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Highlights of the French Dordogne and Carcassonne
8 days
France - Trip code DOG

Highlights of the French Dordogne and Carcassonne

On this holiday you'll get to experience many of the highlights and spectacular scenery in the south of France. Our trip begins in Bordeaux and from here you'll get to sample local wines, admire cave paintings, walk in picturesque countryside, discover some of the most beautiful towns and villages in the Dordogne, see Carcassonne's famous castle, cruise on Canal du Midi and much more. On our 9-Jul-16 departure you'll also get to experience the fun of the Grand Falconer's Festival in Cordes-sur-Ciel and a spectacular firework display in Carcassonne.

Trip highlights

  • Beautiful towns and scenery - Get out on foot in the countryside and Medieval streets of the south of France with the chance to walk on the Way of Saint James and the Mayronnes Sculpture Trail
  • Dordogne - Discover La Roque Gageac, one of the 'most beautiful villages in France'
  • Rocamadour - Stay in the gravity defying town which clings to rocky cliffs above the Alzou River
  • Albi - Explore the UNESCO listed Old City of this once independent state
  • Carcassonne - Stroll around the fortified city, which is one of the region's best known landmarks
  • Canal du Midi - Enjoy a dinner cruise along this famous 17th century waterway
Accommodation grade:
Standard
Our standard, mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service, often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en suite facilities.
Trip pace:
Full on
Full on paced trips are for travellers who like their holidays packed with activities and experiences, moving on quickly from place to place with lots of early starts and long, busy days. Some may find them tiring, but others get a buzz from packing their precious holiday-time as chock-a-block full of new experiences as possible!
Group Size:
12 - 18
Maximum group size ranges from between 6 to 20 people, depending on the type of trip, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. We rarely have groups that are smaller than five or six people and the average is 12 people plus an Explore leader.

Itinerary

Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Join trip in Bordeaux

Our trip begins in Bordeaux, a famed wine growing area in the south west of France. After checking in to our hotel and meeting the group, this evening is at leisure for you to enjoy your first taste of this beautiful city, much of which is UNESCO World Heritage listed. The Medieval Saint Pierre District is a great spot to enjoy a nightcap or perhaps in one of the hip wine bars in the Chartrons Quarter.

Accommodation: Hotel Le Chantry(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 2 - Bordeaux tour, wine tasting, Lascaux Cave and the Vezere Valley

This morning our Explore Leader will take us on a walking tour of the city centre, visiting its most important sights including the Monuments aux Girondins, Saint Andrew Cathedral, Place de la Bourse and the Chartrons Quarter. Lastly we visit the city's Wine and Trade Museum, which will give us an introduction to Bordeaux's wine story and we will enjoy a tasting of a merlot and cabernet sauvignon wine. There'll be time for you to grab a light lunch before we leave the city and drive to Lascaux Cave. The cave contains replicas of France's most famous pre-historic paintings, as unfortunately due to the damp nature of the cave it isn't possible to see the originals anymore as they are too delicate to be exposed, but they have been meticulously copied so that the replicas offer a very accurate representation of the drawings. We have a guided tour to see some of the 2,000 figures painted on the walls which range from recognisable animals to abstract symbols. We drive on to the Vezere Valley where we'll take a short walk to admire the view of the natural beauty in this scenic river valley. Lastly we will drive onto Rocamadour where we spend the next two nights, we'll arrive at around 8.00pm and you'll have the rest of the evening free to relax after a busy first day discovering the diverse attractions that this area has to offer. Rocamadour is a town built on a steep rock bluff in a gorge above the Alzou River, which is some 150 metres below.

Accommodation: Hotel Relais Amadourien(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 3 - See some of France's most beautiful towns and villages in Dordogne

Today we're going to be discovering some of the highlights of the Dordogne region. After breakfast we begin with our Explore Leader taking us on a walking tour of this fortified village and visiting the Notre Dame Chapel. The town is known for its picturesque setting and as one of the most important pilgrimage sites in France. There are layer upon layer of historic buildings and eight chapels clinging to the rock face. The Notre Dame Chapel or 'Chapel of Miracles' as it is known is home to a statue of the Black Madonna, which has worshipped for over a thousand years. We drive next to Sarlat-la-Caneda, which is a Medieval town known for its truffles, cheeses and tobacco. Most of modern history has passed the town by, so it's brilliantly preserved and gives you an excellent sense of what a 14th century French town would be like. You'll have time free here to have lunch before we continue to Beynac-et-Cazenac. The village is best known for its impressive castle which overlooks the houses and Dordogne River below. From the castle leads a myriad of pretty cobbled streets lined with photogenic old buildings. Next we drive on to La Roque Gageac which has won an award for being one of the 'most beautiful villages in France'. This little village is sandwiched between the Dordogne River and the cliff faces behind it. All the buildings are built in the traditional style with yellow stone walls and stone tiled roofs. Lastly before returning to Rocamadour for the evening we drive to Domme. The village was founded in 1281 by Philip the Bold and in 1307 the Knights Templar were imprisoned here and their scrawling can still be seen etched into the prison walls. Other notable buildings are the Town Hall, Governors House and the covered market, Halle de Domme, which is also the entrance to the Domme Caves.

