Tailormade tour French Catalonia self-drive holiday France

11 nights/12 days

Burgundy • Rhone Valley • French Pyrenees • Champagne

Your destination on this self-drive holiday to French Catalonia is the spa town of Molitg-les-Bains in the foothills of the Pyrenees and facing Mount Canigou, a mountain revered by the Catalans for centuries. You are amid hiking country, but the attractive Vermillion coast is only an hour’s drive away, so you can combine country pursuits with the coast. Your route takes you through Burgundy, along the Rhone valley into Languedoc-Roussillon, and back through Burgundy and Champagne.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from £2,140 per person.

Luxury self-drive holiday to French Catalonia with overnight stops in Burgundy, Rhone Valley and Champagne

Highlights

Eurotunnel crossing from Folkestone to Calais • Burgundy • Rhone Valley • French Pyrenees • Visit the Vermillion coast • Visit Villefranche-de-Conflent • Visit Mount Canigou • Visit Maury and Corbieres country • Visit Cathar castles • Champagne

Day by day

You start this self-drive touring holiday of France with the crossing on Eurotunnel for your car and passengers. From Calais to it’s a drive of about six hours through the Pas-de-Calais, around the cathedral city of Reims in the Champagne and then south-east passing Dijon to reach your overnight stop in Burgundy.

It’s worth making an early start today as there are many places of interest between here and Vienne where you’ll stop for the night. The driving time is only about three hours so make the most of stops along the route. Initially, on your doorstep you have some of the most famous vineyards of the Cote de Nuits such as those in Vosne-Romanée and Nuits-Saint-Georges and just a little further south is the picturesque town of Beaune, at the heart of Burgundy with its famous Hotel de Dieu. From Beaune, reject the A6 motorway for a while and take the route through the Cote de Beaune vineyards, visiting the villages of Pommard and Meursault. You return to this area for an overnight at the end of your holiday so you might want to join the motorway at this point and continue south. Tournus is worthy of a visit or even a lunch stop, and nearby, just off to the west is the Abbey at Cluny. South of Macon you enter the Beaujolais region, where you will be struck by the golden ochre of the village buildings, attributed to a local type of limestone. Perhaps visit the vineyards of Richard Rottiers, or the Clos de la Roilette, owned by the traditionalist Alain Coudert on the way to Vienne. Vienne itself has a rich cultural history with Roman monuments and buildings to visit. Visit the Temple d’Auguste et de Livie, the Roman amphitheatre, still used as a venue today, or the Roman Pyramid that stands 20 metres high. Be sure to visit some of the other sights of Vienne too with the Romanesque Gothic Saint- Maurice Cathedral.

Today the most direct way is to continue south on the A7 along the Rhone Valley towards Avignon and then taking the A9 passing Montpellier, Narbonne and Perpignan. A longer option for the outward journey is to head into the Auvergne and the volcanic heart of France, south crossing the river Lot and over the magnificent Millau viaduct, designed by Norman Foster. After passing through the Hérault vineyards, you join the A9 north of Narbonne. From Perpignan, you turn west and head into the wooded hills and valleys of the foothills of the Pyrenees. Time to check-in to your hotel and relax.

You have six whole days to relax and explore both at your hotel and in the immediate area. Your base on this self-drive holiday to French Catalonia is the spa town of Molitg-les-Bains in the foothills of the Pyrenees and facing Mount Canigou, a mountain revered by the Catalans for centuries. You stay amid lush greenery, tree-clad slopes, orchards and panoramic mountain views in a landscape ripe with hiking opportunities. There are plenty of walks from 90 minutes to 3 hours with an elevation of between 150m to 400 m, or up to 6-hour walks with an elevation of up to 750m. If you want, local guides can be hired to accompany you. Just over an hour’s drive is the attractive Vermillion Coast on the Mediterranean and the towns and harbours of Collioure, Port-Vendres and Banyuls-sur-Mer. About an hour’s drive to the north you reach Maury and the Corbières wine region, and just beyond that you’re in Cathar country with its eerie, ruined fortresses that dominate the skyline. Molitg-les-Bains hosts a variety of festivals through the year and in nearby Villefranche-de-Conflent you’ll find a mediaeval centre fortified by Vauban and now designated one of the most beautiful villages of France.

Drive northwards today and given the long drive, we recommend staying on the A9 and A7 along the Rhone valley until you reach Burgundy once more, and this time the famous village of Puligny-Montrachet, at the heart of the Cote de Beaune.

It’s a drive of under four hours today, so depending upon your interests, you can linger in Puligny-Montrachet, perhaps visiting renowned wine cellars or you can make your way straight to Epernay and visit the Champagne houses here before checking in to your hotel for the night.

