Bordeaux, The Dordogne with Chartres & The Loire
14 DAYS, 13 NIGHTS | Paris, Chartres, Cognac, Bordeaux, Bergerac, Vézère Valley, Sarlat-la-Canéda, Rocamador
Chateau de Chenonceau
La Roque Gageac
Chateau de Chenonceau
PRIVATE TOUR ITINERARY
Discover Chartres, Cognac, a bit of the Loire Valley on your way to exploring the vineyards and villages of Bordeaux and the Dordogne, all with your very own sommelier guide. You will experience the very best of Chartres, its famous Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, with its dazzling blue stained-glass windows and collection of relics, including the Sainte Voile (Holy Veil) said to have been worn by the Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Jesus—it is a site which has lured pilgrims since the Middle Ages. You'll visit Château de Chenonceau, the most magnificent and best-loved chateau of the Loire Valley with magnificent gardens, along with Château Royal d'Amboise, once a favored royal residence which includes the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci. A few miles further along, visit Vouvray—best known for its production of white wine—where you will visit a vineyard and enjoy some wine tastings. You'll then spend the rest of the tour visiting the beautiful villages and sites of Bordeaux & The Dordogne, visiting their most well known vineyards and tasting some of France's best wines.
Day 1: Paris to Chartres
Arrive Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris. Jozef, your chauffeur-guide for the tour, will meet you on arrival. Continue your journey by road to Chartres for an overnight stay at Le Grand Monarque, located in the heart of the city. After an opportunity to settle into your accommodation, and for some lunch, Jozef will take you on a guided tour of Chartres. Visits will include the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, with its dazzling blue stained-glass windows and collection of relics, including the Sainte Voile (Holy Veil) said to have been worn by the Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Jesus—it is a site which has lured pilgrims since the Middle Ages. Walk through the medieval streets of the Old Town and visit Église Saint-Aignan and experience some samples of the confectionaries for which Chartres is known. Dinner tonight is included at Le Georges Restaurant at your hotel, Le Grand Monarque.
Day 2: Loire Valley
This morning, you’ll depart Chartres for the Loire Valley where your first visit will be to Château de Chenonceau, the most magnificent and best-loved chateau of the Loire Valley with magnificent gardens. Next, continue to Château Royal d'Amboise, once a favored royal residence which includes the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci. A few miles further along, visit Vouvray—best known for its production of white wine—where you will visit a vineyard and enjoy some wine tastings. Afterwards, arrive at Fontevraud Abbey, one of the largest surviving monastic communities from the Middle Ages. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and then of England, thanks to her marriage to Henry II, is the emblematic figure of the Royal Abbey. She spent the end of her life here, ordering the reclining effigies of herself, her husband Henry II and of their son Richard the Lionheart, seen in the Abbey Church. You will stay tonight at Fontevraud L’Hotel at Saint-Lazare Priory. Tonight, enjoy dinner at the Abbey’s well-known Michelin starred restaurant.
Day 3: Cognac to Bordeaux
This morning, take an opportunity to explore the Abbey prior to your departure for Cognac in the Charente, best known for its namesake, the famous brandy. You will visit a vineyard from which the grapes are sourced to make the liquor, as well as learn about its production and enjoy some tastings. Continue your journey to Bordeaux for a four-night stay at Hôtel de Sèze in Bordeaux. This impeccably smart and stylish hotel, dating from 1747, offers a fine-dining bistro, boutique bedrooms, and is located along the Allées de Tourny, one of three elegant thoroughfares forming Bordeaux's Golden Triangle. Hôtel de Sèze is known for its great service, sheer opulence of fabrics and finish, and its location in the heart of the city. Dinner tonight is included at the hotel.
Day 4: Bordeaux
Today, you’ll explore the historic city of Bordeaux on a full-day private-guided tour with Jozef. You’ll visit the renovated quays, the spectacular Miroir d’Eau with its breathtaking water features, along with Place de la Bourse with its 18th-century classical buildings. Stroll through the tranquil public gardens along the Quai before crossing the river via the impressive Chaban-Delmas Bridge—the longest vertical lift bridge in Europe. Stop for lunch midday at a local restaurant where you may sample the local delicacy of canelé, a French pastry inflected with rum and vanilla. Continue exploring the city on foot, seeing the 13th-century Cathedral of St André, a UNESCO-listed monument, and the Palais Rohan, now the home of city hall. In the Old Town, see the “Grosse Cloche”—the former belfry of the town hall in the Middle Ages—along with the St. Pierre District with its famous Port Cailhau, the historic gate to the city of Bordeaux, built in 1495, and visit Parliament Square. Afterwards, visit the magnificent Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, built in 1773 by Victor Louis.
