14253
France

Southwest France: Bordeaux and the Perigord

Savor history as you enjoy oenologist-led lectures, gastronomic heritage, ancient villages and prehistoric cave paintings in the timeless regions of Southwest France.
Rating (4.94)
Program No. 14253RJ
Length
14 days
Starts at
3,849
Flights start at
900
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14 days
13 nights
31 meals
12 B 11 L 8 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In flight
DAY
2
Arrive Bordeaux, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Bordeaux
D
Best Western Premier Hotel Bordeaux Bayonne Etche-Ona

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. The hotel is located in a narrow historic street, therefore the motorcoach drop off point is 300 feet from the hotel entrance; luggage in and out of the hotel is handled by porters.

Afternoon: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Please note that there are many opportunities for wine tasting on this program. During tastings you are not obligated to consume the wine, and always have the option to spit it out after tasting. Due to ecological regulations in France, new motorcoaches do not have restrooms on board, and older models have restrooms but they are not available for use; rest stops will be made for rides that are over 90 minutes. The Group Leader is a licensed professional “Guide-Conférencier” and will provide expert lectures and commentary throughout the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: We’ll walk to a local restaurant near the hotel. We’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of water, wine, soft drink; other beverages available for purchase. French restaurants take pride in creating a relaxed atmosphere where patrons expect to take their time, savor every bite, and set the pace of the meal, requesting “l’addition” — the check — only when they are ready. Meals are accompanied by complimentary “pain” (bread) and “eau” or “l’eau” (water), so you need not ask for them. When wine is offered, it is customary to fill your glass only half way so the wine can breathe and to be sure everyone has a share. Servers wait until everyone at the table has finished their dish before clearing and bringing the next course. To indicate that you have finished your meal, place your utensils together on the right hand side of your plate.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Alienor d'Aquitaine & Bordeaux, Wine, Museum of Aquitaine
Bordeaux
B,L
Best Western Premier Hotel Bordeaux Bayonne Etche-Ona

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles over the course of the day; cobblestone streets, uneven terrain, flat ground. Standing up to 2 hours at a time during field trips. When sampling wines during a tasting, participants have the option to swallow or spit.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with a variety of foods and beverage choices of coffee, tea, water, juice, milk.

Morning: At the hotel, our Group Leader will give an expert lecture on the background of Alienor d'Aquitaine. She was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women of the Middle Ages and a key figure in the history of both France and England. We will then head out on foot with a local expert to explore historic Bordeaux, a UNESCO world heritage site. We’ll hear the story of Bordeaux and learn of its importance with special emphasis on its UNESCO-listed World Heritage architecture. From the UNESCO inscription: “The port city of Bordeaux in south-west France, is inscribed as an inhabited historic city, an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble, created in the age of the Enlightenment, whose values continued up to the first half of the 20th century, with more protected buildings than any other French city except Paris. It is also recognized for its historic role as a place of exchange of cultural values over more than 2,000 years, particularly since the 12th century due to commercial links with Britain and the Low Lands.” One of the sights we will see is the cathédrale Saint-André. Eleanor of Aquitaine and French king Louis VII were married at this cathedral in 1137. With its freestanding belltower, this is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Bordeux. This cathedral is also a stop on the Routes of Santiago de Compostela. These routes pass through several regions of France and Spain and are also a UNESCO world heritage site.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we'll learn about the importance of the wine trade from a local expert while enjoying a wine tasting and plated meal featuring local products. There will be water served with the meal; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will walk to the Museum of Aquitaine where a local expert will take us on an exploration of the museum and give us an overview on the history of the region, from prehistoric times, through the Middle Ages and the slave trade era, to today. As we explore the exhibits, we’ll learn more about the significant role trade played in the development of Bordeaux.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
St. Emilion, Free time
Bordeaux
B,L
Best Western Premier Hotel Bordeaux Bayonne Etche-Ona

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 54 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; cobblestone streets, with inclines, uneven ground; unavoidable steps. When sampling wines during a tasting, participants have the option to swallow or spit.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will travel by motorcoach to the medieval city of Saint-Émilion. On arrival, we’ll set out on a walking field trip to explore its many historic sites including the Eglise Monolith, the largest underground church in Europe. This structure was carved by Benedictine monks during the 9th-12th centuries. Then we will ride to a vineyard in Saint-Émilion. We’ll observe how many of the growers in this area still keep up the old tradition of planting roses at the ends of the rows. We’ll will learn about the origins of this practice. We’ll then sample some of their wines and learn how the terroir impacts the way the wine tastes.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in St. Emilion, we’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of water, wine, soft drink; other beverages available for purchase. We’ll return to Bordeaux via motorcoach.

