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 (5)
Program No. 14253RJ
Length
14 days
Starts at
3,389
Flights start at
875
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14 days
13 nights
30 meals
12 B 10 L 8 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In flight
DAY
2
Arrive Bordeaux, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Bordeaux
D
Hotel Bordeaux Bayonne Etche Ona

Activity note: The motorcoach drop off point is 300 feet from the hotel entrance on a narrow, historic street; luggage handling by porters.

Morning: After checking in and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session at 5:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Orientation: 5:00 p.m. We will gather in our private meeting room where 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. Travel and transfers will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. Periods in the daily 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: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated and served 3-course meal with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Bordeaux History & The Wine Trade
Bordeaux
B,L
Hotel Bordeaux Bayonne Etche Ona

Activity note: Use of public transportation. Walking up to 2 miles during the day with frequent stops.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes hot and cold choices plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Our knowledgeable Group Leader will give us an introductory presentation on Bordeaux. We’ll then set out on a walking field trip through Bordeaux’s historic center and explore Saint-André Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At a local market, we’ll enjoy tasting canelé, the signature pastry of Bordeaux. These crispy, caramelized cakes were a by-product of wine-making and we will learn their story.

Lunch: At the Wine Museum in the Chartrons District, we’ll have a shared selection of local sausages and cheese plus an expert-led wine tasting.

Afternoon: Next, we will take a field trip to the Museum of Aquitaine for a self-directed exploration. The first exhibit in Bordeaux of relics from ancient history took place in 1594, but the genesis of a museum of monuments and relics from earlier eras dates to 1781. Numerous changes took place over the years until the Museum of Aquitaine was created in its present form in 1962. Today, it is regarded as a leading museum of history, heritage, and culture for its collections spanning pre-history to the present day.

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
Bordeaux Region, The Châteaux, Villages & Vineyards of Médoc
Bordeaux
B,L,D
Hotel Bordeaux Bayonne Etche Ona

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Total drive time throughout the day about 50 miles, approximately 2 hours aboard the motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles, frequent stops.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: En route to our field trip in the Médoc wine region, the Group Leader will provide information on the history and economic impact of Médoc wines. We’ll then have an expert-led wine tasting in a Médoc château.

Lunch: At a local château, we’ll have a light lunch.

Afternoon: We will explore vineyards of the Médoc, then return to the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with wine and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
St. Emilion, Free Time
Bordeaux
B,L
Hotel Bordeaux Bayonne Etche Ona

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles; cobblestones, uneven ground.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will take a field trip to Saint-Emilion, equally famous for its wine and its famous “underground” church. Saint-Emilion Monolithic Church, constructed in the early 12th century is partly subterranean, constructed deep into the limestone. We’ll have an expert-led exploration of the church followed by some independent time to explore the medieval town on our own. The entire jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion (that includes seven other communes) has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will then return to Bordeaux.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most 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. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Grotte de Rouffignac, Arrive Sarlat
Sarlat
B,L,D
Best Western Le Renoir

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and begin our transfer to Sarlat. En route, we’ll have a presentation on the history of the Périgord region. We will stop to explore the Grotte de Rouffignac — Cave of Rouffignac — also known as the Cave of a Hundred Mammoths for its etchings and drawings of prehistoric beasts. The cave system here is immense. While these images are not colorful like those at Lascaux, the number is amazing. There are more than 200 animal figures including 158 of mammoths as well as bison, horses, capricorns (an animal of the Ibex family), woolly rhinoceros, a bear, and even four human figures. We will ride through the caverns on an electric train to view these figures drawn more than 140 centuries ago.

Lunch: We will have vouchers to choose what we like at selected eateries.

Afternoon: We’ll check in to the hotel late afternoon with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

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

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles; uneven ground.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Wednesday is market day in Sarlat. There has been a thriving market here since the medieval era. We will have some independent time to explore the open air market that occupies the town's main squares. We will then go with our Group Leader to Vitrac, a charming village along the Dordogne River.

Lunch: At a chef-owned restaurant, we’ll observe a cooking demonstration and enjoy the tastes of the Perigord.

Afternoon: Back aboard the motorcoach, we’ll have a presentation on “bastides” — fortified towns built during the Middle Ages. We’ll then reach Domme, a bastide overlooking the Dordogne valley. We will then proceed through the Dordogne valley to La Roque Gageac, a scenic town set in the cliffs dropping to the banks of the Dordogne River. We’ll then meet a truffle hunter and learn the secrets of truffles, a product famous in the Perigord region's gastronomy. Following a tasting of the “Black Diamond,” we will return to Sarlat.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Lascaux 4, Musée National de Préistoire
Sarlat
B,L,D
Best Western Le Renoir