Day 5: La Rochelle & The Huguenots
Enjoy a whole-day excursion to the famous historic port of La Rochelle, a city which has been a center for fishing and trade since the 12th century—a maritime tradition that's reflected in its Vieux Port. The old town has half-timbered medieval houses and Renaissance architecture, including passageways covered by 17th-century arches. You’ll enjoy stops along the way at Blaye, a fortified town on the bank of the Gironde, and Bourg-sur-Gironde, a hidden gem on the right bank of the Dordogne, in the heart of the wine appellation of Côtes de Bourg. In La Rochelle, you’ll visit the Protestant Museum, highlighting the history of the Huguenots and their emigration from this historic coastal city. Return to the hotel early evening where you can have dinner walking distance from the hotel at one of the city’s many bistros.
Day 6: St Emilion & Pomerol with wine tastings
Today, enjoy a private-guided tour with Jozef of the charming medieval town of St. Émilion. Named for the Benedictine hermit who first came to the area in the eighth century, the city overlooks the Dordogne Valley and lush vineyards. Visit the partially subterranean Monolithic Church, built in the early 12th century, and the Proserpina Grotto of its Hermitage, where Émilion lived. Afterwards, head to Pomeral for a walk around the village and lunch before heading to a local chateau outside of Pomerol for a visit to one or two vineyards for wine tastings.
Day 7: Bergerac
Today, depart Bordeaux for the small town of Bergerac. Jozef will give you a private-guided tour of this lovely medieval town, situated on the banks of the Dordogne and famous for the town’s fictional son, Cyrano de Bergerac. You will find a statue of him in La Place Pélissière, the tree-lined main square filled dotted cafes where you’ll enjoy lunch. Stroll along the maze of cobbled lanes and admire the half-timbered houses and Eglise Notre-Dame, the Old Town’s 19th-century neo-gothic church famed for its stained-glass windows and high steeple. Market days on Wednesday and Saturday are the perfect time to pick up Perigord specialties such as plate-sized tins of duck confit, black truffles, and fragrant cheeses. This afternoon you’ll enjoy a cruise along the river on a gabares, the region’s traditional flat-bottomed barges, and visit the Maison des Vins, set in the beautiful 17th-century Récollets Cloisters. Next, arrive at Château des Vigiers, a château hotel with period and modern rooms, and a sensational Michelin-starred dining experience courtesy of French chef Didier Casaguana. Enjoy dinner tonight at the château.
Day 8: Château de Montbazillac & Château de Bridoire
This morning, visit Château de Montbazillac, a beautiful Renaissance-style Château and home to the famous dessert wine. You’ll enjoy a private-guided tour and some tastings of Montbazillac. You will also visit the carefully-restored mediaeval and turreted Château de Bridoire, which includes a not-to-be-missed Mysterious Valley, a labyrinth-style natural woodland maze of troglodyte shelters and picturesque ruins. This afternoon, enjoy some relaxation in the beautiful and luxurious surroundings of Château des Vigiers, followed by your second gourmet dinner at the château. Spa treatments, if interested, are available at Château des Vigiers and can be arranged by the hotel.
Day 9: Vézère Valley & Les Eyzies
Today, depart Château des Vigiers along a leisurely backroad route. You will wind your way through some beautiful villages, scenic valleys, makings stops along the way. By lunchtime you’ll arrive at the “capital of prehistory”, the village of Les Eyzies, at the heart of the Vézère Valley, with its prehistoric caves and rock shelters, it stretches out along the foot of ochre-colored cliffs that bear traces of some of the earliest human settlements. Visit Grotte de Font-de-Gaume, a cave where walls are covered with colored paintings dating from the Magdalenian period (BC 17,000 years), and drawings and engravings of around 200 animals. Next, continue your journey to Sarlat-la-Canéda for a three-night stay at the 4-star Plaza Madeleine Hôtel & Spa. Sarlat is a pedestrian-filled town, serenely set amid forested hills with an attractive tangle of golden cobblestone lanes peppered with beautiful buildings, lined with boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and foie gras shops.
