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  • Self-drive touring holiday to the Dordogne

    Auberge de la Source

    Auberge de la Source

    Chateaux Chenonceau, Loire Valley

    Château de Noirieux

    Chateaux de Noirieux

    The Dordogne

    Chateau des Vigiers

    Chateaux des Vigiers

    Chateaux des Vigiers

    Chateau de Marcay

    Chateaux de Marcay

    Chateaux de Marcay

    Self-drive touring holiday travelling overland to the Dordogne region

    8 nights and 9 days
    The Dordogne region is a truly rewarding and enjoyable holiday destination. As it is situated towards the middle-south of France, this self-drive tour takes you through even more of France’s varied and delightful landscape: experience the fun of the open country roads, sleepy villages, and changing architecture. This holiday encourages a leisurely sojourn in the Dordogne and a taster of France en route as you stop at different hotels in Normandy and the Loire Valley.

    Click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested French touring holidays.

    Having arrived in Calais via the Eurotunnel, drive through Normandy towards the Cotentin peninsula, a picturesque region famed for its superb cheeses, cider and heady calvados. Stay for the night at Auberge de la Source in the Calvados region near Honfleur before continuing your journey south through the hill country of la Suisse Normande, where lofty crags tower above undulating pastures and wooded valleys. As you descend into the regal garden of France, the landscapes level to offer mile-upon-mile of glorious pastoral views, bisected by the Loire, France’s longest river. After a one night stay at Château de Noirieux outside historic Angers, continue through the Loire Valley, rightfully declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to the environs of Chinon, in readiness for your journey south to the Dordogne. Spend fivheree nights at the Château des Vigiers in Monestier near Bergerac, where a veritable treasure trove of delights, both natural and man-made, are all just a stone’s throw away. On your return journey stop over at Château de Marçay near Chinon before heading back to Calais for the Eurotunnel return.

    PRICES
    Prices for this self-drive holiday from £1460 per person

    What's included:
    • One night’s bed and breakfast at the Auberge de la Source in Honfleur
    • One night’s bed and breakfast at the Château de Noirieux near Angers
    • Five nights' bed and breakfast at the Château des Vigiers in Monestier
    • One night's bed and breakfast at Château de Marçay in Marçay
    • Eurotunnel return from Folkestone to Calais

    Click the 'Hotel Information' tab to find out more about the hotels featured on this touring itinerary, or click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested French touring holidays.

    Self-drive touring holiday travelling overland to the Dordogne region

    Day-by-Day Itinerary

    DAY ONE
    Calais to Honfleur

    Your first stop on this touring holiday is the seaside town of Honfleur, characterised by the tall colourful French townhouses that line the water’s edge. The Auberge de la Source, just outside Honfleur, is an idyllic country retreat, with stone walls, oak beams, and parquet flooring. If time permits, we recommend visiting the nearby towns of Trouville-sur-Mer and Deauville. Trouville has always been a favourite amongst artists and authors, attracting the likes of Monet, Proust, Flaubert and Marguerite Duras. As a result, regular exhibitions are held at the Villa Montebello, the former residence of Napoleon. Deauville, on the other hand, just across the water from Trouville and reachable by ferry, is a very chic French town. A favourite haunt of Napoleon and Coco Chanel, this town exudes fashion and modernity, whilst retaining its more traditional features. Perhaps time this tour to briefly visit the Deauville Film Festival, or simply explore the boutique shops at the Place Morny, and wander down the Promenade de Planches. A market is held in the Place du Marché every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, selling local produce, including the local specialities, camembert and cider. Alternatively, head to the white cliffs of Étretat to see the formidable land formations and their gorgeous views over the turquoise sea.

    DAY TWO
    Honfleur to Angers

    The town of Angers sits in the garden of France, the Loire Valley. The Château de Noirieux is a grand building with high ceilings and elegant furnishings, really setting the scene for your stay amongst the grandeur of the Loire. Loire de Lumière boats offer river tours from Angers around the 300km of navigable waterways in the region. These tours vary from wildlife and nature tours, to cocktail and concert evenings. For something a little more traditional, take the river shuttle to any one of the nearby riverside towns. If you’re looking for an active and adventurous afternoon, perhaps travel to Trélazé to scuba dive in the slate quarry, or to Marcé for a balloon or micro-light ride. However, it is essential to experience the quintessentially Loire châteaux before moving on with the tour. The Château de Brissac is the home to the 13th Duke of Brissac, and open to the public. Take a tour of this magnificent building - through the Duke’s collection of paintings, the unique private theatre commissioned by the Duchess in the 19th century and dedicated solely to opera, and into the wine-cellar, where you will be able to taste the wine produced on the Duke’s estate. Spend your evening revelling in the elegance and grandeur of your hotel.

