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The South of France by River: Wine and History From Sarlat to Bordeaux

Program Number: 19359RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/16/2014 - 9/28/2014; 4/17/2015 - 4/28/2015; 5/7/2015 - 5/18/2015; 9/5/2015 - 9/16/2015; 9/15/2015 - 9/26/2015; 10/12/2015 - 10/23/2015;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,799.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats; History & Culture
Meals: 31; 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

In the South of France, wine is a beloved part of everyday life. It’s also big business. Voyage along the Dordogne and Garonne rivers and explore some of the world’s great vineyards in Saint-Émilion, Médoc and Graves. Learn about AOC’s, microclimates and the development of the French wine industry. From prehistoric cave drawings to Roman times to the Hundred Years’ War, learn this region’s story.




Activity Particulars

Extensive walking along unpaved lanes and cobblestoned streets; some stairs without railings and/or uneven. Participants should be able to stand for at least one hour.



2015 dates include 6 days on board the vessel. 2014 dates include 7 days on board the vessel.

05/07/15 and 09/05/15 program dates are on the MS Cyrano de Bergerac instead of Princess d'Aquitaine.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Sarlat, 4 nights; aboard vessel, 7 nights.



Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.




Days 2-5: Arrival Bordeaux (France) / coach to Sarlat:

Explore the medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda. Learn about the region’s cuisine through a cooking demonstration with a grand chef.
Lodging: Centrally located hotel.



Day 6: Coach to Bordeaux / embark MS Princesse d’Aquitaine:

Discover how the “black pearl of the Périgord,” a rare and highly desired truffle, is unearthed with the help of truffle hogs.



Day 7: Pauillac:

At vineyards in the Médoc wine region, learn about Bordeaux’s First Growth wines from local experts and go down into wine cellars for tastings.



Day 8: Blaye:

Visit a lesser-known Côtes-de-Blaye winery. Journey along part of the Corniche, a scenic road winding along high cliffs.



Day 9: Cadillac:

On the left bank of the Garonne is the Graves AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée). Here, delve further into terroir, the “sense of place” that the land bestows on wine.



Day 10: Libourne:

Explore the famed AOC of Saint-Émilion and learn about France’s complex system for cataloguing and rating vineyards. Step inside the town’s monolithic church, carved by Benedictine monks.



Days 11-13: Bordeaux / disembark / departure:

Take in the beautiful architecture of Bordeaux’s urban center and learn the city’s history. A founder of the Museum of Wine and Wine Trade welcomes you for a behind-the-scenes visit and private wine and cheese tasting.



MS Cyrano de Bergerac

The newest vessel in Croisi Europe's fleet, built in 2013, the MS Cyrano de Bergerac has three decks, a lounge, bar and dance floor, large sun deck with recliners, an elevator, and gift shop.


France

The epicurious and the curious find much to admire in Western Europe’s largest nation, whose agricultural riches and terrain of beaches, mountains and fertile fields have drawn residents for thousands of years. The northern region hosts the nation’s Parisian capital, as well as unique Breton culture, while the sun-drenched Mediterranean coast sports the chic beach-goers and the terraced vineyards of the interior.



Accommodations
Lodging: Centrally located hotel in Sarlat; comfortable cabins aboard deluxe two-deck riverboat.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel la Couleuvrine
  Sarlat, France 4 nights
   MS Cyrano de Bergerac
  Bordeaux, France
Pauillac, France
Blaye, France
Libourne, France
Bordeaux, France
7 nights
 Hotel la Couleuvrine
Type: Hotel
  Description: This hotel, located in one of the towers of the old rampart of the city of Sarlat, unites a medieval history with an exceptional art de vivre. In La Couleuvrine, you will find both the charming welcome of the olden days and the well-being provided by modern comfort. Situated within walking distance of the center of the old town, the hotel is ideally located for exploring.
  Contact info: 1 place de la Boucquerie
Sarlat-la-Canéda,  24200 France
phone: +33 (0)5 53 59 27 80
web: www.la-couleuvrine.com/gb/index.htm
  Room amenities: Air Conditioning, Television, Telephone
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, Wifi access, Elevator, Bar
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBA Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for rates and reservations.

