Languedoc-Occitanie - “A Land of Contrasts”

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An Undiscovered Region in Southwest France 

Travel with us to explore the tiny villages and the contrasting landscape of plains and mountain ranges. Here between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, you can feel the spirit and romance of the troubadours, minstrels and poets who entertained the courts. Visit the castles and fortress ruins of nobles and chivalrous knights who fought to defend their people and their lands from invading armies of crusaders. Spend an entire day in Carcassonne, the most expansive and the best-preserved walled city in Europe. This fairy tale Medieval city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of top two most visited sites in all of France.

Enjoy An Incredible France Wine Tour in the Largest Wine Region in the World

Enjoy the amazing wines of Languedoc! This is the largest wine region in the world. New wines, organic wines, grape varieties that were nearly lost, the famous sparkling wines, the tiny producers as well as the fabulous wine estates all contribute to making Languedoc the “New Wine Capital” of France! Gastronomy! Languedoc puts the emphasis on “local” and “organic”. We work with restaurants, wine makers and merchants who use local products of the region. They call it “Terroir” here. It’s the way the sun, the wind, the soil, and all of the elements contribute to the freshness and high quality of the products used in their regional cuisine. You will have the chance to meet some of these very special people who literally work the soil with their own hands throughout this incredible France wine tour. You will get to taste these delights at “farm to table” restaurants and on the domain of an award winning winemaker.

Languedoc Cuq en Terrasses view
Languedoc daily

Our Home Away From Home

Our location for the first four days of the tour will be the port town of Sète, on a peninsula surrounded by Mediterranean blue waters. The incomparable light and colors are the qualities which have given Sète its second name, “The Venice of Languedoc”. Our lovely hotel, The Grand Hotel Sete, is located in the center of town on the canal and we have reserved rooms with canal views for you to enjoy! Wake up to the beautiful light reflecting off the Belle Epoque buildings and the colorful boats docked below. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast surrounded by palms in the light filled atrium of the Grand Hotel.

Marvel in your Medieval Surrounds

For the next four days we will stay inside the Medieval City of Carcassonne. Referred to as La Cité Médiévale, you will discover an entire village inside the medieval walls where your hotel is located. Views to the Pyrenees on one side, the Black Mountain range on the other, and the city centre (la Bastide) down below; you will be truly inspired by your surroundings and are assured of a wonderful night’s rest. Enjoy a delicious breakfast each morning, and the early risers will be treated to magnificent sunrise panoramas. You might like to join your tour guide on an early morning walk through the surrounding vineyards for even greater panoramic views!


Nine Amazing Days in Southwest France

Land of a Thousand Colors

The blue and gold of the Mediterranean sea and sands, the green of the pines, hills and valleys of the Montagne Noire, yellow sunflower fields, the white snow-capped Pyrenees, and the red and purple vineyards at harvest time.

Land of History and Legends

Romans, Greeks, Visigoths, and Francs all left their mark on the region. Languedoc is known for its history of Templar knights, hidden treasures, the search for the Holy Grail, and a humble Friar of Carcassonne who stood up to the Holy Inquisition and rejected their torturous methods. The raging wars of the Crusaders of the 12th and 13th Centuries ravished the land in an effort to stamp out the “heresy” of the Cathars. The region of Languedoc was independent of the King of France and even had its own language, Occitan – the Language of Oc, (Langued’oc). Julius Ceasar was quoted as saying he wished that the Romans could speak Latin as well as the people of Occitania! It was the language of the poets and troubadours who performed their songs of love and chivalry throughout the land. Most of Modern European literature owes its origins to the richness of this beautiful language.

Land of Gastronomy & Fine Wines

Home of the first ever sparkling wine and the largest wine growing region in the world. Local specialties of the Cassoulet, foie gras, cheese and honey from the Corbières mountains, nuts and mushrooms from the hills of Cabardès, salt and oysters from the sea, olives of the Minervois, charcuterie from the Lauragais, fresh trout from the lakes and rivers…

