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Food & Wine: France through Bordeaux & the Loire Valley

11 days Food & Wine Tours
France is the ultimate destination for food and wine lovers, and this adventure gives travelers a taste of the country’s renowned regions in the west. Taste the bold red wines of Bordeaux; the foie gras, cheese and decadent artisan offerings of the Dordogne Valley; and the reds, whites and rosés of Loire Valley’s châteaux country.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

Local cuisine with beer or wine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

Local cuisine with beer or wine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 9 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine, 4 wine tastings

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Guided sightseeing & select entrance fees

Overnight Flight1 night

Day 1

Your trip begins with a regularly scheduled overnight flight to Toulouse aboard an internationally recognized airline.

Toulouse2 nights Hotel info

Day 2

Included meals: Dinner

The first stop on your adventure is the charming city of Toulouse, known as “la ville rose” (the Pink City), thanks to its grand red brick buildings. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers at your welcome dinner

Day 3

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Maison de la Violette houseboat

Set out with a local guide and take a walking tour of Toulouse this morning. Explore the palatial Capitole building and square, admire the city’s historic mansions and the UNESCO-recognized Basilica of St. Sernin and browse fresh flowers at an outdoor market. Finish your tour aboard the Maison de la Violette, a barge anchored on the UNESCO-named Canal du Midi that celebrates all things violet, from chocolates and teas to beauty supplies. Continue exploring Toulouse during a free afternoon or join our optional excursion to medieval Carcassonne.

Optional Excursion - Medieval Carcassonne: Castles & Cassoulet $125*pp Details

Carcassonne is home to the quintessential medieval castle, Château Comtal. With a local guide leading the way, you’ll make your way around Carcassonne’s UNESCO-recognized citadel, where fortified city walls surround the castle, gothic cathedral and medieval streets. After exploring the castle, leave the citadel and visit the impressive Bastide and the banks of the Canal du Midi. Enjoy some free time before moving on to the town of Castelnaudary for dinner. Your meal includes the town’s signature dish of cassoulet, a meat and white bean stew that originated in the town, and is served with pairings of local wines.

Bordeaux2 nights Hotel info

Day 4

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Wine tasting

This morning, travel to Bordeaux, the wine capital of the world. Enjoy a wine tasting in Pessac-Léognan, a wine growing area in Bordeaux’s Graves region known for cabernet sauvignon, merlot and dry white wines. The vineyards in this area are considered the oldest in Bordeaux; during your tasting, learn about the region’s history of winemaking. Later, leave Bordeaux’s sprawling vineyards behind and head into the city of Bordeaux for a guided sightseeing tour of its UNESCO-named historic district. Highlights of your tour include the Place des Quinconces (one of the largest city squares in Europe), the intricately designed Bordeaux Cathedral, the lively hub of the Place de la Comédie and the Grand Theatre.

Day 5

Included meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a free day in Bordeaux or opt to join our optional excursion to the Bay of Arcachon.

Optional Excursion - Arcachon Bay Cruise: Oysters & Wine Tasting $115*pp Details

Known as “le Bassin” to locals, Arcachon Bay is a nearly enclosed bay that offers visitors pristine water views. Your first stop of the day is the dramatic Dune of Pilat, Europe’s largest sand dune, which frames a portion of the bay. Then, hop aboard a boat and take a scenic cruise around the bay. Disembark on Iles aux Oiseaux, an island in the middle of the bay that’s known as the oyster capital of the world. Visit an oyster farm (with a tasting, of course!) before taking to the seas again. Enjoy a wine tasting and light snack during your cruise back to the coast.

Dordogne Valley2 nights Hotel info

Day 6

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Wine Tastings

Pass by breathtaking countryside scenery on your way to Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to the city’s Romanesque churches and medieval ruins. The vineyards here produce fullbodied, deep red wines. Visit a vineyard estate to taste the revered wines for yourself and take a tour of the wine cellar and winery grounds. After free time in Saint-Émilion for lunch, make your way to Bergerac, a region in the foodie-adored Dordogne Valley known for sweet white wines. This afternoon’s wine tasting takes place in a spire-topped château and is followed by a sampling of foie gras, a gourmet specialty of the Dordogne region. Arrive in the nearby city of Périgueux and enjoy local flavors at an included dinner.

Day 7

Included meals: Breakfast

With your Tour Director leading the way, embark on a walking tour of Périgueux this morning. Off the radar of many travelers, this charming town is a true travel gem, home to Roman and medieval architecture, quaint streets and amazing food. After your tour of the historic sights, stop by the outdoor markets for some of the most delectable flavors of your trip, ranging from fresh produce and goat cheese to truffles and foie gras. Your afternoon is free to spend as you’d like. Consider joining our optional culinary tour to delve deeper into the epicurean heritage of the Dordogne Valley.

Optional Excursion - Rustic Dordogne Valley: Medieval Villages & Farms $69*pp Details

Delve deeper into the culinary expertise and medieval charm of the Dordogne Valley. Make your way through the picturesque countryside to the village of Pezuls to visit a goat farm and taste the best goat cheese imaginable. After free time for lunch in Sarlat, explore the city with a local guide, winding through tiny medieval streets and past well-preserved architecture. Your tour highlights the city’s artisan products and includes an aperitif and foie gras tasting. Depending on the season, you may get the chance to try other local specialties, such as the famous Perigord Black Truffles.

