Libourne: An English Port Bastide & Saint-Emilion: French Wine Capital


Part of Livourne across the river


The Viking Forseti on the Dordogne River at sunset

Libourne is a royal walled town known as a Bastide.  It was founded in 1270 at the request of King Henry III of England.  Try to understand that this part of France, the Aquitaine, was part of England in the 11th Century.  King Henry III put a lieutenant in charge of building the town, a Sir Roger de Leybourne. He was successful in building a really nice fortified city.

Located at the confluence of the Isle and the Dordogne rivers at the far end of the Gironde estuary, Libourne is the first shipping port on the Dordogne, nearly 80 miles inland.  This unique location opened up foreign trade opportunities and businesses soon flourished, particularly the wine trade, making it one of the most prosperous Bastides in western France.

Our ship, the Viking Foresti, docked adjacent to another river ship, the Ama Dolce.  The bridge you see in the featured image is the Bridge of 1820.  I think it was built that year.  We docked late in the day Tuesday and after dinner MA and I walked off the ship for an evening stroll.  Some of the best light of the day is after the sun sets in the horizon, especially if there are high cirrus clouds. You can see this in the photos of the bridge and across the river.


Port Tower stands guard over Livourne

To get off the ship we had to walk up to our top deck, across the top deck of the Ama Dolce down to the gang plank and across to the dock gate.  You need a code to get back through the locked gate.  Our walk took us to the Port Tower, built in the 11th Century.  I noticed a good amount of bullet holes in the side of the tower and could only speculate as to how those occurred.

We ran into a drunken teenager carrying a beer bottle.   He could not have been over 16. He mumbled something but I could not understand what he was saying and I’ve been know to accurately converse with drunks. Anyhow our walk into Lebourne was short and we made our way back to the ship.  A hot shower and warm bed was waiting for us back on the Viking Forseti.

This Viking ship is very comfortable. We have a queen size bed and we have learned to adjust to the smaller size.  We normally turn the a/c down to 70 and both of have no trouble going to sleep and staying asleep.

The next morning we were up and ready for breakfast at 8:00. The chef prepares your eggs exactly how you want it.  Today I ordered two over easy and I made myself toast. It’s a breakfast I really like.



Our tour of Libourne began at 9:15.  MA decided to stay back on the ship.  At first I was going to pass on the walking tour but decided that I probably never be back this way and went ahead with the tour group.  The weather this morning was cloudy and cool and there was a distinct possibility of rain.  Our small group followed the river to the Port Tower and turned into town.

The street was being rebuilt and I was fascinated by the work crew laying the bricks. Six men were engaged in the reconstruction of the cobblestone street.  I took some photos of the process.  One guy was operating the fork lift, one person mixing the concrete and four men were laying the bricks in the street.


This guy’s main commodity is oranges.


The huge green beans looked good enough to eat raw.


Fresh Artichokes

Our tour group went into an open air market and then into the covered market.  There was everything there from fresh vegetables, fish, beef, cheese and then the used clothes.  I tried to capture the flavors and scents of the market in my photos, except for the clothes!  It was time to return to the ship and have lunch with MA.

After lunch we boarded buses for a short drive to Saint-Emilion, the wine capital of Bordeaux. We once again found our new friends; Bill and Jordy and Robin and Peter on the bus with us. Once we got to Sainte-Emilion, MA decided to go on the “easy walking” tour and I went with the regular tour.

Sainte-Emilion is a town built into a cliff that is surrounded by vineyards, literally.  The town was built in the late 12th Century.  Between the 12th and 15th Centuries, the Collegiate Church and its monastery was built.  Walking down from the upper streets to the lower street level is an experience, especially on wet cobblestone streets.  My tour ended and I want to go back to the church and cloister to get some better photos.  As I came out of the church, MA was in the courtyard.  We went to lunch together and walked back to the bus.  Here are some photographs of Sainte-Emilio.


3 thoughts on “Libourne: An English Port Bastide & Saint-Emilion: French Wine Capital

  1. dave b. says:

    Wayne –
    Very nice commentary and great selection of pictures. Plenty of color in this area – especially the market place as usual. Don’t think I would be candidate as a cobblestone street repair guy.

    Have a God blessed day – dave b.


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