Afternoon: Free time in Bordeaux. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
History of Wine, Medoc Châteaux & Vineyards
Bordeaux
B,L,D
Best Western Premier Hotel Bordeaux Bayonne Etche-Ona

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 50 miles throughout the day, approximately 2 hours including stops. Walking up to 2 miles; even and uneven terrain; unavoidable steps during field trips. Standing up to 2 hours during field trips. When sampling wines during a tasting, participants have the option to swallow or spit.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will depart by motorcoach to explore the Médoc wine region. Along the way, our Group leader will teach us about the history and economic impact of the wine industry on the region of Bordeaux. On arrival, a local expert will show us around the château and teach us about the specific wines made here. Then, our local expert will lead a wine tasting; we’ll sample wines from the Médoc region.

Lunch: At the château, we’ll have a plated meal with beverage choices of wine or water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will continue to explore the vineyards of the Médoc region. We’ll stop at another château and sample more wine. With a local expert, we’ll learn about the history of the château and how they produce their wine. After, we will return to Bordeaux via motorcoach with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of water, wine, soft drink; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
The Rouffignac Cave, Sarlat
Sarlat
B,L,D
Best Western Le Renoir

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 126 miles, approximately 2.5 hours including stops. Getting on/off a small electric train; traveling about 1 hour. Walking up to 2 miles; even and uneven ground; unavoidable steps during field trips. Standing up to 2 hours during field trips. Note: it is advised that you bring a light sweater/jacket as it can get cool inside the cave.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will depart via motorcoach for Sarlat. En-route, our expert Group Leader will lead a discussion on the history and culture of the Périgord. We will stop along the way to explore the Cave of Rouffignac (Cave of a Hundred Mammoths). On arrival, we will board an electric train with a local expert. We’ll travel through the caverns and observe and learn about more than 250 animal figure etchings made over 140 centuries ago.

Lunch: We will provide meal vouchers known as “tickets restaurant” that can be used at restaurants, bakeries, brasseries, and cafés displaying a TR sticker on the window with messages such as this: “Nous acceptons les Tickets Restaurant.” (Change is not given back if the meal cost is less than the value of the voucher.) The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We will meet a local truffle hunter. This local expert will teach us about truffle mushrooms, how they grow, and where to find them. This product is famous in the Périgord region's cuisine, and is one of the most coveted types of mushrooms in the world. After, we will return to Sarlat via motorcoach and enjoy some independent time. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of water, wine, soft drink; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Dordogne Valley, Region Specialties, Medieval Bastides
Sarlat
B,L
Best Western Le Renoir

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 15 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; even and uneven terrain, cobblestone streets. Standing for up to 2 hours during field trips.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll have independent time to explore the Sarlat open air markets. These markets display food from local farms and are an important part of French culture. Then we’ll ride to Vitrac. On arrival, we’ll set out on a walking field trip with our Group Leader to explore the town. We’ll learn about its history.

Lunch: We’ll ride to a local restaurant in Vitrac. We'll enjoy the gourmet tastes of the Périgord through a cooking demonstration at the chef-owned restaurant. The chef will show us how to prepare regional dishes. After the demonstration, we will have a plated meal, featuring what was prepared by the chef. There will be a beverage choice of water, wine, coffee; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll board our motorcoach and ride to Domme, a typical bastide (fortified towns built in the 13th and 14th centuries). En route, our Group Leader will provide an introduction to bastides. On arrival, we’ll set out to explore the site on foot. We’ll observe the bastide structures and learn about the history of the town and its role in The 100 Years’ War. We will ride through the Dordogne valley to La Roque Gageac. We’ll have a brief stop to stretch our legs and take in the scenery. Then we will return to Sarlat via motorcoach with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like in Sarlat.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Lascaux IV, Prehistoric Art, Museum of Prehistory, Sarlat
Sarlat
B,L,D
Best Western Le Renoir

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 48 miles, approximately 1.5 hours including stops. Walking up to 2 miles; even and uneven ground. Standing up to 2 hours during field trips.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will depart via motorcoach to see the replica of the famous prehistoric cave, Lascaux IV. En-route, our Group Leader will lecture on the prehistoric art of the Périgord region. On arrival, we will explore the cave using audio provided by the museum. Then we will continue to St. Leon sur Vézère via motorcoach.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of water, wine, soft drink; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will ride via motorcoach to Les Eyzies in the Vézère valley. On arrival, we'll go on a field trip to the Musée National de Préhistoire (the National Prehistory Museum of France). This museum houses the largest Paleolithic collection from prehistoric sites in the Vézère Valley. A local expert will take us through the museum and point out highlights, while providing expert commentary. After, we will board the motorcoach and return to Sarlat with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Sarlat, we’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of water, wine, soft drink; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We'll go on a walking exploration of Sarlat at night, when the picturesque stone streets and buildings are illuminated.

DAY
9
Medieval St-Céré, Jean Lurçat Museum, Gouffre de Padirac
Rocamadour
B,L,D
Beau Site Notre Dame

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 65 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking up to 3 miles; unavoidable steps, cobble stone streets, even ground; wet, dark, potentially slippery conditions in cave. Standing up to 2 hours during field trips. Use of elevator during field trips. Note: from where the elevator stops at the bottom, there are about 70 additional steps to the cave river; with railings. Getting on/off boats.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will take the motorcoach to the medieval village of St. Céré. With our Group Leader, we’ll set out on a walking field trip to explore the village. We’ll learn about its architectural heritage as we observe the historic houses and mansions, and the beautiful Mercadial square. After, we will go to the Jean Lurçat Museum to learn about and admire Lurçat's artistically woven tapestries. A local expert will teach us about the artist’s life and artistic techniques. After, we will board the motorcoach and head to Gouffre de Padirac.