Highlights of our Languedoc – Occitanie Tour

  • Four nights at The Grand Hotel in Sète
  • Buffet breakfast every morning in the light filled atrium of our Belle Époque era Hotel
  • Welcome dinner in Sète with group
  • Full buffet breakfast every morning on the terrace of our inn
  • Traditional open air market on Wednesday in Sète held on several streets of the town center. There is a “textile-bazaar” as well as flowers, food, and baby animals.
  • Group picnic with purchases from the market
  • Visit Domaine de Peyrat for wine tasting and light lunch paring with the wines
  • Private tour and cocktail tasting at La Maison de Noilly Prat where the famous vermouth is made. Discover the interesting history and secret methods of creating the finest vermouth in the world.
  • Marseillan Port town- one of the oldest villages in all of France!
  • Mediterranean Boat excursion departing from the charming village of Meze. Visit the oyster beds with an on board tasting of the freshest, straight from the ocean oysters and mussels – accompanied by the celebrated crisp, white Picpoul wine of the region. Taste a local specialty “Tielle”, a tarte of calamari, tomatoes and
  • Pézenas: A village that has been designated as a “Ville de Métiers d’Art” for its widely varied group of artisans and antique restoration craftsmen. A visit to Pézenas is a unique opportunity to see a complete city as it was in the Middle Ages.
  • Abbaye of Fontfroide – Visit this magnificent abbey that was founded by Cistercian monks in the 11th Century.
  • Visit of the walled medieval Cité of Carcassonne and the Bastide St. Louis of
  • Presentation of Medieval arms presented by an authentic knight.
  • A Day in Albi, a World Heritage UNESCO SITE. Visit the amazing cathedral St. Cecile and the Toulouse Lautrec museum.
  • A leisurely cruise excursion on the Canal du Midi alongside vast vineyards, and stunning countryside. It is a masterpiece of 17th Century construction and since 1996, World Heritage UNESCO listed.
  • Visit to Saissac, one of the least well known, but largest and best preserved of all the Cathars fortresses. This was the castle of Bertrand de Saissac who was the tutor of Raymond Trencavel, the young viscount who gave his life trying to save Carcassonne from the onslaught of the crusaders.
  • Airport transfers from Toulouse-Blagnac airport.
  • Visit of an Olive oil cooperative with tour and tasting afterwards.
  • Visit to Minerve, one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”.
  • Visit of the Chateau de Mauriac with a private wine tasting.
  • Meals: 10 Buffet Breakfasts, 4 Dinners, 5 Lunches.
  • 1-night pre-tour accommodation (incl. breakfast).

Day by Day Program for Languedoc Land of Contrasts Tour

Arrival Day – Arrive at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (or Toulouse-Matabiau SNCF train station). Meet your transfer driver, travel to your hotel and check in. The day is free for you to explore on your own. Your Best of France Travels Languedoc-Occitanie discovery begins in the morning!

Day 1.
We will meet in the lobby at the Grand Hotel de l’Opéra at 9h30 and depart by luxury coach for the coast! We begin our Languedoc-Occitanie discovery today in a tiny local village for an event called “A Taste of the South”. Enjoy the stunning scenery as we drive past the hillside villages and vineyards to our private event. Keep an eye out for Cathar towers, and you may have a glimpse of the Pyrenees also! “A Taste of the South” is a very fun private wine and food tasting event where you will learn about the wines and foods of the Languedoc-Occitanie region. We will try eight different wines and each will be paired with a dish reflecting the gastronomy of the region. After our wonderful afternoon experience, we will drive to Sète on the Mediterranean, our base for 4 days to explore this captivating region.

Day 2. This morning we will begin with a visit to the winemaker of La Seigneurie de Peyrat for a wine tasting and “Pique-nique chic” of local fresh cheeses, meats, and tapas. Afterwards we will drive to medieval Pézenas.  Pézenas is one of the most lively and beautiful towns in the South of France. You will notice that many of the buildings have gorgeous carved stone fronts and intricate ironwork – a reminder that Pézenas was once the playground of kings, princes and some of Europe’s most famous artists.

Day 3. Market day in Sète!  Sleep in or get up early and hit the market which opens at 8 AM.  This is a large market that fills the square and meanders along several streets. You can find everything from clothing, shoes, sunglasses, baskets, jewelry, art, books, music, and of course, lots of food.  Try the green basil cheese.  There are museums to visit, boutiques, or just enjoy walking through the narrow streets and along the canals. In the afternoon you might like to visit the Musée des Beaux Arts in Sète and rejoin the group afterwards where we will drive to the top of Mont St. Clair for the beautiful views of the Mediterranean. 

Day 4. Today we will drive to Mèze. In the morning there is a colorful market. You will be delighted by this charming little port town, one of the oldest in all of France.  In the afternoon we will have a private two-hour excursion on a boat with our own captain. We will meet an ostreiculteur, the “oyster farmer” who will meet us to tell us about the ways they raise oysters, clams and mussels.  We will have an onboard tasting of these delights, fresh from the Bassin de Thau, accompanied by a regional white wine. After lunch at one of the cafes on the port we will go to Marseillan for our private tour of Noilly Prat. Here we will enjoy a tasting of the different three different vermouths, vermouth cocktails. Take advantage of their beautiful shop to purchase some delightful chocolate treats made with Noilly Prat vermouth.  Return to Sète late afternoon.