Day 10: Château de Beynac, La Roque-Gageac & Domme
Today, depart for Château de Beynac, perched high above the banks of the Dordogne overlooking the medieval village of golden stone houses tucked into the steep hillside. The fortress’ strategic position made it a defensive stronghold during the Hundred Years’ War. This masterpiece of medieval military engineering was guarded by Europe’s most illustrious figures, including the chivalrous Richard the Lionheart (1157 to 1199) and Fourth Crusader Simon de Montfort (1175 to 1218). Traverse its elaborate series of stone walls, parapet walks, watchtowers and passageways to an eclectic interior decorated with a magnificent 17th‑century staircase and delicate 15th‑century frescoes. This afternoon, return to Sarlat via the beautiful villages of La Roque Gageac, built into the cliffs, and Domme, a hilltop village with dramatic panoramic views.
Day 11: Rocamador & Souillac
This morning, leave for the famed Dordogne village of Rocamador. Built on the face of a sheer 400-foot cliff, the UNESCO World Heritage-designated village of Rocamadour has one of the most dramatic settings of any village in the world. An important stop along the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Compostela, pilgrims flocked here from across Europe to perform penance by ascending the 216 steps of Le Grand Escalier on their knees—seeking miracles from the sacred 12th‑century statue of the Black
Virgin and Child at the crypt of Saint Amadour. Embedded in the cliff above the doorway to the Chapelle de Notre Dame is a sword said to be that of the heroic knight Roland. Nearby, visit the quaint town of Souillac and its 12th‑century Abbaye Sainte‑Marie, noted for its magnificent Byzantine roof domes and treasury of Romanesque statuary and biblical carvings. Savor a lunch of regional specialties at a village
restaurant and a local vineyard for wine tasting.
Day 12: Sarlat & St Amand-de-Coly & St Leon sur Vezer
This morning, enjoy a morning tour of Sarlat with an opportunity for some tastings of the local specialties or a visit to the city’s famous food market (Wed and Sat). Afterwards, depart Sarlat for a visit to the village of St Amand-de-Coly (fortified medieval church). This afternoon, continue your journey with a stop along the way in Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère—the church here is built on the site of an ancient Gallo-Roman villa—to your historic Relais & Château accommodation, Le Vieux Logis, for a two-night stay. American author Henry Miller planned to spend a week at this hotel in the heart of the black Périgord but ended up staying a month. Like the author, you will appreciate the tranquility of this former priory with its lovely gardens, babbling brook and natural pool. Enjoy a gourmet dinner in the former tobacco drying barn that has been converted into the main dining room.
Day 13: Perigueux
Today, enjoy a whole-day excursion to Perigueux. You’ll enjoy a private-guided tour of the splendid historic center, dominated by the multi-domed Cathedrale Saint-Front and the Abbaye de Chancelade. You will also visit Vesunna, the Roman villa housed in a glass building and the Musee d’Art et d’Archeologie. Return to Le Vieux Logis for some time to relax prior to your farewell gourmet dinner.
Day 14: Bordeaux TGV to Charles de Gaulle Airport
This morning, wind your way back to Bordeaux where you will depart on the high-speed TGV train in first class to either Charles de Gaulle airport for your return flight or to Paris, where you may extend your stay.
Included with this private tour:
13 nights of hotel accommodation at the hotels described
7 gourmet dinners of local French specialties
3 foodie lunches of local French specialties
Tastings at local food markets
Tours of all vineyards described with tastings
Tour of a Cognac distillery with tastings
Guided tour of Grotte de Font-de-Gaume
Professional French chauffeur/guides trained as a sommelier
Private-guided tours where specified either with your guide or a specialist guide
Travel in luxury fully air-conditioned vehicles
River cruise on a Gabares
First class train tickets on the TGV from Bordeaux to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
All entrance fees and experiences as described
Choose your dates. Price is determined by season, accommodation, and the number of people in your group. Prices below are a guideline for the hotels specified in this itinerary, and may change in accordance with your individual preferences.
Prices are based on luxury accommodation.
From $7890 per person (group of 8 people)
From $8890 per person (group of 6 people)
From $9890 per person (group of 4 people)
All prices are in US dollars and based on sharing a room for double occupancy.
Chartres: Le Grand Monarque
The Grand Monarque Hotel is situated in an ancient private historical building just where the pedestrian-only streets commence and is the ideal base for visiting the famous cathedral and the historical town center of Chartres. Once in the entrance hall, you’ll discover a comfortable and elegant ambiance with a gastronomical reputation of great renown. The hotel is considered Chartres best hotel, but perhaps slightly short of 5-star.
