MARSEILLE, FRANCE TO BILBAO, SPAIN
12 days/11 nights – Starting at $4,950 per person double
Departures June and October 2021
- 4 nights in Avignon/ 1 night in Carcassonne /3 nights Bordeaux /3 nights Bilbao
- Arcachon cruise with oyster and wine tasting
- Cooking lesson in Avignon
- Camino de Santiago walking tour
- Meal Plan with Daily breakfast, 8 lunches, 6 dinners and wine/food tastings as per itinerary
- Entrance fees to Palace of the Popes in Avignon and Cité du Vin in Bordeaux
- Deluxe motorcoach
- Local tour guides throughout
- Hotel taxes and services
- SMALL GROUP—INTIMATE EXPERIENCE (Maximum 25 travelers/Minimum 15 travelers)
Private transfer by coach from Marseille airport to Avignon.
Check in at a 4-star hotel located in the city center, Hotel de l'Horloge or similar, based on a double room, on bed and breakfast, city taxes included.
Then meet your English-speaking guide at the hotel and enjoy a 3 hour walking tour.
Climb up to the top of the fortified medieval city walls and discover Avignon stretching in all its beauty along the Rhône river. Discover the rich historical past of Avignon where the papacy established in the early 14th century. Enjoy skip-the-line access and follow your guide inside the Pope's Palace (entrance ticket included), largest Gothic-styled palace in Europe. In this maze of galleries, chambers and chapels, imagine its luxurious furnishing and sumptuous decoration from the medieval period.
Walking on the cobbled streets to the Place de l'Horloge, find out about the secret of the painted windows. See the Town Hall topped with its clock tower, and the theatre. Dinner will be in a local restaurant nearby the hotel (3 courses without drinks included). Overnight.
Meet your English-speaking guide at the hotel and enjoy a private full day tour to wineries of the Rhone Valley. Among the prestigious growths of the northern Rhône Valley, the Crozes-Hermitage appellation beguiles with its compelling, relaxed elegance. Known primarily for its red wines, where Syrah lends unbridled expression, the Crozes-Hermitage appellation also produces some white wines. Elegance is the hallmark here, as is pleasure.
Lunch in a local restaurant (3 courses without drinks included). Visit 2 wineries during your day. Back to Avignon. Overnight.
Time for an independent walk before meeting a Chef in front of the vegetal wall of Les Halles, a covered market displaying fresh and colorful food every morning. Choose with him the best local products that you will cook during the lesson after the market visit. Once we arrive in his cooking workshop in Avignon, you will receive recipe cards of the dishes you will prepare.
The Chef will demonstrate techniques and you will be hands-on to practice. During the aperitif, he will discuss the course and how to pair the meals with wine. Lunch (drinks included) with the Chef and informal talk about the course presented.
Afternoon at leisure. Dinner in a local restaurant (3 meals without drinks included). Overnight.
Wines tour to Ventoux and Gigondas
Meet your guide at the hotel and enjoy a private full day wines tour to Ventoux and Gigondas, where the morning will be dedicated to wine-tasting theory and techniques. This will be an interactive wine education with a professional wine expert.
Your tour will start with a scenic drive to the foot of the Mont Ventoux through the vineyards of the Ventoux appellation. You will discover an outstanding wine estate and enjoy a guided tour of the cellar. Our wine expert will show you how to taste wine the way the professionals do it. You will learn how to use all of your 5 senses to sample wine, which will help you improve your tasting ability and knowledge. To truly taste a wine, the guide will explain how you use your sense of smell to pick up the nose, which are the flavor scents, and then use your tongue to help discern the tastes. You will taste 4-5 wines (1 white, 1 rose and 2-3 red wines).
After the tasting session, a picnic lunch will be served on the terrace of the château , sheltered by centenary plane trees. Taste terroir products (seasonal fruits and vegetables, tapenade, goat cheese, and more), pairing with the wines of the domain. Then continue on your afternoon winetasting tour to the village of the Gigondas appellation. Located at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail hill range, the vineyard covers an area of over 7 square miles. These wines produced are the Crus of the southern Côtes du Rhône. The Grenache Noir expresses its full flavor in glimmering red wines with pronounced tannins, a robust body, and a solid propensity for aging. Back to Avignon. Overnight.
Wine tour to Carcassonne
Meet your guide at the hotel and enjoy a private full day tour to Carcassonne, which is more than 2,000 years old. The history of Carcassonne dates back to a period of the Middle-Ages, often called the Crusade of the Albigenses. This name comes from the city of Albi, about 62 miles north of Carcassonne. Our guide will explain the various interpretations of why Carcassonne was built, including heresy, a holy war, a conquest, resistance against the invaders and the Crusades. Following our guided tour, we will check in at your 4-star hotel Les Trois Couronnes or similar.
