Bordeaux, Medoc & St Émillion wine routes, Dordogne/Perigord Noir
7 days from Bordeaux
A feast for all the senses!
This tour begins and ends in Bordeaux, France. Bordeaux has an international airport and is approximately a 2-hour, 10-minute train ride from/to Paris. SGT is happy to assist you with pre and/post tour plans in either city or both if you wish, please just ask us!
Arrival into Bordeaux at your leisure. You have the day to explore as you choose independently.
Bordeaux is the traditional seat of the Dukes of Aquitaine with a history stretching back 2000 years – it has seen Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Saracens at its gates. Called the “city of art and history,” about 1810 hectares of the city centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bordeaux is home to two world class art museums, several scenic bridges, a Roman arch, a lovely botanical garden, top shopping and amazing architecture. Cathedral of St André, which is comparable in size with Notre-Dame in Paris, dates to the 12th century. One of the many scenic squares is Place de la Comédie, on the site of the Roman forum, home to one of the finest theatres in Europe, built in 1780 and designed by the same architect as Chartres Cathedral and Palais Royal in Paris.
For those that wish to get a jump on our culinary/wine theme, there is Ecole du Vin in the centre of Bordeaux, the ‘school of wine’ where one can get acquainted with some of the local varieties. Of course, the local cafes and restaurants have no shortage of delights to sample!
ON: Bordeaux (accommodation included in the package)
Meet your driver/guide in the hotel lobby at 09:00. Today venture the 30 miles south-west of Bordeaux to the Bay of Arcachon, where most of France’s 130,000-ton annual oyster production is harvested. En-route see Pyla Dune, the highest sand dune in France. At 315 feet, it gives spectacular views over the water. Archachon is a wonderful setting in which to enjoy oysters, with miles of sandy shoreline dotted with colourful oyster huts, oyster farms and boats.
Later, at Château Paloumey in the Medoc wine region, enjoy learning the art of wine blending in a special workshop. Taste the two main Bordeaux grape varieties (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) separately to identify their individual characteristics. Then discover the magic of blending as you create your own wine!
ON: Bordeaux, same property as above
The famed Bordeaux vineyards, the rich grape growing countryside around Medoc and St Émilion, are on the doorstep and are our focus today. We will meander the vineyards, sampling the local wineries as we choose. St Emilion town provides almost a perfect summary of this tour – medieval, narrow, cobbled streets, ancient ramparts, historical buildings, shopping and a chance to taste a local delicacy, in this case macaroons. Absorb life with a glass of fine wine beside you. Bliss!
ON: Bordeaux, same property as above
Today make the way into the Périgord Noir, home to dense forests of oak and pine and criss-crossed by the Dordogne and Vézère rivers. A rich region, here mediaeval castles blanket the hilltops and prehistoric caves feature some of the oldest known cave paintings in the world. There are exquisite local culinary specialties, the region is famous for foie gras, walnuts and black truffles. Also tempting the palette of local fare are dishes including goose, duck (confit de canard in particular,) wild mushrooms, goat cheeses, river trout and semi-wild boar.
Chateau des Milandes fell into ruin after the French Revolution but it was famously restored by the legendary dancer/singer/war hero/philanthropist Josephine Baker, where she lived with her 12 children from 1946 until the late 1960s. The chateau is one of the prettier of the chateaux in this area and is surrounded by an attractive garden. The exterior of the chateau has everything – turrets, pointy roofs, mullioned windows, stained glass, gargoyles – all put together in a beautifully harmonious way. The interior is maintained in the Art Deco style in which Josephine Baker decorated it. Inside there are exhibitions commemorating her life, including displays of famous stage costumes like the infamous banana skirt worn at ‘Folies Bergère’ in 1928 and others from her career appearances at ‘Olympia’ and the ‘Casino de Paris.’ Les Milandes also puts on birds of prey shows featuring falcons, hawks, owls and a white-headed American eagle so you can see these magnificent birds in action.
