Day 1, Saturday: Arrival in Toulouse and check in at your hotel in the heart of the city. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure for some exploration on your own. Tonight we will enjoy a welcome dinner in town. D.
Day 2, Sunday: Toulouse - Today we will start with a guided visit of Toulouse’s historic center. The “pink city” as it is nicknamed, offers a rich cultural heritage. We will visit the city’s main landmarks- 16th century Capitole (City Hall), the Romanesque St. Sernin Basilica, and Church of the Jacobins. Our stroll through the historic center will lead us to admire beautiful Renaissance architecture; like the Hotel d’Assezat and Hotel de Bernuy. In the afternoon, you’llhave free time to explore the town on your own. We recommend a visit of the Fondation Bemberg, which holds an important collection of Matisse, Bonnard and Toulouse Lautrec. Evening free. B
Day 3, Monday: Today we will go on a excursion to Albi, birthplace of Toulouse Lautrec. We will visit the red-brick fortress church of St. Cecil built in the 12th century as a statement of the Christian faith after the upheavals of the Cathar heresy. Adjoining the cathedral is the Palais de la Berbie, formerly the bishop palace of Albi and now a museum devoted to the works of the city’s son – Toulouse Lautrec. We will also explore the ancient lanes of Old Albi lined with fine Renaissance and half-timbered houses including the artist’s birthplace. Returning to Toulouse, we will stop for wine tasting in Gaillac. B/L
Day 4, Tuesday: Today we will visit Carcassonne - A Unesco World Heritage site. Since the Romans, Carcassonne has been identified as a strategic spot. The Visigoths built more fortifications and in the Middle Ages, Carcassonne was at the heart of military conflicts that opposed the Cathars, religious heretics that were given refuge here by Raymond Roger Trencavel and Simon de Montfort in his crusade against heresy. In 1226, Carcassonne was ceded to the King of France-Saint Louis who transforms it into a Royal fortress dedicated to defending the Franco-Spanish border. We will enjoy lunch and have some time to explore the old town. Before returning to Toulouse, we’ll have look at the Canal du Midi a man-made waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic. It was built by engineer Pierre Paul Riquet in the 17th century and is considered as one of the greatest engineering achievement of the modern age by UNESCO. Return to Toulouse for the night. B/L
Day 5, Wednesday: Pech Merle, St. Cirq Lapopie and SarlatOur journey will take us north to the Dordogne region. We will cross the beautiful Lot valley and stop in Saint Cirq Lapopie. This picturesque village sits 300ft above the river Lot, its wood-framed houses built into the cliffs. We will also stop at the prehistoric caves of Pech Merle to admire 20,000 year old paintings and footprints of ancient cave dwellers. Upon our arrival in Sarlat we will take a guided stroll through this picturesque town lined with well-preserved Medieval and Renaissance architecture. Check in at our hotel in Sarlat which will serve as a base for our discovery of the Dordogne. B/L/D.
Day 6, Thursday: Prehistoric Caves of Lasaux/St. Amand de Coly/ La Roque St. Christophe After breakfast we will depart for a discovery of some of the most beautiful villages of France. We will stop in Saint Genies followed by St. Amand de Coly characterized by its fortified abbey. We will then head to the Lascaux II cave to admire the faithful reproductions of the original prehistoric cave paintings found nearby. After lunch in a country restaurant we will continue with a visit of La Roque Saint Christophe, steep limestone cliffs over the Vezere River poked with crevices that have served as shelters from Prehistoric times through the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We will return to Sarlat for dinner B//L
Day 7, Friday: Sarlat/Dordogne River Valley Today we will go on a tour of the picturesque Dordogne River valley lined with many cliff- top castles like Castelnaud and Beynac. We will stop at the picture postcard village of Roque Gageac and take a scenic cruise on the Dordogne River on a Gabarre (traditional boat). After lunch we will visit the Chateau des Millandes, a Renaissance castle and for a while the home of American entertainer Josephine Baker. Return to Sarlat for the evening. B/L
Day 8, Saturday: Sarlat Market/Garden of EyrignacThis morning we will enjoy free time to discover the lively market of Sarlat and its bounty of produce, gastronomic specialties and local crafts. In the afternoon, we will tour the Garden of Eyrignac considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens in France. This is an example of French style gardens, ordered, structured and sculpted with boxwoods, topiaries, yew trees and cypresses. This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner in town. B/D
Day 9, Sunday: After breakfast we will transfer to Brive la Gaillarde rail station for our transfer to Paris (Transfer to Bordeaux can be arranged for a supplement). B
B = breakfast; L : Lunch: D = Dinner
- 8 nights accommodation double occupancy in charming hotels (4 nights in Toulouse and 4 in Sarlat) Daily breakfasts
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Europe France Local Culture Cultural Journey Food & Wine