 MS Cyrano de Bergerac
Type: Riverboat
  Ship Information: The newest vessel in Croisi Europe's fleet, built in 2013, the MS Cyrano de Bergerac has three decks and is 110 meters long. It can accommodate 174 passengers in its 87 cabins.
  Contact info: 12, rue de la Division Leclerc
Strasbourg,  67000 France
phone: +33 (0)3 88 76 44 44
web: http://www.croisieuroperivercruises.com/ships/ms-cyrano-de-bergerac-2014
  Room amenities: Private bathroom with shower, satellite television, hairdryer, safe, radio
  Facility amenities: Lounge with dance floor and bar, bar with TV, video and terrace, restaurant, large sun deck with loungers, terrace, French balconies, shop, lift. Fully air-conditioned throughout the vessel and in all cabins, central heating, 230V electricity supply, radar, wifi on board (charge applies).
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program begins with an orientation in the early evening at the program hotel in Sarlat, France. You will be staying at Hotel la Couleuvrine that night.
  End of Program:
This program ends after breakfast aboard the ship. You will be staying at MS Cyrano de Bergerac the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
N/A
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: There is train service available from Bordeaux to Sarlat; the cost is usually between 30 and 60 US dollars.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sarlat
  Transportation to site: A group arrival transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and arrive on the group date. Independent travelers may take the train from Bordeaux Saint-Jean Station to Sarlat; the price is usually between 30 and 60 US dollars.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departure
  Transportation from site: A group departure transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and depart on the group date. Independent travelers can take a taxi from the hotel to the airport or can ask the purser on board for assistance in arranging a shuttle transfer.
Elevation Note: 500 feet is the highest elevation.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures from the U.S.A.
(Tuesday, September 16)
   
 Depart From: International flight to France.

Day 2: Arrival in Bordeaux
(Wednesday, September 17)
   
 Morning: Arrivals in Bordeaux.
 Lunch: Group lunch in Bordeaux for those who will have already arrived.
 Afternoon: Group transfer to Sarlat. Upon arrival, check into your hotel and enjoy some free time to settle in, freshen up, and explore before orientation. We will gather in our private meeting room where the Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding
 Dinner: Welcome dinner and cocktail.
   
Accommodations: Hotel la Couleuvrine
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: La Roque Gageac and Cuisine in the Perigord
(Thursday, September 18)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will visit the Château des Milandes. Built around 1489, it was the main house of the lords of Caumont who preferred to live in this manor house instead of the uncomfortable medieval castle of Château de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle. In 1940, the entertainer Josephine Baker moved into the château and and lived there until 1968. We will continue on to an on-site lecture and cooking demonstration led by a Grande Toque du Perigord (Grand Chef). Learn about regional cuisine of the region and sample some local specialties.
 Lunch: Enjoy dishes prepared by your chef.
 Afternoon: Explore the beautiful village of La Roque Gageac and enjoy a ride aboard a gabare boat on the Dordogne river. Learn more about the history of the region and about gabares, the traditional flat-bottomed boats used for transporting goods between the Massif Central and the ports of Bergerac, Libourne and Bordeaux.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
 Evening: Take an evening walk around the beautiful medieval city of Sarlat as your Group Leader points out sites of interest.
   
Accommodations: Hotel la Couleuvrine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Prehistory in the Perigord: Cave Paintings and Les Eyzies
(Friday, September 19)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy the local market. Sarlat has an exceptional market that features all the local produce and local products. Afterward, we will board the coach to travel to Rouffignac to see the "Cave of a Hundred Mammoths" on an electric train ride through the caverns. View over 250 animal figure etchings scattered in this underground maze, made over 140 centuries ago. At the National Museum of Prehistory in Les Eyzies, you will have the opportunity to view one of the most important stone and bone tool collections in France, and the premier collection of Paleolithic engravings and sculpture in the world.
 Lunch: Enjoy dishes prepared by the chef.
 Afternoon: Continue your exploration of prehistoric Dordogne with a visit to Lascaux to see the world's most famous cave paintings. The Lascaux caves were discovered accidentally in 1940. From 1940 through 1963, more than a million people visited. However, they tracked in fungus on their shoes and changed the temperature and humidity with their heavy breathing. In just 15 years, the precious art deteriorated more than during the 15,000 years before that. The original caves were closed. A copy cave showing 90 percent of the paintings found in Lascaux was opened next to the original in 1983. At Lascaux II, the reindeer, horses, and bulls of Lascaux I were painstakingly reproduced using the same dyes, tools, and techniques the original artists used 15,000 years ago.
 Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine.
   
Accommodations: Hotel la Couleuvrine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: The Pilgrimage Site of Rocamadour
(Saturday, September 20)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will travel by coach to Rocamadour along the scenic Dordogne valley route and stop a few times to admire the spectacular views. You will discover the spectacular setting of Rocamadour, built on the side of cliffs overlooking the valley. Learn about the history of the town and the significance of the Black Virgin and other sites.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: At a local distillery, discover the regional fruit wines, juices and liquors that have been produced here for generations. Learn about the economic impact of this industry while you enjoy some sampling. The coach will then return to Sarlat.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Hotel la Couleuvrine
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: The Black Pearl of the Perigord
(Sunday, September 21)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: At a farm in St Cyprien, you will learn about the "Black Pearl of the Perigord" and discuss the history of this rare and mysterious truffle that has become a luxury product and a sign of wealth. You will also learn about truffle hunting and uses in cuisine.
 Lunch: On your own. Take the time to enjoy some fresh market food or explore local fare.
 Afternoon: We will board the coach for Bordeaux to board the ship.
 Dinner: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
   
