Europe by B&B: Episode 3Richard Oliver: CSCC Club Member
One unique difference on this B&B, was the option to accept or decline the use of the knowledgeable bike guide, which cost 200 Euros apiece. We elected to save some US$470, and departed daily on self-guided rides. This option, in fact, was the predominant choice, as only about a dozen folks went on the guided rides.
For the self-guiders, every evening the bike guide did deliver a detailed briefing on the next day's ride, to include providing nice tear-resistant, water-proof maps, plus a turn-by-turn guide booklet. As a further assist, they also offered a few Garmin bike computers with the trails pre-loaded. My back-up was my iPhone with a downloaded Ulmon map of the Bordeaux region; so I always knew exactly where we were, even on some rather obscure country lanes, which the Google maps did not show.
Still, some bikers did momentarily go astray -- or maybe it was the wine (?) Actually, during the daily rides, most of the chateaus and vineyards did not entertain drop-in tasters, but rather required advanced reservations -- so this was one big advantage of going along with the bike guide. However, we all became adept at looking for our favorite sign: "Degustations Libre"
Just as an aside, we were asked not to buy wine from the vineyards to drink aboard. How utterly gauche was that! However, this is a typical policy on all B&B's, who earn extra income from their own bar. Actually, on the Bordeaux
, they provided very nice local wines, with generous pours, for 5 Euros (a bit under US$6), so, while still gauche, we were not gouged!
Ref the bikes: they provided well-maintained 21 speed Shimano gear shift, upright, comfort cruisers, with step-thru frames, front shocks, chain guard, front and rear fenders, bell, kick-stand, rear pannier rack, rear wheel lock, disc handbrakes, hybrid tires, gel seats and map holders, plus optional helmets. Naturally, as safety-minded CSCC riders, we brought along our own custom-fit helmets. Additionally, we each had a small hand pump and tube repair kit; or you could phone the guide/boat for help.
Also available, with advance notice and extra cost, were tandem bikes and e-bikes. And of course, one had the option to bring along their own bike, own seat, and/or their own pedals to allow for clip-in rides.
There are several B&B tour companies from which to compare and choose. We opted for Tripsite; others are: Boat-Bike Tours, Euro Sail and VBT -- just Google for their websites.
Prices vary based on type of cabin, add-on pre/post ride tours, insurance, airfare, etc. As a point of reference, our Bordeaux B&B was approximately US$3,500 for the two of us in prime season; airfare extra.
In closing, we greatly enjoyed this large-boat Bordeaux B&B, but still, upon quiet reflection, we feel a tad more nostalgia for the extra intimacy and bonding reaped on the smaller sized barges -- but it's all good!