    DAYS THREE TO SEVEN
    Angers to Monestier, and stay for five nights

    Travel south on your third day to Monestier and the Château des Vigiers, situated conveniently in the lush Dordogne countryside between the larger towns of Bordeaux and Bergerac. Once again, the landscape around this peaceful rural village is dotted with wine-producing châteaux. Head towards Bordeaux for internationally renowned Saint-Émilion and the vineyards that have clustered around it, and further north along the Gironde Estuary for the Médoc peninsula. The wine of the Bordeaux area is as famous as it is distinctive. Visit such château as the Château Rauzan Gassies, or the Château Mouton Rothschild, to taste the fruity Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and take in the vanilla and roasted coffee aromas of the wines that have been aged for longer. East of Monestier, Bergerac also offers wine-tasting opportunities in the Musée du Vin et de la Battelerie. The Musée is the ideal place to get a real feel for the produce of the land without having to travel. Further east, the village of Sarlat-la-Canéda offers a tour of the Palaeolithic art of the Dordogne that takes you through the National Prehistory Museum and into the Lascaux Cave II. Bordeaux itself is shaped by bold and impressive architecture, from the Amphithéâtre de Bordeaux dit Palais Gallien, to the amazing Cathédrale de Bordeaux, Basilica of St Michael, and Opéra National de Bordeaux. Spend a leisurely afternoon taking in the sights, and really appreciating the aesthetics of these buildings, before seeing a show at the Grand Théâtre or viewing the artwork in the Musée des Beaux-Arts. In Bergerac, experience the lively hubbub of conviviality at the weekly (Wednesday and Saturday) market in the centre of town, whilst picking up a few local treasures, be it food, wine, or arts and crafts. For a trip back into Dordogne history, visit the many nearby hidden gems, such as the small medieval village of Issigeac, the Château de Lanquais (recognised to be one of the greatest historical monuments in the area), the Château de Monbazillac with its unusual combination of medieval and Renaissance architecture, the model bastide of Monpazier, or the crystalline Maxange caves.

    DAY EIGHT
    Monestier to Marçay

    The Château de Marçay sits just outside Chinon in 15 acres of perfectly maintained grounds. This beautiful setting encourages a night of relaxation before heading back to Calais. If time permits, however, there are a great number of cultural sights and experiences to be had in this area. On the bank of the river Vienne, Chinon is built around a 10th century fortress atop a formidable rocky hill. Tied in to the legend of King Arthur, the interactive historical tour inside the Chinon Fortresse Royale adds a very modern twist to this fantastically old building. If you arrive at Chinon before lunch, we highly recommend eating at the Château de Rivau, which serves only food grown on its estate. For another dose of authentic French wine, visit Pierre et Bertrand Couly, a very popular wine-tasting spot. Take a tour of modern wine-making processes at the Domaine de Noire, or go back to more traditional processes in the atmospheric La Cave Monplaisir. At the heart of this setting, however, is the river Vienne, a tributary of the Loire; to fully appreciate the rivers of this region, hire a bicycle in Chinon, and spend your final afternoon exploring.

    DAY NINE
    Return to Calais

    Return north to Calais after a leisurely breakfast and one last stroll in the grounds of the Château.

    Driving times for this touring holiday:
    Calais to Honfleur: 2 hours 45 minutes
    Honfleur to Angers: 2 hours 45 minutes
    Angers to Monestier: 4 hours 40 minutes
    Monestier to Chinon: 4 hours
    Chinon to Calais: 5 hours 10 minutes

    Overland to Dordogne v2

    Hotel Information

    Below is some information regarding each of the hotels featured in this touring itinerary. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations - please contact us for full details.

    Auberge de la Source
    Honfleur
    The four-star Auberge de la Source is a most attractive and delightful half-timbered and red-brick farmhouse of exceptional character, set in bucolic pastoral landscapes on the edge of a forest just a stone’s throw from the picture-postcard town of Honfleur. Nestled in charming, tranquil gardens shaded by apple trees and filled with flowers and ponds stocked full of trout and sturgeon, the hotel comprises the main auberge and two separate annexes, La Longère and Le Pavillon, where the 15 rooms are located. Abundant in charm and rustic character, many of the rooms at Auberge de la Source boast authentic original features, such as stone walls, oak beams and parquet flooring and overlook either the gardens or ponds. Incredibly stylish and immaculately presented throughout, choose between intimate and atmospheric Campagne rooms or slightly larger Charme rooms which offer an even greater level of rustic refinement. Auberge de la Source also offers a suite and mezzanine rooms perfect for those traveling with children. Set in the main building, the restaurant offers a welcoming and inviting ambience for dinner, particularly in the winter when a warming fire burns in the hearth. In the spring and summer months, dinner on the terrace under the apple trees is a particularly magical experience. The menu features traditional Normandy cuisine and fresh country produce and dinner will undoubtedly be a highlight of your stay here. Other features of Auberge de la Source include a massage room and bicycles are available to hire.
    Find out more here.