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will set out on a field trip to see the replica of the famous prehistoric cave, Lascaux 4. En route, we’ll have a presentation on pre-historic art in the Périogord. We will then continue to Les Eyzies, along the Vézère valley.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: At the Musée National de Préistoire — National Prehistory Museum — we will have a self-directed exploration to view the largest Paleolithic collection from prehistoric sites in the Vézère Valley. The collections trace human artistic endeavor back some 13,000 years from the Font-de-Gaume and Combarelles caves that are listed UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We will then return to Sarlat.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We will go for a delightful walk to see Sarlat at night, when the picturesque stone streets and buildings are illuminated. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
9
Saint-Céré, Gouffre de Padirac
Rocamadour
B,L,D
Best Western Hotel Beau Site Notre Dame

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. At Gouffre de Padirac, elevator to cave and back to surface. At the bottom, there is a further descent via many steps to the underground river more than 300 feet below ground; continuing in boats to reach the Salle du grand Dôme, then return as we came.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will take our motorcoach for a field trip to the town of Saint-Céré that originated circa 780 C.E. We will explore the old town with structures remaining from the medieval era and the Jean Lurçat Museum, housed in the 12th century L’Hôpital Saint-Jean. Lurçat (1982-1966) was an artist and weaver credited with reviving contemporary interest in tapestry art. The museum displays his monumental “Le Chant du Monde” — a collection of ten tapestries presenting his humanistic vision of the 20th century — a well as the works of other artists.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal.

Afternoon: Our next field trip is to the incredible cave system of Gouffre de Padirac. We will descend by elevator more than 300 feet (103 meters) to explore this subterranean world. From there we will move by boat through the caverns beneath wet stalactites, get out of the boat and walk to the Salle du grand Dôme that reaches more than 300 feet high. We’ll have a wine and cheese tasting before arriving in Rocamadour late afternoon and checking in to our hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Cave Painting of Pech Merle, Rocamadour
Rocamadour
B,L
Best Western Hotel Beau Site Notre Dame

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 2 miles. Rocamadour is built into the side of a cliff; most of the village is pedestrian only; many steps. Some stairs may be avoided by using the escalator.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will drive to Pech Merle and explore one of the few sites with pre-historic cave paintings still open to the public. These paintings are more than 20,000 years old and, while in a remarkable state of preservation, are extremely fragile. In order to preserve them, the number of visitors and the duration of the visit are limited. We will be able to see images of mammoths, horses, and other animals, as well as depictions of people.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Returning, we will explore Rocamadour, one of the most famous pilgrimage sites of medieval times. The charming village sits perched on the rugged face of a cliff rising 492 feet above the Alzou Canyon. With our Group Leader, we will follow the path of pilgrims on the Great Stairway. Those who prefer not to make the climb may stroll along the narrow, pedestrian-only streets.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
11
Albì & Toulouse-Lautrec
Toulouse
B,L,D
Best Western Les Capitouls

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will begin our transfer to Albì.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we will have an expert-led exploration of the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, situated in the imposing Palais de la Berbie (Palace of the Bishops). This fortified edifice was built in stages from 1228 to 1306. After France adopted a law separating church and state in 1905, it was transformed into a museum. In 1922, the Countess Adele de Toulouse-Lautrec contributed funds to found a museum showcasing the works of her deceased son, the artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who was born in Albì. We will examine this retrospective of his work. We will check in to the hotel late afternoon.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Toulouse, Historic Capitol of the Languedoc & Occitania
Toulouse
B,L,D
Best Western Les Capitouls

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a local expert for a presentation on the Languedoc region, Occitan people, land, and culture. We will then take a walking field trip to the historic center of Toulouse where we will explore Saint Sernin Basilica, the largest Romanesque church in Western Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Construction began around 1080 and largely finished in 1117, though parts of the cathedral have never been completed. We will also see the Capitole, the seat of administration and town hall, dating from 1750 and considered one of the most beautiful civic buildings in France with its pink brick façade.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal.

Afternoon: We will continue to explore Toulouse with our Group Leader.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will enjoy an iconic local dish, cassoulet, with wine and water included; other beverags available for purchase. This slow-cooked casserole containing meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck, sometimes mutton) and white navy beans. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole — a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanted sides.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Carcassonne, Free Time in Toulouse
Toulouse
B,D
Best Western Les Capitouls

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll set out on a field trip to the historic fortified city of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription, “Since the pre-Roman period, a fortified settlement has existed on the hill where Carcassonne now stands. In its present form it is an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town, with its massive defenses encircling the castle and the surrounding buildings, its streets and its fine Gothic cathedral. Carcassonne is also of exceptional importance because of the lengthy restoration campaign undertaken by Viollet-le-Duc, one of the founders of the modern science of conservation.”

Lunch: On your own in Carcassonne. We will return to Toulouse after lunch.

Afternoon: Free Time. See and do what interests you most in Toulouse. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with water, coffee, wine included; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
14
Program Concludes
In flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. 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. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!