Depending on the time of your Eurotunnel crossing from Calais to Folkestone, you may want to visit more Champagne houses of Epernay and Reims. We can give you suggestions of Champagne houses to visit. Laon is an historic town perched on a hill-top visible from the autoroute that you also might want to call in at on the way back to Calais.

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,140 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD17

Luxury self-drive holiday to French Catalonia with overnight stops in Burgundy, Rhone Valley and Champagne

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,140 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD17

Our prices include ● Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais return for car and passengers
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Tradition room at the Chateau de Gilly, Burgundy
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic room at the Hotel la Pyramide, Vienne
● 7 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Cottage garden room at the Chateau de Riell, Molitg-les-Bains
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic room at Le Montrachet, Burgundy
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic room at Hostellerie La Briqueterie in Epernay, Champagne
● 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

Additional information Driving times for this self-drive holiday
Calais to Gilly-les-Citeaux 6 hours
Gilly-les-Citeaux to Vienne 3 hours
Vienne to Molitg-les-Bains 5 hours
Molitg-les-Bains to Montrachet 6 hrs 15 mins
Montrachet to Epernay 3 hrs 20 mins
Epernay to Calais 3 hours

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,140 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room.

Holiday Code FRSD17

Luxury self-drive holiday to French Catalonia with overnight stops in Burgundy, Rhone Valley and Champagne

Highlights of Burgundy

Cultural highlights include Burgundy wines and marcs, local wine festivals, the Beaujolais vineyards, and the Romanesque architecture.

Climate of Burgundy

Average air temperatures in centigrade: Jan: 6.1, Feb: 5.9, Mar: 10.3, Apr: 15.3, May: 15.8, Jun: 23.8, Jul: 25.8, Aug: 26.1, Sep: 21.2, Oct: 15.5, Nov: 9.1, Dec: 6.2. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France.

Luxury self-drive holiday to French Catalonia with overnight stops in Burgundy, Rhone Valley and Champagne

Highlights of Champagne

Champagne cellar visits in Reims, Epernay and in vineyards along the Aube; the old town of Charleville Mezieres, capital of the Ardennes department; Charles de Gaulle's country residence and burial site, Colombey les Deux Eglises; Reims, with one of the finest medieval cathedrals in France, once the coronation place of French kings, now with one of the best son-et-lumieres in France; Reims' magnificent Roman triumphal arch; Lac du Der, the biggest reservoir in Europe, one of the most important migration routes for Europe's waterfowl, sheltering vast flocks of cranes, passing through in their thousands in spring and autumn; the fortified hill town of Langres, ‘Carcassonne of the North’ - minus the crowds; la foret d'Orient near Troyes and Montagne de Reims, both Regional Natural Parks; river trips along the Seine, the Marne, and the Aube; the 13th century gothic cathedral of Troyes, with its spectacular stained glass windows; autumn wine festivals.

Travel around the Champagne region

The Champagne region is reached very easily from the UK by air and rail. With the most extensive rail network in Western Europe, France is a great country to explore by train. The nationally owned SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer) runs fast, efficient services between the main towns. Buses cover the rural areas, but services can be rather sporadic, with departures often at awkward times. To visit Champagne's cellars - the main reason for being here - by far the best option is to rent a car.

Luxury self-drive holiday to French Catalonia with overnight stops in Burgundy, Rhone Valley and Champagne

Highlights of Languedoc-Roussillon

Sample the earliest cherries in France and other seasonal fruit. Take a visit to see the local ceramics and paintings, travel on the narrow-gauge railway from Villefranche de Conflent to Font Romeu. There are Folklore and music festivals in August. Gastronomy Sample anchovies, macaroons, Rousquilles aniseed biscuits. Local wines include Banyuls and Rivesaltes wines and Cotes de Roussillon wine. This is one of the most highly-regarded new wine regions of France.

Climate of Languedoc-Roussillon

Average air temperatures in Centigrade: Jan: 12.4, Feb: 11.5, Mar: 12.5, Apr: 17.6, May: 20.1, Jun: 26.5, Jul: 28.4, Aug: 28.1, Sep: 26.1, Oct: 21.1, Nov: 15.8, Dec :13.5. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France

Luxury self-drive holiday to French Catalonia with overnight stops in Burgundy, Rhone Valley and Champagne

Highlights of the Rhone Valley

Cultural highlights include the Beaujolais vineyards, the Gastronomic centre of the city of Lyon, vineyards of the southern Rhone valley, jazz festivals, olive festivals, and the International shoe museum at Romans.

Rhone Valley Climate

Average air temperature in Centigrade: Jan: 12.4, Feb: 11.5, Mar: 12.5, Apr: 17.6, May: 20.1, Jun: 26.5, Jul: 28.4, Aug: 28.1, Sep: 26.1, Oct: 21.1, Nov: 15.8, Dec: 13.5. Source: Direction de la Meteorologique de France

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