Tour Summary – What’s Included
- Comfortable, executive coaching with an experienced, professional driver
- Escorted throughout by Gavin Bade, designer of the itinerary
- 14 nights B&B accommodation in https://www.gardentours.com/tours/the-gardens-and-culture-of-occitanie-the-true-south-of-france/ 4* hotels
- Entrance fees to all featured visits
- Guided tours as stated
- 14 Breakfasts
- 3 lunches with wine
- 5 dinners with wine
- Drinks and patisseries at one of our garden visits
- 1 wine tasting
- 24-hour emergency service
- Pullman Toulouse Centre – 1 night
- Plaza Madeleine – 4 nights
- Mercure Rodez Cathedrale – 1 night
- Doubletree by Hilton Carcassonne – 2 nights
- Pullman Montpellier Centre – 3 nights
- Grand Hotel Roi Rene – 3 nights
At one time, much of what we now consider to be France was comprised of two distinct, linguistic regions – those of the ‘Langue d’oïl’ in the north and the ‘Langue d’oc’ in the south. If we travel south through France, suddenly, around about Limoges, the local accent changes – this is referred to as ‘l’Accent du Sud’ – indicative of the area where the Occitan language and culture once held sway. The fact that the lands of Occitanie never became a country in their own right is a matter for long contemplation, yet the cultural distinction is to be felt in every aspect of life even now. Commencing in the great red city of Toulouse (‘Tolosa’) – once the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom – we make a progress through some of the most famous landscapes in France. Our gardens vary from informal, private affairs to sweeping renaissance parterres attached to vast châteaux. Our tour finishes in the fabled walled city of Carcassonne, one of the greatest mediæval glories of Europe. On the second leg of our odyssey in the south of France we discover some of the hidden corners of the true southernmost part of France – the Languedoc – and journey to the edge of Provence where the mighty River Rhône empties into the Mediterranean. Along the way, we include various World-class cultural, historical and architectural visits – after all, it would be a shame to travel past and not briefly divert to enjoy them! The atmosphere of the region is certainly timeless and will undoubtedly have you hooked – there is so much to discover, we can only ‘cherry pick’. This immersive tour will however leave you with a very good ‘grounding’ in so much of what makes life in the south of France so inimitable.
Day 1 – SUNDAY 4.10.20 – ARRIVAL IN TOULOUSE – DINNER INCLUDED
- Arrival at Toulouse airport and make your own way into the city centre to our hotel. According to your arrival time, you may wish to discover some of the sights in this, one of the greatest cities of France. This evening, we dine together as a group at the hotel’s ‘SW Restaurant’.
Day 2 – MONDAY 5.10.20 – GIROUSSENS / CORDES-SUR-CIEL / SARLAT – BREAKFAST INCLUDED
- Following breakfast this morning, we check out of our hotel and depart. Our first visit this morning is to the wonderful Jardin des Martels. Following our visit here, we continue to the delightful village of Cordes-sur-Ciel for a visit to a private garden and then later for free time and lunch at leisure.
- Following our visit here, we continue to Sarlat-le-Canéda to our hotel, and for the rest of the day and dinner at leisure.
Day 3 – TUESDAY – 6.10.20 – SARLAT / HAUTEFORT / MONTIGNAC / THONAC / LES EYZIES DE TAYAC-SIREUIL / SARLAT – BREAKFAST INCLUDED
- Following breakfast this morning, we travel to Hautefort to visit the spectacular chateau and to have a guided tour with the Head Gardener. Following our visit here, we continue to Montignac, for a visit to the World famous Grottes de Lascaux – we allow time to take lunch at leisure in the café at Lascaux.
- Following our visit here, we continue to the historic Chateau de Losse and its Renaissance style gardens. Our final visit of the day, is to the nearby village of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil for a short stop to enjoy the characterful location. We return to our hotel in Sarlat for a further evening at leisure.
DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY 7.10.20 – SARLAT / CASTELNAUD-LA-CHAPELLE / SAINT VINCENT-DE- COSSE / VEYZAC / ROQUE-GAGEAC / SARLAT – BREAKFAST & LUNCH INCLUDED
- Following breakfast this morning, we depart for a visit to the Château des Milandes and its beautiful gardens.
- We continue to the Domaine de Monrecour for an included lunch.
- Following our lunch, we continue to the famous ‘suspended’ gardens of Marqueyssac for a visit at leisure.
- Finally, this afternoon, we take a short boat trip along the River Dordogne in order to enjoy further views and the bucolic setting of the celebrated Dordogne landscapes.
- After our final visit, we return to the hotel in Sarlat for an evening and dinner at leisure.
DAY 5 – THURSDAY 8.10.20 – SARLAT / EYRIGNAC / CARLUX / CARSAC-AILLAC / SARLAT – BREAKFAST INCLUDED
- Following breakfast this morning, we travel to the Manoir d’Eyrignac for a guided tour of the gardens. Following our tour, we have further free time and an opportunity for lunch at leisure in the restaurant on site. Following our visit here, we continue to a nearby private garden for a visit.
- Our final visit of the afternoon is to the intriguing water gardens of ‘Les Jardins d’Eau’ nearby.
- We return for a last evening in Sarlat before tomorrow’s departure.
DAY 6 – FRIDAY 9.10.20 – SARLAT / ROCAMADOUR / PADIRAC / SALLES-COURBATIÈS / – BREAKFAST & DINNER INCLUDED
- This morning, we check out of our hotel and depart for Rocamadour for a visit to the Château and the Abbey. Following our visit here, we allow time in Rocamadour for lunch at leisure.
- After our lunch we visit the enchanting Gouffre de Padirac for a subterranean journey including a boat trip.
- Following our visit here, we continue to a private garden near to Villefranche de Rouergue for a guided tour.
- Finally, we continue to our hotel near to Albi for an included dinner.
DAY 7 – SATURDAY 10.10.20 – ALBI / CARCASSONNE – BREAKFAST & DINNER INCLUDED
- Following breakfast this morning, we check out of the hotel and continue for a visit to Albi. We commence with an included guided visit to the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec and the Palais de la Berbie. We allow time at leisure to have lunch and discover the spectacular cathedral of Sainte-Cécile. Later this afternoon, we continue to Carcassonne and check into our hotel. After time to refresh ourselves, we continue to a short guided evening tour of the citadel of Carcassonne, followed by a farewell dinner in a restaurant within the ramparts.
DAY 8 – SUNDAY 11.10.20 – CARCASSONNE CITY TOUR – BREAKFAST INCLUDED
- Morning free in Carcassonne. This evening, we dine together within the ramparts of the citadel and return to our hotel.
Day 9 – MONDAY 12.10.20 – CARCASSONNE / FONTFROIDE / BÉZIERS / PÉZENAS / MONTPELLIER – BREAKFAST & LUNCH INCLUDED
- Following breakfast this morning, we check out and depart the hotel, for a visit to the Cistercian Abbey of Fontfroide. Here we have a guided tour of the Abbey and gardens, followed by a lunch prepared with local ingredients, accompanied by the celebrated wines of the Abbey vineyards.
- Following our lunch, we continue to a specialist private garden.
- After this visit, we make a short stop in Pézenas to enjoy this charming village, birthplace of Molière. Finally this afternoon, we continue to gracious Montpellier, one of the great cities of France, to our central hotel, for an evening and dinner at leisure.
Day 10 – TUESDAY 13.10.20 – MONTPELLIER / VAILHAUQUÈS / ST. GUILHEM-LE-DÉSERT / NAVACELLES / VIADUC DE MILLAU / MONTPELLIER – BREAKFAST INCLUDED
- This morning, we make another visit to a specialist private garden.
- From here, we continue to the fascinating mediæval village of St. Guilhem-le-Désert. Here we take time to visit the Abbey, to enjoy the authentic architecture and to take lunch at leisure.