Lunch: En route, we’ll stop at a local restaurant. We’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of water or wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll board a boat and explore the natural wonder of Gouffre de Padirac (Padirac Chasm). Onboard, a local expert will teach us the science behind this cave. Scientists are not sure when the Gouffre was created, but it is believed to have existed for hundreds of thousands of years. It was shaped slowly over the course of many years; water eroded the limestone vault of an old underground chamber and eventually, the vault collapsed, leaving the gaping hole we see today. We will board the motorcoach and continue on to Rocamadour. On arrival, we will check-in to our hotel and have some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of water, wine, soft drink; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Cave Paintings of Pech Merle, Rocamadour
Rocamadour
B,L
Beau Site Notre Dame

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 65 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; uneven ground; up to 40 unavoidable steps with railings. NOTE: Rocamadour is built into the side of a cliff and is primarily a pedestrian only village; some stairs may be avoided by using the escalator, but in the village there are many unavoidable steps; uneven and inclined terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will travel via motorcoach to Pech Merle. A local expert will lead us through the cave. As we observe the authentic prehistoric paintings (over 20,000 years old) conserved on the walls of the Pech Merle cave, our local expert will provide expert commentary on the meaning and history behind the cave art. Some of the figures we will see include mammoths, bison, and horses depicted in their natural habitat. After, we will board our motorcoach and head back to Rocamadour.

Lunch: En route, we will stop at a local restaurant. We’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of water, wine, soft drink; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: On arrival in Rocamadour, our Group Leader will take us on an exploration of this exceptional village. Rocamadour was one of the most famous pilgrimage sites during the medieval period. This charming village sits perched on the rugged face of a cliff rising 492 feet above the Alzou Canyon. We will follow the path of pilgrims up the Great Stairway. After, we will walk through the streets of the village. As we explore, our Group Leader will teach us about the history and religious significance of Rocamadour.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Toulouse & Post-Impressionism, Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec
Toulouse
B,L,D
BW Collection Domaine de Montjoie

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 153 miles, approximately 3 hours including stops. Standing up 2 hours during field trips.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of our hotel, we’ll travel via motorcoach to the small city of Albi. During our ride, the Group Leader will teach us about Toulouse Lautrec and post-Impressionism. Albi was the capital of the Gallo-Roman Albigenses and later became of the viscounty of Albigeois. After the Albigensian Crusade in 1209, and later the Inquisition, it was captured by bishops of the crown and established as a Christian city. In more contemporary history, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a native of Albi and still has a presence there today.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Albi, we’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of water, wine, soft drink; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will walk to the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec. Housed inside a 13th century palace, this museum has the largest collection of Toulouse-Lautrec's works in the world. On our docent-led exploration, we’ll examine some of his works and learn more about the artist. After, we will board the motorcoach and ride to our hotel in Toulouse. After checking in, we’ll have some time to relax and freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of wine, coffee, tea, water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Languedoc Region & the Occitan People, Historic Toulouse
Toulouse
B,L,D
BW Collection Domaine de Montjoie

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles; cobblestone and even terrain. Standing up to 2 hours during field trips.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with a variety of foods and beverage choices of juice, milk, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: At the hotel, we'll hear a lecture from a local expert on the Languedoc Region in general and learn about the Occitan People and culture. After, we will ride our motorcoach to the center of Toulouse.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Toulouse, we’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of wine, soft drink, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: With a local expert, we’ll set out on a walking field trip to explore historic Toulouse. We will stop at the Saint Sernin Basilica (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the largest Romanesque church in Western Europe. We will also explore the City Hall located within the Capitole building. Although originally built in 1190, the Place du Capitole has been redesigned and rebuilt many times over the years. The only original medieval remnant is the courtyard of Henry IV.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Carcassonne & the Cathars, Free Time
Toulouse
B,L,D
BW Collection Domaine de Montjoie

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; driving about 116 miles, approximately 2.5 hours round trip. Walking up to 2 miles; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will ride via motorcoach to the historic fortified city of Carcassonne. En route, our Group Leader will give an expert lecture on the Cathars. On arrival, we’ll set out with our Group Leader on a walking field trip to explore the city and learn about its history. Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This village has been a fortified settlement since the pre-Roman period. Over the years, settlements withered and new ones were built. What we will see today is the remains of a medieval era fortified town.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Carcassonne, we'll enjoy a plated meal featuring Toulouse-style Cassoulet, a slow-cooked casserole containing meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck and sometimes mutton) and white navy beans. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides. The meal will be serve with water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will return to Toulouse via motorcoach. Free time in Toulouse. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with a beverage choice of wine, coffee, tea, water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
In flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon. See your program’s Travel Information regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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