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Embark on a gastronomic journey from Bordeaux to Toulouse, tasting the iconic flavours of French cuisine and gaining an appreciation for the rich cultural heritage that defines it. Join skilled truffle hunters unearthing hidden treasures and indulge in creamy Rocamodour cheese.
Explore Tour Leader
7 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 15 Explore average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Bordeaux, a vibrant and historic city located in southwestern France, known for its rich wine culture, beautiful architecture, and picturesque surroundings.
If you would like to receive an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Bordeaux-Merignac Airport (BOD) which is around 45 minutes from the hotel depending on traffic.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 5pm for a guided walk of the highlights of Bordeaux including the Monument of Girondins, St Andre Cathedral, and the Place de la Bourse. The tour will end with an aperitif in a local bar with the opportunity to go for dinner as a group afterwards.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you may like to take a stroll along the quays of the Garonne River, admire the city's neoclassical buildings, charming squares, and grand monuments or visit the Contemporary Art Museum.
Hotel Madame (or similar)
We start the day with a scenic train journey from Bordeaux to the picturesque seaside town of Arcachon on the Atlantic coast. Upon arrival we dive into the lively atmosphere of the vibrant fish market, where local fishermen bring in their daily catch. After taking a good look around, we will have the opportunity to try some of the fresh oysters that Arcachon is famous for. For a special lunch experience, we'll take a seat in the famous Le Bouchon Market, an indoor treasure trove of local produce, artisanal goods, and local specialities.
After our included lunch, we return to Bordeaux and cap off the day with a visit to the city's renowned wine museum, the Cite du Vin, where you can immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Bordeaux's world-class wines. We'll cruise along the Garonne by river ferry to the museum and after an initial introduction with your Tour Leader you are free to explore the vast museum and make your own way back to the hotel when you are ready. It's around a half hour pleasant walk back to the hotel along the riverside promenade or, if you prefer, you can return by boat, bus or tram using the 3-day public transport pass included with this holiday.
Today we take the train to the enchanting medieval village of Saint-Emilion, nestled in the heart of Bordeaux's wine country, it's famous for picturesque vineyards and rolling hills. On arrival we'll be driven by electric buggy to nearby Chateau Coutet, an esteemed wine estate both the largest and oldest Barsac estate in Farnce. They produce the finest Barsac-Sauternes under the direction and management of the Baly family. We 'll discover the secrets of winemaking and sample some of the world-class vintages that have made this village a wine lover's paradise. After our visit we return to Saint-Emilion to explore the village with its charming, cobbled streets, steeped in centuries of winemaking tradition.
Returning to Bordeaux by train in the afternoon we plan to stop at a local patisserie and refuel on the famous mouth-watering Cannelé pastry, a classic French pastry known for its distinctive small, fluted shape and caramelized crust, originating from the Bordeaux region. Our Tour Leader will explain the labour-intensive process behind making these delicate sweet treats.
We say farewell to Bordeaux this morning and head by train to Sarlat, a town known for its beauty and well-preserved medieval architecture, gothic cathedral, and rich food history. The region around Sarlat is famous for the traditional dishes of duck confit, foie gras, walnut based desserts and truffles. Truffles are a type of fungi that grow underground, typically near the roots of certain trees, such as oak and hazelnut trees. They are highly prized in the culinary world for their strong, unique flavour and aroma. On arrival to Sarlat we head to a local black truffle producer where we learn more about these prized fungi and with specially trained dogs, head outside with our hosts using the traditional methods to locate these elusive earthy treasures.
Returning to Sarlat, we'll take an orientation tour of the town with our Tour Leader. Making our way through the narrow winding streets with their timber houses and stone buildings dating back to the 14th century, we'll end up at the impressive 12th century cathedral.
Tonight, you will meet for dinner and go to a local family-run restaurant to try one of the many delicious duck dishes the area is famed for.
Hotel Renoir (or similar)
This morning we head out on foot to the famous Sarlat market. Exploring the markets is not only a great way to sample the produce and flavours of the region but also to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of this charming French town. As we walk through the market your Tour Leader will explain the produce and offer samples to try, these might include regional cheeses, duck sausage and walnut cakes. The French delicacy Foie gras will no doubt be a discussion point, the process of force-feeding geese or ducks to enlarge their liver is banned in the UK due to animal welfare laws but not in France. France is the world's largest producer and consumer of fois gras, and it will be on sale throughout the market.
After our tasting tour of the market there is free time to explore more of the food stalls or the local handicrafts section of the market. This afternoon there is the opportunity to take a cookery class with a chef known locally for his garden to plate seasonal menus and learn more about the principal cooking techniques and ingredients of the region. Alternatively, you could head out on the Dordogne River and take a guided canoe tour, weather permitting and enjoy and afternoon paddling downstream.
