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21-day Small Group Tour of Bordeaux, Cognac, Dordogne

  • 21days
  • France

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Small Group Tours Europe

Explore the Bordeaux, Cognac and Dordogne regions of France

Personally hosted by Carol Haslam, Director of Slow Tours. Carol lived in France for six years, speaks fluent French, knows this region really well and loves to show guests some of her favourite spots.

The city of Bordeaux is the hub of France’s best known red wine region, situated on the banks of the Garonne with its beautiful cathedral, the easily recognisable Bourse built in the 1700's and pedestrian shopping centre surrounded by 18th and 19th century mansions.

Near the Atlantic and the oyster-producing bay of Arcachon this region boasts many chateaux and vineyards, its wines complementing the region’s cuisine: eels, mussels and oysters from the coast; salt lamb and goat’s cheeses from the inland pastures.

Among the highlights, an expert brandy-maker will show us around stunning vineyards where the region’s revered, twice-distilled brandy is made (yes, there’ll be tastings!), and we will taste a little of the famous Bordeaux reds at different wineries.

After the Bordeaux/Cognac regions, we head to the Dordogne river. In the heart of the Perigord region famed for its prehistoric caves, spectacular limestone cliffs, medieval villages and castles, narrow gorges and tumbling waterfalls, the delightful Dordogne valley will enchant you. From one of the best markets in France at Sarlat, to the rocky peak of Rocamadour, this region is filled with ancient stories of pilgrims and miracles.

Specialties of the region include truffles and wild mushrooms, walnuts and cheeses. The most celebrated wine is Monbazillac, a slightly sweet white wine which is an excellent accompaniment to the region’s signature ‘foie gras’.

Included in the Small Group Tour:

  • Transfers from Bordeaux airport or train station on arrival
  • Transfer to Toulouse airport or train station on departure
  • Fully escorted tour in a comfortable vehicle
  • Welcome and farewell dinners with drinks
  • 20 nights 3* and 4* accommodation
  • 20 breakfasts, 19 x 3-course meals (either lunch or dinner) with a glass or two of wine or beer
  • Excursions as per the itinerary
  • Entry fees to all sites, wine-tastings included
  • Visitors taxes
  • Bike and canoe hire for the energetic
  • Boat trips as per the itinerary

Not included in the tour:

  • Meals not mentioned above
  • Drinks not mentioned above
  • Travel insurance
  • Travel to Bordeaux and from Toulouse
  • Gratuities

Maximum 14 people

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  • Day 1

    Arrive at Bordeaux train station or airport for transfer to your hotel near St Emilion, with time to relax before the welcome dinner

  • Day 2

    Visit the charming old village of St Emilion for wine-tasting and lunch then explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site with a history going back to prehistoric times. There are fascinating Romanesque churches and ruins stretching all along the steep and narrow streets.

    The Romans planted vineyards in what was to become Saint-Émilion as early as the 2nd century. In the 4th century, the Latin poet Ausonius lauded the fruit of the bountiful vine. The town was named after the monk Émilion, a travelling confessor, who settled in a hermitage carved into the rock there in the 8th century. It was the monks who followed him that started up the commercial wine production in the area.

  • Day 3

    Morning markets at Libourne, where we can buy our picnic lunch. A short drive to the local lake for our lunch before we drive to Pomerol and Montagne for a tasting in a winery which still uses the grape-growing and production methods of centuries past. Dinner at your hotel

  • Day 4

    Today we drive to Bergerac for a free morning discovering the charming old town centre. A visit to the 'Maison de vins' or the tobacco museum, shopping, a walk along the river or enjoying a fine spot for lunch are all your choice. After lunch time, we drive to the nearby town of Monbazillac, where the golden sweet wines which accompany the region's foie gras are made. A visit to the Monbazillac chateau with wine-tasting of the chateau wines finishes off your day.

  • Day 5

    We take a drive through the vineyards to some of the local significant villages of the region known as Entre-deux-mers. You will have an opportunity to take a pedal boat or canoe on a lake, take a good morning walk around the lake, or sit and enjoy a coffee. After a lunch in the village of Blasimon, we visit the towns of Cadillac and Sauternes with tastings of the sweeter grape varieties on our way to our next hotel

  • Day 6

    Discover the Medoc region with chateau visits and wine-tastings at some of the world's best known wineries. This region has beautiful countryside and chateau architecture, including Chateau Margaux, with its Palladian style and Chateau Latour. After a lunch in Pauillac we will go for tour one of the most modern wineries in the world, followed by a wine-tasting .

