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The Other South of France

Languedoc: A 9 day/8 Night Escorted Tour - September 20-28, 2015

Nice is nice and Provence is pretty. But the Languedoc region of Southern France is a treasure trove of culinary delights, an exciting new destination. From the Mediterranean Sea to the Pyrenees, you'll find charming covered markets, traditional French cuisine and the world's oldest sparkling wine - you didn't think it was champagne, did you?

Our French Associate Debra Fioritto, will be your guide and translator. Debra specializes in travel and tours to France's 71 government-designated gastronomic taste monuments Les Sites Remarquables du Gout. She is an expert in the history, legend and lore of French Cuisine and has eaten her way through most of the regions of France.

Over nine days and eight nights, Debra will guide you through ancient Roman roads and bridges, medieval castles and rambling ramparts. You'll not only feast on cassoulet, the hearty regional dish, but learn from an expert how to make it. You'll be delighted by the world's oldest sparkling wine and discover the secret world of truffles. This is an unforgettable trip.


Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival - Toulouse

Transfer to your 4* boutique hotel, located in a 17th century former convent in the "Pink City". Welcome dinner with Debra and your fellow travelers. Overnight in Toulouse.


Day 2 - Toulouse - Carcassonne

Breakfast at the hotel. Guided walking tour of Toulouse with a visit to Les Halles market. After lunch, drive to the fortified hilltop city of Carcassonne, a maze of narrow cobbled streets, ramparts of thick walls and turreted towers. Check into your luxury 5* hotel, inside the city walls, before a guided walking tour of the city. Evening at your leisure. Overnight in Carcassonne.


Day 3 - Carcassonne - St. Hilaire

Breakfast at your hotel. Depart for St. Hilaire and Limoux to discover the oldest sparkling wine in the world. A visit to the St. Hilaire Abbaye reveals the cellars where sparkling wine was first discovered in 1531. Taste Blanquette de Limoux, with an explanation from a wine master about the area's wine. Lunch will be served

This afternoon, a cooking class making your own cassoulet with the expert guidance of Chef Jean Marc. Evening at your leisure. Overnight in Carcassonne.


Day 4 - Narbonne

Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Narbonne, city of "art and history". Discover the old town, its gothic cathedral and parts of the Roman road, la via domitia, with your guide. The tour ends in Les Halles, Narbonne's famous covered market. Try some of the regional specialties before making your purchases for lunch.

After lunch, we'll visit La Clape, the oldest wine growing area in the world. Stand amongst the vines, marvel at the seascape and taste the wine. Depart for Sete.

Check in to your 4* hotel in Sete, overlooking the canal. Dinner and overnight in Sete.


Day 5 - Sete - Market Visit & Cooking Class

Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, our chef will guide you through the market as he purchases and points out regional products. You will prepare a French dish inspired by local seafood and other local ingredients. Lunch paired with regional wines follows. After lunch, a guided walking tour of the seaport of Sete. The rest of the day is at your leisure. Overnight in Sete.


Day 6 - Marseillan

Breakfast at hotel. This morning we visit Marseillan and have a private visit to Noilly Prat, to see how wine is fortified with herbs and spices and transformed into Vermouth. We top off the tour with a tasting of Noilly Prat's newest cocktail, "The Marseillan." Lunch is at the home of the famous "pink diamond oyster" right on the seaside, followed by a boat ride through the oyster beds. Back in Sete, visit the Paul Valery museum. Overnight in Sete.


Day 7 - Vineyard Visit - Pont du Gard - Uzes

Breakfast at hotel. This morning, discover the Larzac appellation, where the vines were originally planted by the Romans. You'll experience the art of oenology: taste wine directly from the barrel and learn about the varietals from which this wine is produced. Transfer to to the Pont du Gard to tour the famous Roman Aqueduct, a UNESCO world heritage site for a private guided tour to the top of the bridge, where the water flowed in Roman times. You'll visit the unique, interactive museum to learn how the Romans created this incredible engineering feat. This evening, transfer to Uzes, known as the "perfect small town in the south of France". Uzes boasts charming streets and alleys that wind around the family-owned castle. Overnight in Uzes.


Day 8 - Uzes

Breakfast at hotel. Private guided walking tour of the village. Following the tour, enter into the secret world of truffles! We'll start with a truffle lunch before discovering how truffles grow and are harvested. Walk among the various trees and learn why these "black diamonds" are so precious to chefs around the world. Back to Uzes with free time for shopping and packing before our farewell dinner. Overnight in Uzes.


Day 9 - Departure

Breakfast at hotel and transfer to Montpellier Airport or Railway Station.


Hotels

Grand Hotel de L'Opera, Toulouse
Hotel de la Cite, Carcassone
Le Grand Hotel, Sete
Hostellerie Provencale, Uzes