Also see the interesting Jardins de Marqueyssac, offering spectacular views over the chalky cliffs of the Dordogne Valley. Kleber Rossillon restored the gardens to their 17th century character, full of uniquely trimmed boxwoods, and added some new features including an alley of santolina and rosemary. Since 1997, these gardens have been classified amongst the Notable Gardens of France. Guests can wander the hedge mazes and enjoy the pictureque views! Note that there are several steep inclines and uneven steps at this location.
Sarlat, the capital of the Périgord Noir region, is our base for these few days. During our time here, see the old town’s exceptional townscape, which reflect the riches of the early landowners. Nestled in a hillside, Sarlat-la-Caneda is a well-preserved mediaeval village full of narrow cobbled streets, ‘hidden’ courtyards, turrets and old stone buildings. For those that want more opportunities to sample local libations, you won’t be disappointed here! Sarlat is home to a local brewery using a mediaeval ale recipe, ‘Biere Artisanale De Sarlat,’ and a specialty winery shop of Chateau Lagrezette, Malbec vineyards.
On the tour agenda today, Rocamadour, a town uniquely built integrated into a steep rocky wall. For centuries this place has been attracting Christian Pilgrims to its religious shrine. Numerous miraculous healings were attributed to the saintly remains of a hermit found here in 1166, prompting an influx of pilgrims and patronage of wealthy nobles and kings. This place is rich in historical significance, beautiful architecture, and most of all, spectacular views. On our culinary theme, Rocamadour is also famous for their local cheese.
We can route our way today via one or two of the lovely local villages and local farm shops. Perhaps Martel, known as the ‘town of the seven towers,’ or Carennac, officially classified as ‘one of the most beautiful villages of France,’ home to an interesting priory and a small castle.
ON: Sarlat-la-Canéda, same property as above
This will be another day to remember as we explore more of the Dordogne, placing particular emphasis on the breathtaking array of prehistoric sites and local food purveyors. There are over 200 separate pre-historic sites here! Many are concentrated around the vicinity of Les Eyzies, easy access to view a sampling of the astounding cave paintings, particularly seeking out famed Lascaux Caves.
Also today, the chance to go ‘truffle hunting.’ Visit a local truffle farm and experience how they seek out these delicacies. This area is known for its black truffles and, yes of course, there are ample opportunities to sample!
Other options in way of local food purveyors include a semi-wild boar farm walk, fruit based apéritifs distillery tour/tasting, visiting a goose and duck farm and, subject to availability, a private tour of ‘world of bees’ for a honey tasting. We will choose based on the particular interests of the guests aboard.
ON: Sarlat-la-Canéda, same property as above
This morning we stay local to enjoy the weekly Sarlat Saturday morning market, this market dates back to mediaeval times and is famous throughout the region. Several streets of olde town fill with vendors with their colorful tents, many featuring the local culinary specialties. Meander the market as you choose, you can usually find foie gras, confit, fresh breads, cured meats, walnut cakes, cheeses, truffle and walnut oils, a selection of antiques, quirky gifts and other sundries.
This afternoon, we make our way back to Bordeaux via one or two of the nearby famous fortresses - Castelnaud focuses on the art of mediaeval warfare, and/or Beynac, clinging above the steep pretty stone village of the same name.
Our tour concludes this evening back in Bordeaux.
Bordeaux Wine Festival is scheduled 14 – 18 June, 2018. The next should be in June, 2020.
Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times beyond our control.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This itinerary is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.
6 touring days with driver/guide companion, accommodation for 6 nights while on the tour including breakfast daily, entrance fees to listed attractions, transportation and all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide.
Dinners, beverages and any items of a personal nature are not included in the package price.
Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, Paris/Bordeaux city tours or day trips, transport passes and theatre tickets are not included but can be added to your package as you wish for a supplemental fee. Please discuss your needs with us, SGT is at your service!
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