France -Vineyards : 14 days
Arrival in Santander from Plymouth with Brittany Ferries. Travel to the Landes Forest, stopping en route at the open air museum of Marquèze where there is a recreation of a 19th century forestry village. Overnight in the Landes Forest at Auberge des Pins.
Drive to Bordeaux. Built on a curve of the River Garonne, Bordeaux has been a major port since pre-Roman times. Much of central Bordeaux is grand streets and 18th century mansions. A triangle formed by Cours Clemenceau, Cours de L’Intendance and Alleés de Tourny has chic boutiques and cafés. Cathédrale St André is another focal point, with good museums close by. Take the road to the Medoc Vineyards. Two nights at Le Pavillon de Margaux.
Discover the Medoc vineyards!
Between Bordeaux and Pauillac, the “Route des Châteaux” goes through many villages: Moulis, Listrac, Margaux, Saint Julien and Pauillac. From this road you will have fantastic views of the Garonne River, wine chateaux and vineyards. More than 1200 estates produce Medoc wines, from Premiers Grands Crus (Margaux, Latour, Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild) to Crus Bourgeois (Labégorce, Poujeaux). During the day, you will see some of the main chateaux, and you will have appointments for visits and tastings at two different estates: one Cru Bourgeois and one Grand Cru Classé.
Morning free for a possible game of golf on the beautiful Medoc Golf course. In the afternoon board a ferry to Blaye and cross the Gironde estuary (3km wide). Visit the 17th century citadel of Blaye, the lovely small town of “Bourg”, and then take the road to Saint Emilion. Two nights in St. Emilion.
Day at leisure to explore St. Emilion. Known since ancient times for the quality of its wines, this small medieval city has recently been classed a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Take a guided visit of the main monuments – the Hermitage, the King’s Tower, Trinity Chapel, and above all the unique monolithic church. Visit and wine tasting in a “Grand Cru Classé” of Saint Emilion (Fonplegade, Franc Mayne). At the end of the afternoon, wine course session at the Ecole du Vin in Saint Emilion, lead by a wine expert.
Drive to Bergerac and visit the old city. Visit with wine tasting at Chateau Monbazillac, which produces golden wines. Continue along side the Dordogne river to Sarlat. Two nights at La Villa Romaine.
In the morning explore the medieval city of Sarlat. In the afternoon explore the Vezere valley, and the Lascaux II caves (facsimile).
Full day discovery of the upper Dordogne valley, with Beynac, La Roque Gageac, Souillac, and overnight at the famous town of Rocamadour.
In the morning drive to Cahors and visit the city and famous “Valentré Bridge”. In the afternoon continue to Moissac. Visit the superb abbey, and then drive to Sauternes.
Three nights at Relais du Chateau d’ Arche, a 17th century castle in the Sauternes vineyard, and a Grand Cru Classé wine estate, which offers some lovely guestrooms.
Spend the day discovering the Sauternes vineyards and historical monuments, including the 14th century Chateau de Cazeneuve, and the 13th century Chateau de Roquetaillade.
Explore the Garonne river valley including the small town of Cadillac and its 16th century castle and fortified walls, the incredible site of Sainte Croix du Mont with wide reaching views of the valley, Malagar House – the former property of François Mauriac and family, and the small medieval city of Saint Macaire.
Day at leisure. Possible golf on the Sauternes Golf Course. Later drive to Arcachon on the Arcachon Basin, with wild beautiful landscapes, oyster farms, small fishermen’s harbours, and great landscapes such as La Dune du Pilat, the highest sand hill in Europe. Two nights at Arcachon.
Day at leisure to explore the Arcachon Basin.
Drive to Santander in time for the return ferry crossing with Brittany Ferries to Plymouth.