Tailormade tour Bordeaux vineyards and Dordogne castles rail-drive tour France

8 nights/9 days

Bordeaux • Dordogne

This holiday by train and then hire-car to tour offers you the chance to explore at leisure the vineyards of Bordeaux and then travel to stay at two different hotels in the Dordogne region, with three nights at each place. You have time to visit the castles perched along the river Dordogne, both mediaeval and Renaissance, to explore the pretty market towns and the pre-historic sites of the region.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £1,870 per person.

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Bordeaux vineyards and Dordogne castles

Highlights

Bordeaux • Visit Medoc vineyards • Visit St Emilion • Dordogne • Visit Sarlat • Visit Les Eyzies and Lescaux • Kayak on the Dordogne • Visit La Roche-Gageac

Day by day

Depart London St Pancras on a morning Eurostar service, and after changing stations in Paris continue through the French countryside to Bordeaux. You arrive here around 5.30pm and collect your hire car before driving about 20 minutes to your hotel, where you spend two nights.

The city of Bordeaux is a thriving hub of wine-making in the Aquitaine region. On the bank of the Gironde Estuary, just south of the Médoc Peninsula, and about 40 minutes’ drive from world-famous Saint-Emilion, Le Saint-James is the ideal place to be based in order to explore this region. Track down one of the impressive wine châteaux dotted across the region, such as the Château Rauzan Gassies and the Château Mouton Rothschild, to taste the fruity Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and experience the distinctive vanilla and coffee aromas that develop as the wines of the area age. Other grape varieties in the region include Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Within the port city of Bordeaux, much more than wine-tasting is on offer. Stroll around the city streets to get a feel for the wealth of extensive and interesting architecture. Recommended stop-off points include The Amphithéâtre de Bordeaux dit Palais Gallien, the Cathédrale de Bordeaux, the Opéra National de Bordeaux, and the Basilica of St. Michael.

From Bouliac it’s about an hour and a quarter to your next hotel stay: the Chateau de Vigiers near Monestier. You have most of the day to explore before reaching Monestier. On the way, we suggest that you stop off to visit the Chateau de Vayres on the banks of the Dordogne. This mediaeval castle once belonged to the kings of Navarre before being inherited by Henri IV. It has been classified as a historical landmark of France and its original gardens, which were recreated in 1938, are listed among the Notable Gardens of France. The next stop could be at the picturesque wine village of Saint Emilion, and then about 25 minutes further on is the Chateau et Tour Michel de Montaigne. The Chateau de Montaigne was a 14th century building in which Michel de Montaigne was born and died. The original chateau burnt down in 1885, but the library tower was spared from the fire. Visitors to the chateau can see Montaigne’s rooms which have not been altered since he lived and worked there, as well as his bedroom, the chapel and the library. You stay for three nights at Monestier.

You have two full days to explore Bergerac and the surrounding area. One important castle nearby is the Chateau de Monbazillac, a 16th century chateau from the Renaissance period whose vineyards and wines are well known beyond the borders of the Aquitaine region. The views from the terraces are extraordinarily wide, over the Dordogne river and Bergerac. The castle cellar holds about 6,000 bottles. Wine-tastings are available. Nearby is the historic, 15th century Chateau de Bridoire at Ribagnac in the heart of the Monbazillac vines. Bergerac also offers wine-tasting opportunities in the Musée du Vin et de la Battelerie. 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.

Drive just over one hour from Chateau des Vigiers to Le Vieux Logis at Tremolat where you spend the next three nights. The hotel is located on a bend in the river Dordogne and is ideally located for visits to local markets and activities such as canoeing on the river.

You have two days to explore the castles and local area around Trémolat. We suggest a visit to the village of Belves, a lively and attractive bastide town built up the side of a steep rocky outcrop. Belves is known for its seven bell towers that date from as far back as the 11th century, and the troglodyte dwellings offer a fascinating glimpse of medieval life. The last castle that we recommend for this tour is the Chateau de Biron near Monpazier. This extensive building dates from the 12th century and commands stunning views of the surrounding countryside, however since the last owner sold all the furniture to pay off his debts the rooms and halls are sadly empty. Along the length of the river be sure to see the Chateau des Milandes, the chateau at Beynac-et-Cazenac, and the Chateau de Castelnaud-la-Chapelle with its collection of mediaeval weapons. Nearby are the gardens of Marqueyssac, listed as a National Monument and planted with box through which there are numerous paths, creating a maze-like effect. There are fantastic views from a belvedere. Other gardens nearby include the Clos des Sources at Vitrac and the Jardins d’Eyrignac. Other notable villages in the area are La Roque Gageac, Domme and Beynac. From La Roque Gageac it is also easy to hire a canoe or to take a river trip on one of the gabarres, a boat designed after the old river trading boats.

You return your hire-car to Libourne this morning and take the TGV from here to Paris. If you leave Libourne just before 11.00 hrs you arrive back in London on the Eurostar just after 16.30 hrs.

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,870 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including standard class rail travel. Supplement for standard premier/first class about £270 per person.

Holiday Code FRBR04

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Bordeaux vineyards and Dordogne castles

Holiday price guide Prices from £1,870 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including standard class rail travel. Supplement for standard premier/first class about £270 per person.

Holiday Code FRBR04

Our prices include ● Standard class Eurostar and second-class TGV from London to Bordeaux, Libourne to London (standard premier can be booked at a supplement)
● Hire of a group B car for 8 days
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Deluxe double room at Le Saint James in Boulliac
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at Chateau des Vigiers in Monestier
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Comfort double room at Le Vieux Logis in Tremolat
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel
● Transfers in Paris

Additional information Driving times for this touring holiday
Bordeaux to Bouliac 20 minutes
Bouliac to Monestier 1 hr 15 minutes
Monestier to Tremolat 1 hr
Tremolat to Libourne 1 hr and 30 minutes

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Bordeaux vineyards and Dordogne castles

Highlights of Bordeaux

Visit vineyards and chateaux, for tasting and buying. Visit the oyster beds. Experience the Cognac distilleries, and the Romanesque architecture. Bordeaux is the historical centre for wine however you may also visit the villages of the wine region such as St Emilion.

Climate in the Bordeaux Region

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: Jan: 10.0, Feb: 9.4, Mar: 12.2, Apr: 19.5, May: 18.0, Jun: 23.7, Jul: 27.2, Aug: 25.7, Sep: 24.2, Oct: 19.7, Nov: 15.4, Dec: 11.0. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Bordeaux vineyards and Dordogne castles

Highlights of Dordogne

Cultural highlights include ceramics, wine festivals, foie gras and truffles, wild mushrooms, castles, valleys, water-sports, and local walks.

Climate of Dordogne

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: Jan: 10.0, Feb: 9.4, Mar: 12.2, Apr: 19.5, May: 18.0, Jun: 23.7, Jul: 27.2, Aug: 25.7, Sep: 24.2, Oct: 19.7, Nov: 15.4, Dec: 11.0. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

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