Loire Valley2 nights Hotel info

Day 8

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Courvoisier Distillery, Cognac tasting

Set out for the UNESCO-listed Loire Valley, a land of lavish castles, charming villages and mouthwatering cuisine. Stop en route in the elegant city of Jarnac to visit the iconic Courvoisier Distillery for a Cognac tasting and dessert pairing. Verdant and serene, the Cognac region is one of France’s best-kept secrets. Afterward, make your way through châteaux country to the heart of the Loire Valley.

Day 9

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Chenonceau Château, Cooking Lesson, Wine tasting

Spend a full day exploring the decadent charms of the Loire Valley, from the extravagant châteaux and historic fortresses to the rolling vineyards and artisan markets. Start your day with a pastry tasting at a local patisserie. Then, head to the market to pick up picnic supplies. Stroll through the outdoor stalls in Amboise and seek out the most delicious looking local specialties from the region’s farmers and cheesemongers. Drive through the countryside to the Chenonceau Château, where you’ll have a guided tour before sitting down for a picnic overlooking the picturesque castle moats and gorgeous grounds. After lunch, go to a nearby winery to taste the region’s reds, whites and rosés and enjoy a short walking tour of the vineyard trails and wine caves. Tonight, channel your inner chef and get ready for a night of culinary delights. Your group will take a cooking lesson led by local chefs to prepare your dinner for the evening. Sit back, sample local flavors and enjoy the fruits of your labor—served alongside a local Vouvray aperitif and then Chinon wine with your meal.

Paris1 night Hotel info

Day 10

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Bid farewell to the countryside and transfer to Paris. Gather with your group for your farewell dinner in the City of Light.

Day 11

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

If you’re not staying for the tour extension in Paris, a Go Ahead representative accompanies you to the airport for your return flight home.

Add Paris, 2 nights $449 pp

Please note: Extension is not available on all departure dates.

Paris: the city of life, love and light—not to mention food and wine. From the markets of Le Marais to the bistros of Montparnasse, you’ll find beauty, history and delicacies at every turn. So take a seat at a sidewalk cafe to watch the Parisians do their thing—and don’t forget to order something delicious.

Paris2 nights Hotel info

Day 11

Included meals: Breakfast

Get introduced to the sights and tastes of Paris this morning. A local guide gives a panoramic tour, taking you by the Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde and Notre-Dame for photo stops. Finish off your tour with a culinary walk through some of Paris’ foodie-favored neighborhoods, stopping at different shops and patisseries to sample specialties like chocolates, macarons and cheeses.

Day 12

Included meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a free day to explore Paris on your own or join our optional lunch and wine tasting in Montmartre.

Optional Excursion - Montmartre Lunch & Wine Tasting $109*pp Details

Take a funicular to the top of Montmartre, the highest point of the city. Here, take a look inside the iconic Sacré-Coeur Basilica, explore the artsy Montmartre district and enjoy panoramic views of Paris. Then, take the funicular back down and make your way through Pigalle’s cabaret-lined streets. End the excursion with a French wine tasting, led by a local expert, and a three-course lunch.

Day 13

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

A Go Ahead representative accompanies you to the airport for your return flight home.

How's the weather?

  • Bordeaux, France
  • Dordogne Valley
  • Amboise, France
  • Paris, France
Temperature Precipitation
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Passport & Visa Requirements

In order to enter France, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact the French consulate for your specific entry requirements.

Airport & Departure Taxes

All airport and departure taxes for this tour are included in the total trip cost printed on your invoice.

Baggage Allowance

Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you  choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs. Contact your  airline for detailed information regarding luggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note  that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other internal transfers, which may include train connections or flights. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height). Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.

Clothing & Packing Tips

We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember it’s preferable to avoid baring shoulders or legs when visiting churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).

Health

There are no major health risks associated with traveling to France. However, be sure to check with your doctor  or healthcare provider for the latest updates.

Cuisine

This tour travels through three of France’s renowned culinary regions. Bordeaux is the wine capital of the  world and is known for bold reds. Dordogne Valley is more off the beaten path for most travelers, but  foodies in the know consider it one of the premier destinations for France’s food scene. The region is known for rich specialties like truffles, goat cheese and especially foie gras. Known as the garden of France, the Loire Valley is full of farm-fresh produce, artisanal cheeses and renowned white wines.

Transportation

Round-trip flights arrive in Toulouse and depart from Paris. Included transportation is by private motor  coach. Most of the destinations on tour are best explored on foot, but in Paris you may want to take  advantage of the excellent transportation system. Paris’ massive Métro is world-class, easy to navigate  and efficient. Make sure to take time and look for the best deal on travel passes. Ask your Tour Director  which one might work best. Often the daily passes are not actually the best deal.

Electricity

France operates on the European standard 220 volts.

Time Zones

France is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). When it’s noon in New York, it’s 6pm in Paris.

Currency

The euro is the currency you’ll be using on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available  overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We  strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed. You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.

Tipping

At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend  tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.

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