'Real' South of France Tours
LANGUEDOC I: BEST KEPT SECRETS
7 DAY TOUR ITINERARY
This tour is recommended for people who have not visited this region of France before
DAY 1 - FRIDAY
Today 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 our welcome dinner…
Sainte-Hélene Chambres d'hôtes © LMW
DAY 2 - SATURDAY
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. In 2022 it was voted the best indoor food market in France! We have time to enjoy the sights and smells of the market before enjoying a tapas style lunch together with locally produced wine.
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 a local restaurant.
DAY 3 - SUNDAY
UNESCO listed La Cité of Carcassonne & Cabrespine Cavern
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....
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!
Cabrespine Cavern © LMW
Time for a well earned rest before we have a fun and informative tapas and wine tasting evening presented by one of our local wine masters.
DAY 4 - MONDAY
Plus Beau Village of Minerve and Canal Boat Tour
After a leisurely breakfast 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.
Plus Beau Village of Minerve © LMW
Today lunch is at the renowned restaurant Aux 2 Rivieres in Minerve overlooking the Brian and Cesse Gorges.
In the afternoon we enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the UNESCO listed Canal du Midi leaving from the pretty village of Le Somail.
UNESCO Listed Canal du Midi © LMW
Dinner at your leisure...
DAY 5 - TUESDAY
Olonzac Market and Cooking Class
A foodies delight!
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 the fantastic variety of local produce – wine, cheese, meats, honey, olives, olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as everything else you would expect to find at a great market!
Olonzac Market © KMW
At midday we will share a light lunch at Sainte-Hélène with produce bought from the Olonzac market.
After lunch we will head to the foothills of the Black Mountains to cook and enjoy 'French food with a twist' with Chef Nathalie Nahoum. We will be using seasonal produce all sourced from within our region.
The cooking classes with Nathalie are relaxed, fun and not too technical! You may be a skilled cook who wants to be “hands-on” or someone who just likes to sit back, watch and learn...
You'll be shown traditional and modern methods providing you with useful skills and simple tips that help you to create French cuisine with a modern twist! You will also learn to adapt each dish to suit the produce available and share tips on traditional techniques.
Cooking School ©KMW & Nathalie Nahoum
THEN ENJOY – in the early evening you will relax and enjoy the meal that you have prepared accompanied by local wine.
DAY 6 - WEDNESDAY
A Taste Of The Corbières
This tour to the Corbières & Lagrasse 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.
We first make our way towards our vineyard visit in 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.
Corbières Wine Cellar - photo courtesy of the vineyard
We will enjoy a tour of a 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 grape varieties.
After a tasting of Corbières and Corbières-Boutenac wines we will head further into the Corbières hills to the beautiful village of Lagrasse and enjoy a delicious lunch accompanied by wines from the Corbières at an award winning restaurant.
Plus Beau Village of 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.
Now it’s time to head off to our final visit of the day which is to a local vinegar maker where we will learn the secrets of making fabulous artisan wine and balsamic vinegars and also have the opportunity to savour some samples of his fabulous products.
This evening is at your leisure...
DAY 7 - THURSDAY
Olive Tour and Gruissan
The fabulous local Lucques olives © LMW
First stop today is a tour of 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. We enjoy a tasting of olives and olive oil with time to enjoy their fabulous shop.
Today lunch is at a popular restaurant in the old circulade town of Gruissan...
After lunch we will the amazing landscape of the local pink salt pans. You will have time to visit the salt museum and salt shop where different varieties of salt can be purchased as well as the fabulous local pottery and art.
The salt pans, Gruissan © LMW
Time for a well earned rest after a fabulous week before we have our sensational private farewell dinner...a food and wine spectacular!
DAY 8 - FRIDAY
After breakfast we say farewell to our new found friends as we transfer you to our designated drop off points to continue your travels.