'Real' South of France Tours
LANGUEDOC I: BEST KEPT SECRETS
6 DAY 'WINE PLUS' TOUR ITINERARY
DAY 1 - SATURDAY
This afternoon you will be picked up from Narbonne train station or Carcassonne train station or airport (other pickups by prior arrangement).
You will check-in to our award winning B & B which has been ranked in the top 25 in France!
Sleep on deep sumptuous super king mattresses with the finest 100% cotton linen usually found in exclusive hotels. All of our contemporary en-suite bathrooms have luxurious pure cotton bath towels and beautiful organic bathroom products.
This evening you will join us for a fun and informative tapas and wine tasting evening presented by one of our local wine masters.
Sainte-Hélene Chambres d'hôtes © LMW
DAY 2 - SUNDAY
Narbonne & Fontfroide Abbey
Following breakfast our first stop is Narbonne where we will explore the beautiful Cathédral de St-Just and view the Archbishops Palace and even see a slice of the Via Domitia, the first Roman road built in the region linking Italy and Spain. We will also visit the last remaining building from Roman times. The picturesque Canal de la Robine runs right through the centre of the city.
Just before lunch we visit the famous covered food market called Les Halles, which is open every morning of the year. We have time to enjoy the sights and smells of the market before enjoying a tapas style lunch with one of the local wine producers.
Les Halles, Narbonne © LMW
Mid afternoon we head to arguably the most beautiful abbey in our region and our personal favourite,
Fontfroide Abbey which is a fully preserved former Cistercian monastery built in the 12th Century.
© Fontfroide Abbey
The Abbey is situated in 2 hectares of restored terraced gardens from the 16th Century including one of the largest rose gardens in southern France. We tour the abbey and gardens before heading back to Sainte-Hélène to relax before dinner at your leisure.
DAY 3 - MONDAY
Roman Vineyards Tour
Between the city of Narbonne and the Mediterranean sea is one of the most highly regarded wine regions in the south of France. Its called La Clape and it took its name from the old Occitan word for pile of stones ‘clapas’.
The Roman Vineyards of La-Clape ©VeV
They have been growing vines here for millennia and the wines were highly prized by the Romans who transported them back to Rome to be enjoyed there too.
La Clape is exceptionally dry, breezy and is one of the sunniest areas in southern France and this intense Languedoc climate helps to produce the exceptional wines we will learn about and taste on this wine tour.
The vineyard tour begins with a visit to one of the finest wineries in the region where we will taste both red and white wines. The white wines include an ancient grape called Bourboulenc which nearly disappeared but here it is nurtured and blended with other varietals to produce some of the finest white wines in the south of France.
After this visit we will head for the old circulade town of Gruissan to see the amazing landscape of the pink salt pans. Lunch is a fabulous sea food feast, including delicious locally farmed oysters and fresh fish baked in salt (an alternative menu is available if preferred). You will have time to visit the salt museum and salt shop where different varieties of salt can be purchased.
The salt pans, Gruissan © LMW
Our second vineyard experience is also on La Clape but this time on a different terroir on the opposite side of the Massif de la Clape. Here they make an interesting range of wines which makes for a superb contrast to the morning visit.
This evening you will join us for a relaxed dinner at the B & B...
DAY 4 - TUESDAY
Olonzac Market, Plus beau village of Minerve and Olive Tour
Late morning we visit Minerve which is the most well known village in the Minervois. It sits high above the confluence of two large river gorges, the Cesse and the Brian (pronounced bree-on!) and is primarily known as being the site of one of the first Cathar strongholds held siege by the Crusaders. It is listed as one of France’s plus beaux (most beautiful) villages. Today lunch is at a restaurant in Minerve overlooking the beautiful Brian Gorge.
Plus Beau Village of Minerve © LMW
Dinner at your leisure...
This morning we will visit the lively Olonzac market which is the largest in the region and only a couple of minutes walk from your front door! There are plenty of stalls to sample and buy the fantastic variety of local produce – wine, cheese, meats, honey, olives, olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables, men's and women's clothing, as well as everything else you would expect to find at a great market!
The fabulous local Lucques olives © LMW
After lunch we tour one of the best olive producers in France. We learn how the olives are grown and harvested and made into oil with particular emphasis on local varieties including the premium olive variety called Lucques.
Olonzac Market © KMW
DAY 5 - WEDNESDAY
Wine tour - Corbières and Lagrasse
After breakfast we head off to the Corbières region and we will take you to a place of contrasts where cicadas sing, and buzzards circle lazily against a blue sky above the wild and windswept Corbières hills. The vineyards are perched on rocky hillsides and the roads wind round and round as we make our way towards our first vineyard visit in the heart of the Cru Boutenac.
This is an area dedicated to the culture of the vine since Roman times and currently the only cru in the Corbières. We will take a walk through the vines, some of them more than a century old. We will also enjoy a tour of the winery which is ancient but modernised to use the latest techniques to produce fabulous Corbières wines. The award-winning reds are made from a blend of Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah and the whites from Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Rousanne.
After an extensive tasting of Corbières and Corbières-Boutenac wines we will head for the beautiful village of Lagrasse to enjoy a delicious lunch accompanied by wine from the Corbières.
Ancient bridge at Lagrasse © LMW
After lunch you will take a fascinating stroll around Lagrasse which is one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and learn some of the history that spans at least 1000 years. Your route will take you along the narrow cobbled ‘ruelles’ and along the way, between the town and the abbey, in squares and behind facades, there are stories to be told and a fascinating medieval history to be revealed. You will have the chance to take a browse through some of the small boutiques and also visit the local vinegar maker and taste his wares.
Now it’s time to head off to our final visit of the day in a nearby village and in a different part of the Corbières than our morning visit. You will see how terroir makes a difference and meet a passionate wine maker producing top quality Corbières wines from a small artisanal winery.
This evening we will have dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY 6 - THURSDAY
UNESCO listed La Cité of Carcassonne & Grotte de Cabrespine
This morning we visit the world renowned UNESCO listed La Cité, the old walled town of Carcassonne which is the largest medieval fortress in Europe. It has picturesque cobblestoned streets and houses, the beautiful Basilica of St Nazaire, and ramparts containing 52 towers – all of which we will explore. We also view it from afar so you see the full grandeur of this imposing site.
UNESCO Listed La Cité of Carcassonne © SS
Lunch today is a gourmet picnic in a hidden relaxed location in the heart of the Minervois wine region....
Time for a well earned rest after a fabulous few days before we have our sensational private farewell dinner...a food and wine spectacular!
Cabrespine Cavern © LMW
This afternoon we visit Cabrespine Cavern which is the largest cave in France open to the public. It’s taller than the Eiffel Tower and quite spectacular!
DAY 7 - FRIDAY
After breakfast we say farewell as we transfer you to our designated drop off points to continue your travels.