Accommodation: Hotel Relais Amadourien(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 4 - Discover Cahors and take a walk along the Way of Saint James

This morning we drive to Cahors in the Lot Valley where on arrival we'll get to see the famous fortified bridge, Pont Valentre, which is also known as the devil's bridge. When the bridge was restored in 1879 the architect made reference to this by placing a small devil sculpture on top of one of the towers. We also see Saint-Etienne Cathedral, which has a mix of Romanesque and gothic architecture and is located in the heart of town. Cahors is surrounded by vineyards and has a long wine making history, which dates back to the times of Ancient Rome. Its best known for its red wines made from the Malbec grape, which you might like to sample later today. Before giving you time for lunch our Explore Leader will take us on a walk (for approximately two hours over a distance of five kilometres) along the Way of Saint James. This route is the most popular of the four pilgrimage trails which eventually lead all the way to Santiago de Compostela over the Midi-Pyrenees Mountains. Our walk today will take us through some of the lovely scenery along the Lot River Valley. This afternoon is free for you to relax in Cahors or perhaps to enjoy a wine tasting at Villa Malbec or if you're travelling in summer you could take a boat cruise along the Lot River. Cahors is known for its hearty cuisine and casseroles are especially popular. Many dishes include chestnuts, wild mushrooms, walnut oil, garlic and truffles. Walnut liqueur is a local speciality that's well worth trying.

Accommodation: Hotel Le Valentre(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 5 - Visit Cordes-sur-Ciel and take a walking tour of Albi

We leave Cahors this morning and drive to Cordes-sur-Ciel, which is named to indicate that it's located high above the clouds. The town is set on a rocky hill which often sits above low-lying clouds. This fortified town has countless narrow streets to explore, which are lined with Gothic arches and timber framed buildings. You'll also find the contemporary garden of Jardin des Paradis and a more unusual attraction is the Museum of the Arts of Sugar and Chocolate. Later this afternoon we'll drive to Albi, which was once an independent state. On arrival our Explore Leader will take us on a walking orientation tour of the town and you'll then have free time to visit the cathedral should you wish. The Old City (Episcopal) of Albi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a brilliant example of Medieval architecture with its imposing Gothic cathedral in the centre. This compact city is one of France's most attractive and is located on the banks of the Tarn River. The old bridge, Pont Vieux, and Saint-Salvi Quarter are a couple of the main attractions.

Accommodation: Hotel du Vigan(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 6 - Train to Carcassonne and dinner cruise on the Canal du Midi

This morning we travel by local train to Carcassonne and on arrival we'll take a taxi to our hotel for the next two nights. After checking-in our Explore Leader will take us to see the Medieval citadel, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortified city is one of the region's best known landmarks, built on a hilltop it's been a stronghold for around 2000 years. The castle is surrounded by two sets of thick defensive walls dotted with 52 stone towers. Inside the citadel is a maze of cobbled streets and courtyards with a number of shops and restaurants to discover. After getting our bearings we have some free time here. Later this afternoon we'll take a taxi the short distance to the Canal du Midi where we join a cruise with dinner served on board (lasting approximately two hours). Dinner will be a 3-course limited choice menu with water and coffee included. The Canal du Midi is considered to be one of the greatest constructions of the 17th century. It has a total of 99 locks and 130 bridges over its 241 kilometre length, which was an old trading route between Languedoc and Aquitaine. It travels through some of the south of France's most beautiful countryside. Following the cruise we'll return to Carcassonne.

Accommodation: Hotel Espace Cite(or similar)

Standard Yurt
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 7 - Free day in Carcassonne; chance to cycle the Canal du Midi

Today is free in Carcassonne. The city holds a wealth of delights, from the twin towers of the Porte Narbonnaise to the spectacular Chateau Comtal and the Basilica of Saint Nazarius and Celsus. There's also the opportunity for you to take a tour to see some of the Cathar Castles such as Lastours and Saissac and to take a walk along the Mayronnes Sculpture Trail (around 45 minutes drive south east of Carcassonne), where a variety of contemporary sculptures lead you on a walk for approximately two and a half hours through the picturesque countryside. Or perhaps you'd like to rent a bike to cycle along a section of the Canal du Midi.