Day 5. Today we will depart from Sète to drive to the historic village of Minerve. On our way we will visit an olive cooperative, L’Oulibo. Established in 1942 they are the most important olive producer in the region, known for their table olives for munching as well as their fine olive oils. We will have a guided tour and a tasting of their different olive products afterwards. Time to shop in their boutique and purchase some olives to take away if you like. On our arrival in the village of Minerve we will first have lunch, then time to explore this site of a Cathar hold out against the crusaders. Minerve has been designated as one of “Les Plus Beaux Villages en France” (one of the most beautiful villages in France).We will travel on to Carcassonne and check into our hotel inside the Medieval city (La Cité Médiévale).

Day 6. Enjoy a full day exploring the charming town of Carcassonne. It is market day today and the town will be a hive of activity. Why not explore the market and enjoy some time exploring the city center with its many varied boutiques, or spend time in Place Carnot at a local cafe and watch the world go by!

You might like to climb the tower of St Vincent’s Church for breathtaking views across the city (note: there are 232 steps!!).

This afternoon, explore the medieval city at your leisure. Be sure to visit the beautiful 12th Century Basilica of Saint Nazaire. The castle of the Viscounts is open for visiting also. You will enjoy strolling through this authentic medieval city at your leisure. After a break we will meet our authentic knight late this afternoon for a walking tour of the walled city, followed by a delicious dinner as a group at the oldest restaurant in the Cité and dine on the local specialty of Cassoulet, accompanied by live gypsy music.

Day 7. This morning we will drive into the heart of the “Montagne Noire”, the Black Mountain, to visit Saissac, the least known, yet the oldest and largest of the “Cathar fortresses”. We will be accompanied by a guide who will explain the myth buster about Cathar fortresses. We will return to Carcassonne where you will have time for lunch and to continue discovering the city at your own pace. Prior to our evening meal, we will meet our medieval knight for a fun session about medieval life. We will enjoy a special meal of regional specialties prepared just for our group.

Day 8. After a relaxing start to the morning, the coach will take us a short distance to Carcassonne port where we will meet our boat for a leisurely cruise along the Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Discover the history of the canal which was built in the 17th century to provide a link between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It traverses the height of two valleys and allows smooth sailing thanks to the locks and ingenious design of centuries ago. Relax as you pass vineyards, country houses and beautiful countryside. Following our cruise, we will drive to the magnificent 11th and 12th century Abbey of Fontfroide. We will have a group lunch at the Abbey restaurant – three courses with wine. They make their own wine here and you will have the chance to taste some of them with your lunch. Following lunch, enjoy a self-guided visit of the abbey and the beautiful gardens. We will return to Carcassonne late afternoon.

Day 9. We will bid farewell to La Cité Médiévale this morning and travel north to the city of Albi, home of the amazing 13 th century Cathedral Sainte Cécile, the world’s largest brick cathedral. Albi is full of unique shops, cobblestone streets, medieval architecture, churches, cafes and restaurants. It is a lively, cosmopolitan city located on the banks of the River Tarn. We will visit the Toulouse Lautrec Museum where you can see more than 1000 works created by Lautrec. This is the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world. The museum is housed in the former residence of the archbishops, Le Palais Berbie. Don’t miss the beautiful formal gardens beside the palace with a spectacular view of the Tarn River. We will continue onto to the 13th century Chateau de Mauriac, built by the Knights Templar. In more modern times, the once medieval military fortress has been meticulously restored by a local artist to showcase its great history as well as becoming a stunning events venue. We will enjoy a guided tour followed by a private wine tasting for our group. We will travel to Toulouse and check into our beautifully appointed 4-star airport hotel late-afternoon.You will have time before dinner to relax and finish packing up for departure. We will share a wonderful Farewell group dinner this evening to celebrate our Languedoc-Occitanie discovery.

Day 10. Departure Day. We will provide your transport to Toulouse train station, or Toulouse center if you are staying longer in France. If you are departing by air, it is a short walk into the airport terminal from the hotel through the connecting, internal walkway

Customers' Appreciation

“As we approached the tiny town of Cuq Toulza, I spotted graceful spires atop a hill in the distance, hinting at something alluring. I wish we were going there, I thought. To my delight, this turned out to be our destination for the next few days, with gracious hosts, Phillippe and Andonis. The place is serene with glorious views and lovely gardens, a perfect place to unwind. Andonis is an inspired chef who enchanted us with his culinary genius. If you’re lucky, he’ll sit down at the player piano after dinner and wow you with his singing and joie de vivre. And Phillippe, with the utmost consideration and kindness, sees to your every need.” Sally and Fran – CT

View Photos From Our Languedoc Land of Contrasts Tour

Languedoc Cordes in the sky
Languedoc la cite at night
Languedoc cooking lesson