Fontevraud Abbey: Fontevraud L’Hotel
Savor the monastic charms of Fontevraud, set in a vast 12th century abbey complex in the Loire Valley. The rooms are monastic but not austere, putting the emphasis on natural materials – solid oak, cream linen, steel, white bathrooms – with a comfortable bed and good insulation to provide monastic calm. Guests enjoy free access to the Abbey and dinner at an excellent Michelin starred restaurant.
Bordeaux: Hôtel de Sèze, Bordeaux
This impeccably smart and stylish urban hotel exceeds the brief of four-star luxury with its heavenly spa, fine-dining bistro, and boutique bedrooms. Hotel de Sèze stands out for its slick service and the sheer opulence of fabrics and finish. It is located on the Allées de Tourny, dating from 1747, one of three elegant thoroughfares forming Bordeaux's Golden Triangle. The Grand Theatre is a five-minute walk away, and the high-end shopping amenities of the Place des Grands Hommes and the Cours d'Intendance are equally close. A confident and sophisticated decorative touch has been applied throughout the hotel. In the lobby, antique furniture mingles with designer lamps and sofas. In the cozy Salon des Illustres, with its open fire, 19th-century refinement is reimagined in splendid purples and reds.
Bergerac: Château des Vigiers
Château des Vigiers is a grandiose château hotel with period and modern rooms, a velvet-green golf course between plum trees and a sensational Michelin-starred restaurant courtesy of French chef Didier Casaguana. It is located on its very own 300-acre estate fringed with chestnut woods, an oak forest, fruit orchards and vineyards. The 17th-century château cocoons guests in a magical haven of peace, serenity and old-fashioned romance befitting of a hotel in the quality-guaranteed SLH (Small Luxury Hotels of the World) consortium. The 25 unique rooms slumber on a trio of floors in the 17th-century château. Décor is period: antique furniture, heavy drapes, richly-colored fabrics and plush toile de jouy wallpapers printed with vintage cherubs, court and hunting scenes.
Sarlat-la-Canéda: Plaza Madeleine Hôtel & Spa
Plaza Madeleine hotel is located on the fringe of the historic quarter overlooking Square du 8 Mai, a pretty tree-shaded square with a small bench-clad park. Sarlat-la-Canéda is easy to explore on foot, with the cathedral, covered market inside Gothic Sainte Marie church and a panoramic lift all being within a five-minute walk. Tradition and modernity enjoy an easy and harmonious marriage at this unpretentious, naturally elegant four-star hotel. Features include an attractive patio garden with potted palm and olive trees, a sun terrace, and small heated swimming pool. Décor throughout is classical with striped wallpapers and carpets, colorful cushions and bed throws, and highly effective double or triple glazing windows – plus blinds and curtains – to guarantee peaceful, undisturbed sleep. The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant (except for breakfast), but the Plaza Bar serves tempting cheese and charcuterie platters, foie gras, croques monsieurs and other light bites from 4pm onwards. Sit outside on the terrace and watch the world go by, Armagnac cocktail in hand, or cozy up in the all-dark wood-and-black leather Gentleman Club-styled interior with a Bergerac red from the Enomatic – a snazzy self-service, wine-dispensing machine stocked with 16 regional wines.
Trémolat: Le Vieux Logis
For gourmets and garden lovers, this bucolic idyll is simply perfect. Le Vieux Logis is a boutique hotel in an ancient priory with sumptuous French gardens, pool and stylish rooms. Occupying a 16th-century priory, this cozy address run by a small but dedicated team oozes panache. It was one of France’s first boutique hotels to be taken under the wing of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux hotel label in 1955, and its stylish period furnishings evoke the grace and elegance of a bourgeois country home beautifully. Be prepared to dine exceedingly well. A copious buffet breakfast is served in one of two dining rooms or on the patio beneath romantic linden trees. Enjoy dinner at the hotel’s Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurant, in a former barn used to dry tobacco.
We can also offer the tour with more moderately priced hotels.
The trip was fabulous! Your personnel were absolutely wonderful. The guides assigned were both tremendously knowledgeable and very personable. I would even say that the drivers were first rate. They all made the trip that much more enjoyable. We saw everything we wanted to. Our guides all followed our wishes and modified the itinerary on the fly when we started to slow down. I would highly recommend your agency.
Earl and Rita - Massachusetts