Jewels of South West France
Delicious oysters. Exquisite wines. Take time to savour the finer things in life on this journey of discovery through Southwest France. Starting in Bordeaux (just a two-hour train journey from Paris), we’ll seek out the region’s gastronomic gems and treasured vineyards – travelling over soaring mountains, along the Atlantic coast, and into enchanting castles and otherworldly caves as we go.
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Day 1: Bordeaux – Arcachon Bay – Biarritz
Where better to begin our journey than Bordeaux? After meeting the group, we’ll move on to Atlantic Ocean-fringed Arcachon Bay, where we’ll get our first taste of coastal cuisine with fresh oysters and a glass of local wine from one of the port’s traditional cabins. We’ll then stop to see the Great Dune of Pilat – Europe’s highest sand dune, with panoramic views over the bay. Then: to round off our first day, we’ll gather together in Biarritz for a welcome dinner.
Hotel: Hôtel Georges VI or similar, 2 nights
Day 2: Biarritz – Bayonne – Biarritz
Today we’ve a full day to spend taking in the beauty of the French Basque Country. First, we’ll indulge our cultural sides in Bayonne – an art and history hub just a short drive away from Biarritz. While we’re here, we’ll discover a local family business going back three generations at the Bayonne Ham Museum – where we’ll indulge in a ham tasting before returning to the hotel for an afternoon of leisure time.
Day 3: Biarritz – Lourdes – Midi-Pyrenees
Today we’ll turn to the east – and (briefly) on to beautiful Pau. We’ll then travel through the Midi-Pyrénées region (along roads made famous by the Tour de France), pausing en route at the spiritual town of Lourdes – where we’ll see the likes of the Sanctuaires Notre-Dame de Lourdes and the Massabielle Grotto. In keeping with the spirit of our surroundings, we’ll check into comfortable rustic accommodation before tucking into this evening’s dinner.
Hotel: Hostellerie des Cèdres or similar
Day 4: Midi-Pyrenees – Cathare Country – Carcassonne
Following the trail of knights, we’ll continue our own crusade through the Midi-Pyrénées and past picture-perfect bastides. In Cathar country, we’ll visit a local winery and enjoy a glass of the region’s speciality – a sparkling Blanquette. Our final stop of the day will be medieval Carcassonne, where we’ll enjoy an included dinner together before resting our heads in our hotel – one of only two that lie within the old city walls.
Hotel: Hôtel Le Donjon or similar, 2 nights
Day 5: Carcassonne
Today you’ll be free to discover Carcassonne’s chivalric secrets at your own pace. From the alleys, passageways and 52 towers of the UNESCO-listed medieval citadel (which dates back two millennia) to the Château Comtal and its ramparts, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
Day 6: Carcassonne – Albi
Today we’ll leave the stronghold of Carcassonne behind and make tracks to the ‘red city’ of Albi. Here, we’ll get our bearings on a walking tour – stopping off at the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum on the way. Set within the Palais de la Berbie, this fascinating museum houses the largest public collection in the world devoted to the Albi painter.
Hotel: Hostellerie Saint-Antoine or similar
Day 7: Albi – Sarlat
This morning we’ll take to the water for a cruise on the River Lot in a traditional wooden gabare boat – enjoying unrivalled views of the clifftop village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (recently voted ‘France’s favourite village’) as we go. Later, we’ll move on to Sarlat – one of the most beautiful towns in the Dordogne.
Hotel: Grand Hôtel de Sarlat or similar, 3 nights
Day 8: Sarlat – Beynac-et-Cazenac – Sarlat
On the itinerary today: a stroll through stunning Sarlat, followed by a delightful visit to the riverside town of Beynac-et-Cazenac and its magnificently well-preserved medieval château – which has kept watch over the Dordogne from its clipptop position for nine centuries. Afterwards, we’ll return to Sarlat for dinner.
Day 9: Sarlat – Vezere Valley – Sarlat
Today our travels through the Dordogne will take in the prehistoric paintings of the UNESCO-protected Lascaux Cave – which was discovered when it was happened upon by a group of teenagers back in 1940. After a stop at pretty Les Eyzies village, we’ll follow the ‘Royal Road’, winding between craggy rocks and flowing rivers until we get to a local truffle farm – where local guides will give us an exclusive lesson in seeking out the rare delicacies. Tonight, we’ll come together for one last farewell dinner.
Day 10 – Sarlat – Saint-Emilion – Bordeaux
We’ll spend the final day of our tour in historic Saint-Émilion, a village perched above beautiful rolling countryside and countless vineyards. Here, we’ll have the chance to sample some of the region’s ‘heavy reds’ and say a final santé. We’ll then return to Bordeaux, where our tour will end.
|2020 Dates & Prices||Twin Share||Solo Traveller|
|May: 13, 20||$5,099.00||$6,629.00|
|September: 10, 17||$5,099.00||$6,629.00|
|Meals:||9 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 4 Dinners|
|Transport:||Premium Mini-coach transportation|
|Accommodation:||9 nights boutique accommodation|
|Guide:||Experienced Back-Roads Driver and Tour Leader|
|Entrance Fees & Touring:||Entrance fees & activities as per itinerary|
* Tour departure dates are subject to availability at time of booking.
* Prices and itinerary are correct at time of publication and are subject to change without notice.