Southern France, or "le Midi," is a heady seduction of vine-gilded countrysides and centuries-old castles that tower over the cerulean depths of the Mediterranean. Nexus of culinary alchemy, nave to the most exclusive vintages in the world, "le Midi" is a palette-expanding, eye-opening expression of flavor, color, and culture exploding against panoramas that inspired the Masters. Toast à votre santé inside the grape-festooned region of Bordeaux, and savor a Grand Cru in the region it was born. Venture to the bastides of Dordogne, and break bread in the vineyards of 16th-century architectural titans. Idyll away the time among the lavender fields of Saint Rémy, join the hunt for truffles alongside a master chef and his dogs, and enter a living storybook in the UNESCO-designated village of Carcassonne. In Southern France, discover the virtue of time standing still.
- Itinerary Type : Standard
- Activity Level : 4
- Number of Days:10
- Number of Meals:12
- Hotels:Hotel Le Vallon De Valrugues (Saint-Rémy-de-Provence), Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel (Bordeaux), Chateau des Vigiers, Dordogne Valley (Monestier), Mercure La Cité (Carcassonne)
- Experiences:Uncover the medieval city of Saint-Émilion.
Hunt for truffles with a local chef and his truffle-sniffing dogs.
- Must Sees:Spend two nights at a beautiful château in the Dordogne Valley.
- Culinaries:Indulge in the wines of Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion and Dordogne Valley.
Revel in a wine-paired, multi-course dinner.
Savor farm tastings throughout the French countryside.
Itinerary (9 days)
Bordeaux, France - Tour Begins
Welcome to Bordeaux, a region known as much for its vibrancy and dynamism as its world-renowned wine. A local restaurant famous for its sélection de vins and locally-sourced meat invites you for a gastronomic adventure expertly pairing locally sourced foods and wine to mark the beginning of your journey through the south of France.
This morning, explore Bordeaux through a local’s perspective during a guided city tour. Embark on an interactive journey through a world of wine and culture at La Cité du Vin. Referred to as the “Guggenheim of wine,” this sensory adventure takes you on a fascinating discovery of wine culture and history. Complete today’s adventure with a walk through a winery to absorb the atmosphere of the vineyards, smell the grapes and taste the wine. Enjoy the evening at leisure to take in the sights and sounds of Bordeaux.
Bordeaux - Saint-Émilion - Monestier (Dordogne Valley)
Today it’s your choice! Take a tuk-tuk through the charming medieval village of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Bordeaux’s largest winemaking areas -OR- take a guided walking tour of the Old Town featuring a visit to the underground Monolithic Church. After getting acquainted with the city, enjoy time to explore this perfectly compact French village. Next, head to a local winery and enjoy the flavors of the region. Then it’s on to the Château Des Vigiers, known as “Petit Versailles,” your home for the next two evenings. Tonight, enjoy a fine dining experience in this 16th-century estate.
Venture to the countryside for a vibrant local market experience. Stop in Eymet, one of Southern France’s iconic “bastides” (fortified towns) before visiting the Château Monbazillac – a wine cooperative and symbol of the Bergerac region since the 16th century – best known for its dessert wine. This afternoon, explore the château grounds at leisure. Take in a round of golf or relax and enjoy the luxurious spa.*
Dordogne Valley - Carcassonne
Bid adieu to the Dordogne Valley and make your way to Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage site and virtual storybook replete with drawbridges, towers and cobblestone streets. This afternoon, step back to medieval times on an independent exploration of this breathtaking city.
Carcassonne - Provence - Pont du Gard - Avignon - Saint-Rémy
Journey from Carcassonne to Provence. En route, marvel at the Saint-Benezet Bridge and the Pont du Gard, a surviving stretch of aqueduct built in the 1st century A.D. In the incredible village of Avignon, often called the “City of Popes,” gain an inside look at all this village has to offer during a walking tour with your local expert guide. End with a visit to the dramatic Popes’ Palace, a center of European religion since the Popes moved there in 1309.