Accommodations: MS Cyrano de Bergerac
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Bordeaux AOC and the White Wines of the Graves Region
(Monday, September 22)
   
 Breakfast: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Morning: You will learn about the origin of viticulture and the history of winemaking in the region. Discover the appellations (AOC) within Bordeaux and sample some of the wines to develop your palate.
 Lunch: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Afternoon: We will venture out into the vineyards of the Graves and Sauternes regions. Take time to explore two very distinct producers and learn about their art and taste their wines. Along the way, explore some of the loveliest villages of the Bordelais.
 Dinner: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
   
Accommodations: MS Cyrano de Bergerac
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: The Red Wines of the Medoc Region
(Tuesday, September 23)
   
 Breakfast: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Morning: Enjoy a free morning on board observing the scenic vistas of the Garonne and Gironde rivers.  
 Lunch: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Afternoon: Discover the Medoc vineyards, producer of some of the best wines in the world. This region of the Bordeaux wine AOC is blessed with unique micro climates. We will drive through the vineyards of Pauillac, St Julien Margaux, and the Haut Medoc, stopping at a few exclusive properties for a cellar visit and a special tasting.
 Dinner: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
   
Accommodations: MS Cyrano de Bergerac
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: The Gironde Estuary / Côtes de Blaye / Corniche
(Wednesday, September 24)
   
 Breakfast: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Morning: An on-board lecture will examine the wines of the Côtes de Blaye. This is a lesser known vineyard that produces some very nice local wines with very little exposure in North America. Enjoy the rest of the morning on deck observing the scenic vistas of the Gironde Estuary and the cliffs of Meschers-sur-Gironde. Your Study Leader will share historical commentary.
 Lunch: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Afternoon: Discover the Corniche, a beautiful scenic road that follows the Dordogne river as it joins the Gironde to form the estuary. The narrow road goes along high cliffs revealing some interesting local architecture. We will also visit a small vineyard to taste the local Côtes de Blaye before returning to Blaye to explore the citadel.
 Dinner: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
   
Accommodations: MS Cyrano de Bergerac
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: The Dordogne / Wines and Underground Sites of St-Emilion
(Thursday, September 25)
   
 Breakfast: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Morning: We will discuss the great wines of St Emilion, by far the most famous vineyards in the world. Learn about the complex system of cataloguing and rating the vineyards and discover how these unique wines are made. Enjoy the rest of the morning on deck observing the scenic vistas of the lower Dordogne as we enter the river just north of Bordeaux. Observe the unique landscapes as your Study Leader shares historical commentary.
 Lunch: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Afternoon: We will take a field trip to explore St. Emilion and its many historic sites including the Eglise Monolithe, the largest underground church in Europe, which was constructed by Benedictine monks during the 9th-12th centuries. We will then visit a vineyard in St. Emilion for a sampling of their wines. Many of the area growers still keep up the old tradition of planting roses at the end of the rows. In pre-pesticide days, this served as an early-warning system against infection, the idea being that oidium went for the roses first, giving a notice of its intentions.
 Dinner: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
   
Accommodations: MS Cyrano de Bergerac
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: The History of Bordeaux and the Importance of Wine
(Friday, September 26)
   
 Breakfast: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Morning: Enjoy a lecture discussing the importance of Bordeaux in French history. We will start with the role of wine and the wine merchant in the history of Bordeaux. We will also discuss the city's close connection with England and its role in the Hundred Year War.
 Lunch: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Afternoon: We will set off on foot and tram to explore some of the great monuments of Bordeaux. Led by your Study Leader, a native of the city, enjoy a unique perspective of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
 Dinner: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
   
Accommodations: MS Cyrano de Bergerac
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Bordeaux / Farewell Dinner
(Saturday, September 27)
   
 Breakfast: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Morning: Enjoy a unique inside visit and lecture to the Museum of the Wine Merchant. Led by one of the founders of this unique museum, explore the final part of Bordeaux history and take delight in a special tasting of cheese and wine.
 Lunch: On board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Afternoon: Take the afternoon to either explore Bordeaux on your own or to stay on board the ship and enjoy the sight of boats sailing up and down the Garonne.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner on board the MS Cyrano de Bergerac.
   
Accommodations: MS Cyrano de Bergerac
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Departure
(Sunday, September 28)
   
 Breakfast: On board the Cyrano de Bergerac.
 Morning: Group transfer to the airport for departure. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

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