The day will conclude with a dinner of the region’s famous cassoulet, the emblematic regional dish of white beans with many meats, usually including duck, sausage and other delicacies. Overnight.
Departure to Bordeaux by coach. Then check in at your 4-star hotel Eche Ona Best Western or similar. You will meet your guide and enjoy a walking tour of Bordeaux. Dinner in a local restaurant (drinks not included). Overnight.
Wine tour to Saint-Emilion and Medoc
Meet your guide at the hotel and enjoy a private full day wine tour to Saint-Emilion and Medoc. The combination of great conditions for viticulture as well as a clever blending of grape varieties (mostly Merlot combined with Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec in smaller proportions) give to the wine a large variety of tastes and smells.
Features of these grapes include:
- The MERLOT brings fullness and generosity as well as fragrances of red and black fruits such as blackberry and cherry. It has become the privileged grape variety in Saint-Emilion.
- The CABERNET FRANC, tannic and very aromatic, brings delicacy and elegance.
- Finally, CABERNET SAUVIGNON brings spicy aromas and contributes to the longevity of wine with hard tannins.
The wine of the Grand Saint-Emilionnais area can as well be hard and concentrate as refined and delicate. Lunch in a local restaurant (drinks not included). After lunch, you will continue to Medoc. The Medoc vineyard differs from most other vineyards by the combination of different factors that make it unique: its size, its economic weight, its variety of vintages, the coexistence of its traditions with the most modern production techniques, its prestigious brands and of course its terroir. Visit 2 wineries during your day. Back to Bordeaux. Overnight.
Cité du Vin and Arcachon Bay
Meet your guide at the hotel and enjoy a private full day to Cité du Vin and Arcachon Bay. Situated in Bordeaux, the Cité du Vin is a new generation museum where wine comes to life through an immersive, sensorial approach, all set within an evocative architectural design. The Cité du Vin gives a different view of wine, across the world, across the ages, across all cultures and all civilizations. The Cité du Vin takes you on a lively, eye-opening journey around a world of wine and culture. Lunch in a local restaurant (drinks not included).
Then drive thru Arcachon and enjoy a cruise to discover the Bay by boat. This complete circuit allows you to discover Arcachon Bay's most beautiful sites and landscapes.
After the Bay and the oyster-farming villages in Cap Ferret, our route will take us towards the ocean with its beaches, the great Dune du Pilat and the Banc d'Arguin.
End your day with an oyster tasting and a glass of wine! Back to Bordeaux. Overnight.
Spain and its charming city of Bilbao
After breakfast you will meet your new tour leader that will be our host to the next portion of the trip, Spain and its charming city of Bilbao. The motorcoach will head south toward the French/Spanish border. On the way we will stop in Espelette, a delightful village situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees to the east of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and south-east of Biarritz below a mountain called Mondarrain. Historically the village is within the Basque province of Labourd. The village is famous for its chili peppers and those grown in this region even have an appellation controlée to vouch for their authenticity. After the harvest at the end of summer the houses are strung with strings of the piments to dry and the effect is wonderfully colorful.
We will arrive in Bilbao late afternoon and check into your hotel Hesperia Bilbao, a 4-star property.
We will head to the Rioja Region for a full day excursion visiting Rioja Alavesa, the smallest of the three wine-producing sub-regions in Rioja, Spain. It is situated to the north of the River Ebro, straddling the La Rioja region and the Alava province within the autonomous community of the Pais Vasco (Basque Country). Rioja Alavesa is considered to produce some of the best wines of the region. A space-age 'wine city' and ultra-modern wineries sit side by side with stately bodegas and more modest wineries. We will be visiting 2 wineries and taste the best wine producers of the area. We will have lunch at local typical restaurant. Return to Bilbao where dinner is on your own. Overnight.
Camino de Santiago
Today we will experience walking a portion of the Camino de Santiago or Way of St. James. The Camino spans more than 500 miles, starting in France, and leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great, which is located in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Every year, thousands of pilgrims walk the entire Camino, and you will experience a small portion of this world-famous tradition in this section called Camino del Norte, which passes close to where we are staying in Bilbao.
The trail crosses a suspension bridge and winds along the banks of the Cadagua River. You will cross the famous Devil’s Bridge before arriving at the Hermitage of Santa Águeda. After this, there is a steep climb to the small town of Barakaldo before arriving in Portugalete via a path along the banks of the Galindo River. Walking distance is 6 miles. Lunch will be served during the walking itinerary at local typical restaurant. Return to the hotel for a refreshing shower and then ready for our farewell dinner at local restaurant. Overnight.
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
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