Let an unforgettable epicurean adventure commence with a truffle hunt led by a local chef and trained, truffle-sniffing dogs. Après hunt, savor the unique experience of farm tastings throughout the countryside, among landscapes said to have inspired van Gogh, Picasso, and Renoir. Next you may choose an optional tour to the hilltop town of Les Baux-de-Provence where you have time to explore before experiencing one of the world’s most impressive multimedia presentations, the Carrières de Lumières; making use of a former quarry, art-based images are projected onto the surrounding rock and are accompanied by stirring music.
France’s famed lavender fields wait for you in Gordes. Visit the museum and learn the origin of this beautiful, fragrant flower. Enjoy a day at leisure to explore Gordes, then return to the hotel before tonight’s farewell dinner leaves you to compare notes and experiences with fellow travelers as you say au revoir to the magic of Southern France.
Saint-Rémy - Tour Ends
Your tour comes to a close today.
Museum of Wine
The recently completed structure of La Cite du Vin in Bordeaux was designed to look like the swirl in a wine glass, letting visitors know they’re about to be immersed in all things vino. This “Guggenheim to wine” is dedicated to the culture of wine around the world and features a restaurant and a wine boutique in addition to special exhibition zones.
Explore Saint Émilion, the perfectly compact French village that has grown and thrived for hundreds of years, all stemming from the ancient Romans who planted vineyards there.
The romance and grace of a château is hard to beat. Food, wine, beautiful gardens and sumptuous rooms will be forever etched in the memories of all who indulge in a château stay.
Many people agree that the markets in the south of France are stellar. They’re full of life and color where visitors can find some of the best local produce and enjoy the energy and culture of the local community. It’s a great way to have an authentic experience.
Castles, moats, spires and more! Visitors get to experience what life may have been like in the Middle Ages by visiting a medieval village that looks like it’s straight out of a storybook. Wander through the streets and be transported to another time.
Many stately properties are also wine-producing estates. Enjoy the bucolic vineyards as you step inside tasting rooms, breathe in the aromas, and taste the spirit of the château that produced it.
Choice on Tour
Take a tuk-tuk through the charming medieval village of Saint-Émilion, one of Bordeaux’s largest winemaking areas -OR- take a guided walking tour of the Old Town featuring a visit to the underground Monolithic Church.
Perched on a rocky hilltop and bristling with zigzag battlements, stout walls and spiky turrets, from afar the fortified city of Carcassonne looks like something out of a children’s storybook. It’s most people’s perfect idea of a medieval castle, and it’s undoubtedly an impressive sight–not to mention one of the Languedoc’s biggest tourist draws.
Pont Du Gard
The Pont du Gard is an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gardon River. The bridge is part of the Nimes aqueduct, a structure built by the Romans to carry water from a spring to the Roman colony of Nemausus. The Pont du Gard was built in the 1st century AD and is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges. Because the terrain between the two points is hilly, the aqueduct, built mostly underground, took a long, winding route that crossed the gorge, requiring the construction of the aqueduct bridge. It was added to the UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1985 because of its historical importance. One of the features of the bridge is that is has three tiers of arches, standing 160 feet high, which is indicative of the great precision that Roman engineers were able to achieve, using only simple technology. It is estimated that the aqueduct formerly carried 44 millions of gallons of water to fountains, baths, and homes. Today it is one of France’s most popular tourist attractions and has attracted the attention of a succession of literary and artistic visitors.
A perfectly preserved medieval enclave of Roman origins, Avignon is set in the heart of France's Provence region on the banks of the Rhone river. For 68 years in the 14th century, Avignon was the capital of Christianity, the seat of 10 Popes before the papacy was brought back to Rome in 1377. Avignon has always been a center for art and culture, a designation that continues with its annual Arts Festival, hosting numerous stage productions, film showings, exhibitions, poetry readings, concerts, mime performances, ballets, etc.
The Popes' Palace
Visit to the dramatic Popes’ Palace, a sprawling and awe-inspiring medieval gothic structure that became a religious epicenter after Pope Clement V fled the violence of medieval Rome in 1309.
Located in southeastern France, Provence draws visitors from all over the world to see its glorious lavender fields, olive trees and rocky coastline. They enjoy classic Mediterranean cuisine complimented by the world famous red and rosé wines produced in the region. All of this comes with Provence’s typical blue skies and warm days.
Go on an unforgettable adventure through the trees of Gordes, as a local chef leads you on a truffle hunt led by trained truffle dogs.