- Following our visit here, we continue to the area of the Causse de Larzac, at Blandas for a grandiose view of another of ‘Grand Sites de France’, the ‘Cirque de Navacelles’, a spectacular geological formation within Europe’s largest canyon.
- We finish the day, with a visit to one of Europe’s most spectacular feats of civic engineering – the ‘Viaduc de Millau’ for a short guided tour.
- Finally, we return to Montpellier, for another evening and dinner at leisure.
Day 11 – WEDNESDAY 14.10.20 – MONTPELLIER / ANDUZE / ST. ANDRÉ DE MAJENCULES / MONTPELLIER – BREAKFAST & DRINKS/PATISSERIES INCLUDED
- This morning we depart for the Cévennes National Park, an area of spectacular, rugged beauty.
- Our first visit this morning is to the fascinating Bambouseraie at Anduze. We allow time for a light early lunch in the café on site (not included).
- Following our visit to the botanic gardens and the bamboo forests, we continue by historic steam train to St. Jean du Gard where our coach awaits.
- Our final visit this afternoon is to another private garden deep in the national park. We are served drinks and patisseries in the garden at the end of our visit.
- Following this charming visit, we return once again for a final evening in Montpellier with dinner at leisure.
DAY 12 – THURSDAY 15.10.20 – MONTPELLIER / AIGUES MORTES / ARLES / PONT DU GARD / VILLENEUVE-LÈS-AVIGNON / AIX-EN-PROVENCE – BREAKFAST INCLUDED
- Following breakfast this morning, we check out of the hotel and depart for the walled city of Aigues-Mortes. On the edge of the intriguing Camargue, the patchwork of streets within the ramparts are crowded with boutiques and artisans.
- We continue to nearby Arles for free time to visit the Roman amphitheatre, the Roman theatre and to take lunch at leisure.
- After lunch, we continue to the UNESCO-listed Pont du Gard for a short visit to this masterpiece of Roman civic architecture.
- Later, we continue to the gardens of the Abbaye de Saint André in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. From here, we may also enjoy spectacular views across the river Rhône – the frontier of Provence – towards the gleaming citadel of Avignon.
- Finally, we continue to our hotel in Aix-en-Provence for the rest of the afternoon and evening free with dinner at leisure.
DAY 13 – FRIDAY 16.10.20 – AIX-EN-PROVENCE / MENERBÈS / BONNIEUX / LOURMARIN / CUCURON / AIX-EN-PROVENCE – BREAKFAST & LUNCH INCLUDED
- Following breakfast this morning, we depart for a private garden situated in the wonderful Lubéron, to the east of Avignon. Following our visit here, we continue to another private garden that has become something of an icon – ‘La Louve’, garden of ‘the wolf’.
- Following our visit here, we continue to the village of Lourmarin for an included lunch, followed by a little free time to discover the narrow mediæval streets of this charming, intact example of a typical Lubéron village.
- Following our visit here, we continue nearby to a small but sparkling private garden yet deeper in the countryside.
- Finally, we return to our hotel in Aix-en-Provence, to further discoveries and an evening and dinner at leisure.
DAY 14 – SATURDAY 17.10.20 – AIX-EN-PROVENCE / PERTUIS / LAURIS / ST. RÉMY-DE- PROVENCE, – BREAKFAST & DINNER INCLUDED
- After our breakfast this morning, we travel into the Provençal countryside for a garden visit and a wine tasting.
- Next we continue to St. Rémy de Provence for free time to shop, discover and to lunch, before continuing nearby to visit a garden of influential design, conceived by Dominique Lafourcade.
- Later we return to Aix-en-Provence for an opportunity to refresh ourselves before a short walk into the centre of town for a farewell meal as a group.
DAY 15 – SUNDAY – 18.10.20 – AIX-EN-PROVENCE – BREAKFAST INCLUDED
- Following our breakfast this morning, we check out of the hotel and commence our homeward or onward journeys. Marseille airport is not far, or why not travel to Paris by directly from Avignon on the modern TGV?
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:
- Flights to and from France
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