Languedoc-Occitanie - “A Land of Contrasts”

October 7-16, 2019 – Full

October 5-14, 2020 Book Now – only 4 openings left!

$3995 per person in double occupancy. Limit 14.

$600 Single Supplement.

Contact Us to Book your Tour or Request More Information.

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-Meze-coastline
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 Sête, on a peninsula surrounded by Mediterranean blue waters. The incomparable light and colors are the qualities which have given Sête 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.

One of the Best Hotels in France

For the next five days we will stay an 18th century presbytery in Cuq Toulza, a picturesque hamlet surrounded by rolling hills and farmlands. Our inn, Cuq en Terrasses, was awarded “One of the Best Hotels in France for Service” and also received the Travelers Choice Award from Trip Advisor as one of the top 25 hotels in France. It has recently been chosen by Alastair Sawday as one of the best hotels in France! In his book, Go Slow France Guide, he said “Slow and Special it most certainly is, and human and beautiful, too”. Each evening you will be served a beautifully presented gourmet five course dinner prepared by Andonis, the chef and one of your hosts at the inn. Choose a wine pairing if you like and allow your host, Philippe, to select a wine for the different courses. Breakfast and dinner will be served each day on the terrace overlooking the hills.

Languedoc-tour-best-hotel

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 ofthe 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 Corbieres 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 Sete www.legrandhotelsete.com
  • Buffet breakfast every morning in the light filled atrium of our Belle Époque era Hotel
  • Welcome dinner in Sete with group
  • Five nights at Cuq en Terrasses www.cuqenterrasses.com
  • Full buffet breakfast every morning on the terrace of our inn
  • Five course dinners each evening on the terrace at the gourmet restaurant of Cuq en Terrasses
  • Cooking school lesson by the chef, Andonis, at Cuq en Terrasses. This is lots of fun!! We will dine on our creations afterwards, of course.
  • Lunch at Cuq en Terrasses before the cooking lesson begins
  • Traditional open air market on Wednesday in Sete held on several streets of the town center. There is a “textile-bazaar” as well as flowers, food, and baby animals. www.halles-sete.com
  • 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. www.noillyprat.com
  • 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, tomatos and
    olives. www.tourisme-sete.com
  • Pezenas: 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 Pezenas is a unique opportunity to see a complete city as it was in the Middle Ages. www.pezenas-tourisme.fr
  • 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
    Carcassonne. http://www.remparts-carcassonne.fr
  • 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. http://musee-toulouse-lautrec.com/collection-toulouse-lautrec
  • Cordes-sur-Ciel www.cordessurciel.fr A medieval perched village that will take your breath away (literally!)
  • Visit to Saissac, one of the least well known, but largest and best preserved of all the Cathars ortresses. 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. www.saissac.fr
  • Airport transfers from Toulouse airport
  • Visit of an Olive oil cooperative with tour and tasting afterwards
  • Visit to Minerve, one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”
  • Lunch at Gault Millau restaurant in Minerve
  • Meals: 9 Buffet Breakfast, 6 dinners, 5 lunches

Day by Day Program for Languedoc Land of Contrasts Tour


Day 1.
We will meet you in Toulouse at 9:00 AM to embark on our adventure starting with a tour of magnificent Abbey of Fontfroide.  After a visit of this 11th  Century Cistercian abbey, set in the midst of the vineyards of Languedoc, we will have a chance to taste the wines from their own domain.  The monks first started making wine here nearly 900 years ago. We will enjoy a delicious group lunch at La Table de Fontfroide, an award-winning restaurant having earned a chef’s hat in the Gault Millau restaurant guide. After lunch we will drive to Sete 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 Pezenas.  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 Pezenaswas once the playground of kings, princes and some of Europe’s most famous artists.

Day 3. 3 Market day in Sete!  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 we will visit the Musee des Beaux Arts in Sete and will drive to the top of Mont St. Clair for the beautiful views of the Mediterranean.

 

Day 4. 4 Today we will drive to Meze. 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 Sete late afternoon.

Day 5. 5 Today we will depart from Sete 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).

Day 6. Today you will have an entire day in 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.

 

Day 7. This morning we will drive to the perched hill town of Cordes-sur-Ciel. We will depart late morning and arrive in time for you to have lunch before exploring another designated “Most beautiful village in France”. Cordes has a long history of both prosperity and tragedy. Wars, plagues, political conflict and financial disasters did not defeat Cordes! It is now a village known for its beauty, history and numerous artist galleries. Late afternoon return to our inn with some free time before dinner.

Day 8. 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! After our visit here we will return to our inn for a cooking lesson with Chef Andonis. Learn lovely recipes that you can make at home. Participate hands on if you like, or just watch. We are preparing our own dinner for this evening. Lots of fun and laughs. This is a casual and fun activity. Lunch will be provided at the inn before the cooking lesson begins.

Day 9. Today we will drive to the magnificent walled city of Carcassonne. We will begin with a guided tour by our charming Medieval Knight, Jean-Francois. He will entertain you while heexplains the architecture of the walled city, medieval arms, and other intriguing facts about life in Medieval times. For lunch we will go to the oldest restaurant in the Cité and dine on the local specialty of Cassoulet, accompanied by live gypsy music. Free time after lunch to explore the walled city on your own. 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. Return to our inn for our bon voyage dinner with the group. You will have time before dinner to relax and finish packing up for departure.

Day 10. Departure Day. We will provide your transport to Toulouse airport, train station, or Toulouse center if you are staying longer in France.

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