Accommodation: Hotel Espace Cite(or similar)

Standard Yurt
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 8 - Visit to the Space Museum and trip ends at Toulouse Airport

Today we head for Toulouse where we'll have time to visit the Space Museum before we're dropped off at Toulouse Airport where the trip ends. It is Europe's best space museum with over 12 acres of attractions to discover including 250 interactive exhibits. You'll be able to see a replica MIR Space Station and Ariane 5 satellite launcher as well as a planetarium and IMAX 3D cinema that takes you into the heart of space.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

What's included?

Included meals
  • Breakfast: 7
  • Dinner: 1
Transport
  • Bus
  • Boat
Trip staff
  • Explore Tour Leader
  • Driver(s)
Accommodation
  • 5 nights standard hotel
  • 2 nights standard yurt
Award Winning Explore Leaders
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Price Guarantee Promise
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Airport Transfers
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FairFX currency card
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Trip information

Country information

France Holidays & Tours

Climate

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.

Time difference to GMT

+1

Plugs

2 Pin Round

Religion

Catholic

Language

French

Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

Cahors: Wine tasting at Villa Malbec €5.00; Lot River boat trip (July and August only) €15.00-30.00 (depending on the number of participants). Albi: Cathedral entrance €5.00. Carcassonne: Cathar Castles such as Lastours and Saissac entrance €3.00-6.00 per castle (transportation costs to be advised by your Explore Leader depending on the number of passengers that want to participate); Mayronnes Sculpture Trail approximately €20.00-30.00 for transportation (depending on number of participants); rent a bike along the Canal du Midi approximately €10.00-12.00 per day.

Clothing

In spring and summer, lightweight clothing is best during the day plus warmer clothing for colder nights. We also recommend taking a lightweight raincoat and an umbrella.

Footwear

Comfortable walking shoes and sandals or trainers for relaxing.

Luggage

20kg

Luggage: On tour

One main piece of baggage and a daypack for personal items. Remember that you'll have to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.

Equipment

We recommend taking insect repellent (if travelling in summer), sunscreen, sunglasses and a torch. Most importantly don't forget your camera.

Tipping

Explore leader
At your discretion you might also consider tipping your Explore Leader in appreciation of the efficiency and service you receive.
Local crew
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. Accordingly you should allow approximately £20.00 for tips. In order to make things easier for you, the Explore Leader may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the trip.
Country Information

France Holidays & Tours

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Lunch price
£11
Dinner price
£16.00 - 18.00
Beer price
£4
Water price
£1.3
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Euro
Recommended Currency For Exchange
Pounds Sterling and US Dollars can only be changed in larger airports with a Bureau de Change. Please change currency into Euros prior to arriving in France.
Where To Exchange
Bureau de Change can only be found in major cities and large airports. Many French banks no longer exchange Foreign currency.
ATM Availability
In cities and most major towns
Credit Card Acceptance
In major restaurants (make sure you have informed your credit card company that you are travelling abroad as some companies will reject payments)
Travellers Cheques
Travellers Cheques are no longer commonly accepted and can only be changed in larger airports with a Bureau de Change.

Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, Boat

Accommodation notes

Booking a Single Room

All of our group tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travellers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation. Please refer to the tour notes where the single room option availability is detailed on a night by night basis for this tour, and the price for the available nights is detailed on the dates & prices tab by departure date. For Self-Guided trips the Single Room supplement offers the option of a single room each and is charged per person. The Single Room supplement also applies to the third person in a party of three that will be accommodated in a single room.


Due to the size of the accommodation we will be using in Cahors we will have rooms split between two hotels that are adjacent to one another and are of the same standard.

Essential information

FCO Advice

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 Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here
 

Under 18 immigration guidance

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.

Essential Information

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa Information

France: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.


If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may consider applying 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.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Transfers

Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

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.


Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The transfers will be from the Explore designated airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. 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 Self-Guided, Tailormade or Tours for Churches 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

Insurance

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. 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.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.


Flight Information

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.

  

Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

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.

Included activities

This holiday is designed to acquaint you with the highlights of the South of France in just 8 days. On Day 6 we'll be using trains between the towns to experience travelling like the locals do and you'll need to be able to carry your luggage on/off the trains. Most of our explorations within the towns and cities visited are done on foot and there are also a couple of included walking excursions as well, so please bring sensible footwear and be prepared for the busy nature and amount of walking involved in this enthralling holiday.

Non refundable permits

France Holidays & Tours

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory. Tetanus recommended. 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 http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider.

Dates, prices and booking

Date
Price from
Single room option

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