Authentic home cooking at a Bouchon Lyonnais

For cuisine in Lyon that’s less Michelin star and more salt of the earth, look out for the homely restaurants known as Bouchon Lyonnais in the old quarter of Lyon. You’ll recognise these restaurants by the sign with the puppet Gnafron, who is a well known comic character in Lyon, similar to the Punch and Judy puppets that we might see at the seaside.

Bouchon Lyonnaise Heatheronhertravels.com

The sign for a Bouchon Lyonnaise restaurant

The restaurants serve typical Lyonnaise cooking, specialising in meaty dishes, where andouillette sausages and offal feature heavily. You’ll recognise them by the old fashioned feel with mismatched wooden chairs, red check table cloths, and dusty old pictures on the wall.

Bouchon Lyonnaise Heatheronhertravels.com

A Bouchon Lyonnaise restaurant in Lyon

Wine tasting at a Burgundy Chateau – Chateau de Rully

A wine tasting in a a local vineyard is certainly part of the Burgundy experience and at Chateau de Rully we were guided through a tasting by the Compte de Ternay whose family had run this vineyard for 22 generations. In the cool cellar we were able to compare two of the Chateau de Rully white chardonnays, the Appellation Village and Premier Cru wines. No surprise that the Premier Cru with aromas of honey and orange blossom came out top.

Wine tasting at Chateau Rully Heatheronhertravels.com

The vineyards at Chateau de Rully in Burgundy

The final tasting of red wine was left to try at our lunch in one of the converted chateau outbuildings where we dined on the classic local dish, a hearty boeuf bourgignon made with the chateau’s own red wine. Although the meal was simple home-cooked fare, we really enjoyed being invited into the Count’s home and hearing the stories of his family who have lived here and worked these vineyards for centuries. You can visit Chateau de Rully on open days in July and August – more details on their website.

Boeuf Bourgignon Heatheronhertravels.com

Boeuf Bourgignon, the classic local dish

A Wine tasting class at Chapoutier in Tain Hermitage

For a more structured wine tasting experience we stopped at M.Chapoutier in Tain-Hermitage, one of the leading wine producers responsible for great wines such as Chateauneuf du Pape and Crozes Hermitage. They allow informal tastings in the wine shop but we had the full experience upstairs in one of their classrooms. Interesting that the Syrah which is a typical grape of the region was quite different to the wines we normally buy from Australia and we found it light and acidic. I’m afraid it was not our favourite although the fresh whites, made from the Viognier grape, slipped down nicely! Visit the Chapoutier website for more information.

Wine tasting at Chapoutier Heatheronhertravels.com

Wine tasting at Chapoutier in Tain-Hermitage

The delicious food on our Uniworld cruise

One of the delights of the food on our Uniworld river cruise was the local flavours that were incorporated into our daily menus, in the Regional Highlights section, such as roasted chicken with morel mushroom sauce or roast rack of lamb with a crust of herbs, garlic and olives from Provence. The wines were beautifully matched too, from the regions of Burgundy that we were passing through and each evening our sommelier would talk us through the food and wine pairings before dinner. On prominent display was also the cookery book by Uniworld owner Mrs Bea Tollman, who had collected her favourite recipes from a lifetime as a hotelier and some of these featured on each day’s menu.

Dinner with Uniworld Cruises Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dinner on our Uniworld Cruise

All the dishes were beautifully cooked and presented, with a daily Vegetarian menu and a low calorie ‘Traveling Lite’ selection, providing something for all tastes. A real treat was the afternoon tea laid out in the Van Gough salon where we inevitably made a beeline for the delicious macarons, which were impossible to resist.

Lunch on our Uniworld Cruise Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Lunch on our Uniworld Cruise

Sweet treats to bring home – Les Anis de Flavigny

Although I try not to weigh myself down with too many purchases when I travel, I do enjoy scouting out local food specialities to bring home as souvenirs. In Beaune we spotted the delightful Anis de Flavigny. These locally made sweets are packed in pretty little tins with a vintage feel, like something your French grandmother might pull out of her apron pocket to give you as a child. They are made with a tiny seed of anis at the centre which is covered with a hard candy coating in ten different flavours such as violet, lemon and rose. We bought a few tins in Beaune, but they didn’t last long once we got back home. You can read more about them on the Anis de Flavigny website.

Les Anis de Flavigny at Beaune Heatheronhertravels.com

Les Anis de Flavigny at Beaune

The piquant Moutarde de Beaune

You’ll have heard of Dijon mustard, but look out for the traditional Burgundy mustards made by Edmond Fallot. The company are reintroducing the production of mustard seeds to Burgundy, since most are now imported from abroad, to make a completely Burgundian product. We bought a jar of their Moutard de Beune which is made with wine rather than vinegar and had a smooth but piquant flavour. You can visit their museum and factory in Beaune for a tasting and find out more on the Fallot website.