  • Day 7

    Morning in Bordeaux for shopping, cathedral and city tour and for the wine enthusiasts, a visit to the Cite du Vin is an absolute must. Your choice of joining the group or enjoy the day visiting this famous city on your own, with maps and a meeting point provided. After returning to our hotel for some free time, dinner is in Margaux

  • Day 8

    An excursion and ferry to visit the Vauban Citadelle at Blaye, built on 38 hectares between 1685 and 1689 under Vauban's supervision. The Fortifications of Vauban are twelve groups of fortified buildings that form a defensive ring around France. They were constructed by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), military engineer of King Louis XIV and influential far beyond the French borders. A walk to the village where we will have an excellent lunch and wine-tasting of the local appellation before returning by ferry and vehicle to our hotel.

  • Day 9

    We leave our hotel for a trip by ferry to the other side of the Garonne estuary. Excursion to Talmont sur Gironde, one of France’s most beautiful villages perched on a rocky outcrop and protected by fortifications protecting it from the sea - and any invaders! Settle in to your hotel near Cognac

  • Day 10

    A free morning for discovering the town of Cognac, a boat ride on the Charente, bike ride through the vineyards, or rest and enjoy reading a good book. In the afternoon we visit Chateau Cognac, birthplace of King Francois II of France.

  • Day 11

    Today we drive to the small village of Jarnac, where Francois Mitterand was born and raised. We visit two brandy distilleries - a small award-winning family business and the large producer Courvoisier. . Learn a little about this fascinating region, its history, some second world war stories and enjoy real cognac tastings before returning to our hotel.

  • Day 12

    We leave for the Dordogne and our farmhouse near Sarlat. A visit to the medieval town of Sarlat in the afternoon for shopping, cathedral and free time to explore. Dinner in Sarlat before returning to our hotel

  • Day 13

    This morning we go into Sarlat for the best markets of this region. A free afternoon for a bike ride or canoe on the Dordogne river, then we discover the village of Domme where we enjoy a delicious dinner at a very special inn.

  • Day 14

    A boat trip on the Dordogne river starts the day, with a visit to the very popular old town of La Roque Gageac. Lunch in the Marqueyssac chateau gardens and free time to explore its 6 kms of walking paths and stunning views over the Dordogne river and its villages.

  • Day 15

    Today we go back into history with a visit to the world-renowned prehistoric cave of Lascaux and the fascinating Roque Saint Christophe.

  • Day 16

    Today we go on an excursion to one of the beautiful chateaux of this region, with a tour of the 10-hectare garden and lunch in the chateau restaurant. Return to your hotel with some free time to enjoy the hotel pool and garden.

  • Day 17

    One of the best prehistoric museums is in Les Eyzies, which is where we go this morning. Les Eyzies de Tayac is a pretty town which at first glance, appears to be crushed under the cliff. The town is littered with numerous grottos, caves and troglodyte dwellings whose history dates back to more than 28,000 years. We stop for a relaxed lunch near the river before heading to the chateau Milandes and its gardens, once the home of Josephine Baker.

  • Day 18

    Today we head off to the other side of the autoroute to the Lot department, where we will visit the Gouffre de Padirac in the morning, followed by lunch and a free afternoon to explore Rocamadour, one of the most visited sites in France. We settle in at our last hotel in the medieval city of Cahors

  • Day 19

    A free day to explore Cahors, a town on the Lot river in the Occitanie region of southern France. It’s known for its deep red wine, elaborate municipal gardens and the Pont Valentré, a medieval bridge with 3 towers. The old town features half-timbered houses and narrow alleyways. Imposing Cathédrale St-Étienne (Cahors Cathedral) was built in Gothic and Romanesque styles, with large domes and centuries-old frescoes. Dinner in a local restaurant

  • Day 20

    Today we head east towards St Cirq-la-Popie, our destination today. A free day to explore this fascinating tiny village built on a cliff.. At lunchtime, guests have the choice of meeting for a light lunch or lunching on their own. We meet in the afternoon for a drive to our hotel and a farewell dinner

  • Day 21

    After breakfast, transfer and departure to Toulouse airport or train station.

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Over the past 30 years I have travelled to most parts of the world , often alone and at times with a tour group. I have just returned from southern France in the Dordogne region, after a week on tour with Slow Tours and Carol Haslam the organiser. This tour rates as probably the best I have ever done , it was relaxed ,uncomplicated, full of experieces, personally accommodating, and highly professional. I am still soaking in my memories and I encourage anyone who is seeking a beautiful experience in France to contact Slow Tours. Thank you Carol. Marseille Wooden Boat Regatta week/Dordogne/Quercy David, Sydney Australia, June 2011

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