After breakfast we leave the hotel by chartered bus and head to Gouffre du Padirac cave, located in the Lot region. The cave system is a mesmerizing subterranean world of underground rivers and stunning rock formations. We stroll through the winding tunnels and take a boat ride on the underground river, an experience that will leave you in awe of the Earth's natural wonders. After exploration of the cave, it's time to savour the local flavours with a delightful cheese-themed lunch. The Dordogne region is renowned for its exceptional cheese production with the most famous being Rocamadour, a small, creamy, and disc-shaped cheese with a mild, smooth flavour. Our lunch, at a local cheese producers farm, will feature an array of regional cheeses, fresh bread, and perhaps some local wines. Once we've satisfied our taste buds, our journey continues as we drive to the enchanting, medieval pilgrimage town of Rocamadour, perched dramatically on a cliffside. We will enjoy the majestic views of this village perched on the rock and of the surrounding landscapes.
Next, we drive to the vibrant city of Toulouse. Toulouse is known as 'La Ville Rose', The Pink City, due to its distinctive terracotta buildings. On arrival, we will make a delightful stop at a local pastry shop, where we can uncover the secrets behind the renowned chocolatine! We try the chocolate filled flaky pastry creation and learn why it's not called a pain au chocolate in this region of France. Toulouse is a dynamic and culturally rich city, this evening has been left free to explore its historic centre, enjoy a gourmet dinner (not included) at one of the city's fine restaurants, or simply wander through the lively streets and soak in the atmosphere - a fitting finale to the day.
Quality Hotel (or similar)
Today we make a day trip to one of the region's most visually spectacular settings, the walled fortress of Carcassonne. It was once one of the most important and powerful cities in the south, before the all-consuming Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars saw the town fall to the notorious onslaught of the forces of Simon de Montfort. We will have an orientation walk with our Tour leader to explore the heart of Carcassonne known as 'La Cité,' including the outside of the Château Comtal (Count's Castle), which offers a glimpse into the medieval history of the city and the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, an impressive Gothic cathedral. After free time for lunch, we meet again to visit a local sample Blanquette de Limoux. A local sparkling wine similar to Crémant, it has a crisp and refreshing character and is one of the oldest sparkling wines in the world, with a history dating back several centuries, even before the famous sparkling wines of Champagne. We end the day with a group meal at a small local restaurant known for the dish Cassoulet, a hearty and flavourful casserole-like dish made with a variety of ingredients, including beans, meat (usually pork or sausages), and sometimes duck or other poultry. Cassoulet is known for its rich and satisfying flavours, making it a beloved comfort food in French cuisine.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Toulouse.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Toulouse at any time. If you would like to receive an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS). Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may have some additional time to wander in the streets of Toulouse or buy your last souvenirs before departure.
Across France, from April - August, weather conditions are generally warm and pleasant with moderate rainfall; Autumn temperatures are a bit lower and the winter months (though colder) remain mild. The summer months on the Mediterranean Coast in the south tend to be warmer than the rest of France and have less rainfall, and also more mild winters; freezing conditions are nearly unheard of. The mountainous areas of the Alps, Juros and Pyrenees can be quite different. During summer the morning and evening temperatures are considerably cooler and it becomes much colder in winter with heavy snowfall. Western France, along the English Channel, there can be very strong winds and frequent rain during the winter months Nov - Apr. Wine harvesting takes place in late August/early September.
2 Pin Round
Sarlat Cooking class - €100 Canoeing on the Dordogne River - €25
Pack essentially for hot weather. During the day you can expect to live in T-shirts and shorts, but you may wish to bring smart casual wear for the evenings. Bring a warm fleece for cool evenings and raingear for occasional rain. May, June and September may be slightly cooler. Please note that French health regulations require that men wear 'proper' (Lycra) swimming trunks in pools and not shorts.
Comfortable lightweight walking shoes or trainers are recommended for walking tours and sightseeing, plus sandals for relaxing.
You'll need one main piece of baggage and a small daypack for when you're out and about exploring. As you'll be taking care of your own luggage on trains, it's really important for your enjoyment not to overload yourself.
Consider bringing a sunhat and sun cream, torch, earplugs and insect repellent
Bus, Boat, Train
You won't be able to participate fully in this trip if you have a restrictive diet due to the nature of the food inclusions. We do not feel this trip is suited for vegetarians, vegans, and those with specific dietary restrictions. We have purposely not included all the meals on this trip to allow you the opportunity to experience a variety of different restaurants of your choice. On many evenings the trip leader will facilitate a group dining experience for those wishing to join in. There are also some Michelin recommended dining experiences available on this trip. Those with stars would need to be booked well in advance of the trip. The cost of these meals vary greatly. Toulouse - 1 Michelin Star - Stéphane Tournié - Les Jardins de l'Opéra -https://lesjardinsdelopera.fr Toulouse - Bib Gourmand - L'Air de Famille - https://airdefamilletoulouse.fr/home Bordeaux - 1 Michelin Star - L'Observatoire du Gabriel - https://le-gabriel-bordeaux.fr Bordeaux - 2 Michelin Star - Le Pressoir d'Argent - Gordon Ramsay - https://bordeaux.intercontinental.com/le-pressoir-dargent-gordon-ramsay
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
France: Visas are not required by UK, EU, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory. Tetanus recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.