    Château de Noirieux
    Angers
    The Château de Noirieux is a superbly restored château and manor house. The buildings of this four-star Relais and Châteaux member consist of a manor house dating from the 15th Century, now converted into spacious and very comfortable bedrooms and the château itself, dating from the 17th Century, refurbished in the 1920s and again in the last couple of years, housing the public areas and several bedrooms. You approach the Château de Noirieux along a drive and then through an avenue of horse chestnut and walnut trees. The attention to detail in the decoration is noticeable throughout; in the cosy lounge with its open fire place, the bar and the elegant restaurant. There is also a terrace outside the restaurant where meals are served in fine weather. The Michelin-starred restaurant continues to gain a well deserved reputation, the chef being Gerard Côme. There is an open air swimming pool, a Jacuzzi in the pool house, cycles, a tennis court and table tennis. There is a ground-floor bedroom with wheelchair access in the manor house. All bedrooms are extremely comfortable and have private bathroom, telephone, television with satellite channels and mini-bar (there is no lift). The Château de Noirieux is highly recommended for luxurious short breaks or long, relaxing stays.
    Find out more here.

    Château des Vigiers
    Monestier
    The Château des Vigiers in Monestier was built in the late 16th Century by Jean Vigier, the Royal Judge of Ste Foy La Grande, although there is evidence to suggest that a much earlier fortified construction was on the site prior to the Château being built; one of the towers of the existing structure is thought to date back to the 12th Century. The Château des Vigiers has been sympathetically restored to create an elegant hotel with three different types of accommodation from the beautiful classic and deluxe rooms in the main château building, to suites and standard doubles in the adjacent ‘Dependances’ buildings with a further modern Relais situated near the first tee at the golf course, housing large airy, modern rooms overlooking the golf course. The gourmet restaurant Les Fresques, awarded one Michelin star in 2014, is open for dinner in the evening (apart from Wednesdays and Sundays) and serves excellent regional dishes accompanied by an extensive wine list, including those produced on the estate. The Brasserie ‘Le Chai’ is open for lunch and dinner every day and offers light snacks as well as more substantial dishes in an informal, relaxed atmosphere. The golf courses have been designed by Donald Steel, one of the most renowned ‘natural’ golf course architects and offer 27 holes in total, meaning that players can effectively play 3 different configurations of an 18 hole course. If golf is not your ‘thing’ then there is a beauty centre at the Château des Vigiers offering treatments, two outdoor heated swimming pools, gym and sauna. Alternatively, the region has a huge amount to offer in terms of cultural highlights and places to visit from the numerous Châteaux of the Dordogne to prehistoric caves, ornate gardens and ancient churches.
    Find out more here.

    Château de Marçay
    Marçay, near Chinon
    The Château de Marçay near Chinon is a superb four-star château hotel, built in the white-blond stone typical of many of the châteaux of Touraine. The hotel is absolutely enchanting both in terms of its breath-taking secluded and natural location and the quality of accommodation it offers. The Château de Marçay originally dates from the 12th Century, although the main building is in fact 15th Century. During a painstaking renovation programme, it became a hotel in 1971. The Château de Marçay enjoys a splendidly tranquil and rural setting in its own grassy parkland, with views onto the cornfields, sunflower fields and vineyards around it, while in the distance you can see rooftops of a local village. There are extensive lawns and terraces to the rear of the hotel where drinks are served in fine weather and there is also an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court. The interior of the Château de Marçay is spacious, serene and charmingly furnished. There are two very comfortable lounges where open fires roar in the winter under a blond stone chimney, a TV lounge, a bar and of course the restaurant. The elegant Michelin-starred restaurant is divided into two rooms, one decorated in hues of pink and the other in shades of blue. Rich fabrics complement the white stone walls and the dark timbers of the ceiling. The 30 bedrooms at the Château de Marçay vary enormously in size and location: some very spacious ones are in the main château itself and some are located in a wing of the château on two floors (these are more recent but offer a marvellous combination of stone, beams, terracotta floors and extremely comfortable furnishings). All rooms have private bath or shower and wc, telephone and television, and there is a lift to three floors in the main building of the Château de Marçay.
    Find out more here.

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  • France

    Find out more about France

    France FAST FACTS

    Capital

    Paris
    Airport
    Main airports are in Paris, Bordeaux and Lyon, with scheduled and low cost airlines flying into the country from all over the UK.
    Currency
    Euro (£1 = Euro 1.24)
    Size
    Roughly 600 miles wide and 700 miles long
    Population
    66 million
    Average temperature
    Varies dramatically, from about 8 degrees in winter in Brittany to 26 degrees in summer in Corsica, with snow on the Alps and Pyrenees year-round

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