Mustard at Beaune Heatheronhertravels.com

Mustard at Beaune

An aperitif made of Creme de Cassis

You’ll see many varieties of Creme de Cassis on sale in Burgundy as well as other fruit flavoured syrups and liqeurs. The Creme de Cassis is made from blackcurrants soaked in alcohol and often drunk as an aperitif; a Kir mixed with sparkling white wine or Kir Royale with champagne. Just like wine, the liqueur has a regional designation so you may see the labels marked with Creme de Cassis de Dijon or Cassis de Bourgogne which is made with the local Burgundy variety of blackcurrants. We enjoyed a glass of Kir on board SS Catherine as an aperitif before dinner on one of the special dining evenings that showcased the local cuisine.

Creme de cassis at Beaune Heatheronhertravels.com

Creme de cassis at Beaune

Chocoholic’s delight – the Valrhona Cité du Chocolat

On our Uniworld cruise we stopped at Tournon-sur-Rhone and Tain-l’Hermitage, both historic wine towns on opposite sides of the Rhone. The final stop of our walking tour was the Valrhona Cité du Chocolat where they have a discovery centre and extensive gift shop. The best part of the visit was tasting the many different samples laid out in bowls around the shop so you could try the different flavours before buying. Valrhona was a chocoholic’s dream, with counters of chocolate truffles, bars of single variety chocolate as well as chocolate for drinking and cooking. Needless to say almost everyone came out with a bag full of chocolate to take home. Find out more on the Valrhona website.

Valrhona chocolate Heatheronhertravels.com

Valrhona chocolate

The rosé wines of Provence

As our Uniworld river cruise took us further south the white chardonnays of Burgundy gave way to the light and easy-drinking rosé wines that are the summer drink of choice in Provence. We were offered them first as an aperitif together with local pâté and charcuterie at the end of our walking tour of Viviers in the rose filled garden of our guide who lived in one of the old town houses.

Rose wine Heatheronhertravels.com

Drinking the Rosé wine of Provence in our guide’s garden

Soon I started to see the rosé wines everywhere, as if to mark the start of summer.  Apparently the majority of the wines produced in this south-east corner of France are rosé, with plenty of sunshine and the mistral wind blowing in from the north to dry the vines and clear the air. The rosé colour is created when the red grapes are pressed and the skins left in contact with the juice for just a few hours, allowing the pale pink colour to develop.

Rose wine Heatheronhertravels.com

Rose wine

The Olives of Provence

Another typical produce of Provence are the lovely plump olives that we found in so many varieties in Les Halles, the food market of Avignon. Of course there were other things there too;  fresh fish on ice, beautifully polished tomatoes, pink radishes, asparagus and frisée salads, the ready prepared traiteur dishes to buy and take home and macarons flavoured with kiwi or framboise. But the olives were the star, in red and green glistening piles, studded with red peppers or golden onions, stuffed with anchovies and pimentos.

Les Halles in Avignon Heatheronhertravels.com

Olives on sale in Les Halles in Avignon

Another olive based speciality that you’ll find everywhere in Provence is tapenade, a paste made of finely chopped olives, both green and black. The olives are pulverised in a pestle and mortar, sometimes combined with anchovies or capers and served on rounds of baguette as a canapé with your glass of rosé. The tapenade is served in restaurants and bars, but you’ll also find jars that you can buy to eat at home, for a reminder of the sunshine of the Mediterranean and Provence.

Tapenade of Provence on sale in Avignon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tapenade of Provence on sale in Avignon

Our river journey with Uniworld and Titan Travel ended at Avignon but there were so many delicious things to eat and drink that we could happily have continued our exploration of the food of Southern France. I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for many more delicious food discoveries on your travels.

Have you visited Burgundy and Provence or the South of France and what were your culinary highlights?

More from our Burgundy and Provence Cruise

10 things to expect on a river cruise with Uniworld
Titan Travel Blog: Burgundy and France Cruise with Heatheronhertravels

Travelling with Titan Travel and Uniworld Cruises

Uniworld offer boutique river cruising on the rivers of Europe as well as other worldwide destinations. Like their sister company, Red Carnation Hotel Collection, the Uniworld ships feature luxurious furnishings and artworks with outstanding, personalised service.

You can book your Uniworld Cruise through Titan Travel who specialise in escorted holidays and cruises. When you book through Titan Travel you enjoy their VIP Home Departure Service which is included in your holiday, to transfer from your home to your departure airport in one of Titan’s own vehicles.

Heather and Guy travelled on Uniworld’s Burgundy and Provence River Cruise through Titan Travel, on an 8 day cruise from Lyon to Avignon, from £2049 per person. As with all Uniworld cruises, the holiday is all-inclusive and covers meals and drinks on board, daily excursions, gratuities and airport transfers.

Thanks to Titan Travel and Uniworld for hosting our cruise.

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Read about the culinary delights of our Burgundy & Provence cruise with Uniworld

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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