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Food & Wine: France through Bordeaux & the Loire Valley

11 days Food & Wine
France is the ultimate destination for food and wine lovers. 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 the Loire Valley’s château country.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Maximum tour group size: 28 travelers

Tour pace: You will walk for about 2 hours daily across moderately uneven terrain, including cobblestone streets and unpaved paths, with some steep stairs and hills.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

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, 1 cooking lesson

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Guided sightseeing and select entrance fees

Map of tour of France

Overnight Flight 1 night

Day 1: Travel day

Board your overnight flight to Toulouse today.

Toulouse 2 nights Hotel info

Day 2: Arrival in Toulouse

  Included meals: Dinner

Welcome to Toulouse, known as la ville rose (the Pink City), thanks to its grand red brick buildings. Meet your fellow travelers and Tour Director at a welcome dinner this evening.

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of Toulouse

  Included meals: Breakfast

Set out with a local guide for a walking tour of Toulouse.

• Explore the Place du Capitole, a square lined with grand government buildings

• Admire the city’s historic mansions and the Basilica of St. Sernin 

• Stroll through an outdoor market to browse fresh flowers (seasonal)

• Board the Maison de la Violette, a barge anchored on the Canal du Midi that celebrates all things violet

Enjoy a free afternoon in Toulouse or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Medieval Carcassonne: Castles & Cassoulet $99pp* Details

Carcassonne

Visit the UNESCO-recognized Cité of Carcassonne today with a local guide leading the way. You’ll walk through the citadel, where fortified city walls surround the castle, Gothic cathedral and medieval streets. After exploring the citadel, enjoy free time to visit Château Comtal, an impressive medieval castle, or explore the Bastide Saint-Louis and the banks of the Canal du Midi. Then, continue on to the town of Castelnaudary for dinner. Your meal includes the signature dish of cassoulet, a meat and white bean stew that originated in the town, and is served with pairings of local wines.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $109)

Bordeaux 2 nights Hotel info

Day 4: Sightseeing tour of Bordeaux

  Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Wine tasting

Continue on to Bordeaux for a guided sightseeing tour of its UNESCO-named historic district. 

• Stop at the Place des Quinconces, one of the largest city squares in Europe

• Drive along the Garonne River, stopping at Place de la Bourse

• Pass the lively hub of the Place de la Comédie and the Grand Théâtre

Later, enjoy a wine tasting in Pessac-Léognan, a wine growing area in the Graves region.

Day 5: Free day in Bordeaux

  Included meals: Breakfast

Spend a full free day in Bordeaux or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Arcachon Bay Cruise: Oysters & Wine Tasting $125pp* Details

Known as “le Bassin” to locals, Arcachon Bay is a nearly enclosed bay that offers visitors pristine water views. Hop aboard a boat and take a scenic cruise around the bay, passing Île aux Oiseaux, an island in the middle of the bay that’s known as the oyster capital of the world. Back on shore, enjoy an oyster tasting paired with a glass of white wine. Then, have lunch accompanied with wine in the town of Arcachon. Afterward, stop at the dramatic Dune du Pilat, Europe’s largest sand dune, which frames a portion of the bay.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $135)

Dordogne Valley 2 nights Hotel info

Day 6: Périgueux via Saint-Émilion & Bergerac

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Wine tastings

Pass by breathtaking countryside scenery en route to the hidden gem town of Périgueux, making two stops along the way. 

• Visit a vineyard estate in Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to tour the wine cellar and taste full-bodied, deep reds

• Outside of Bergerac,sample sweet white wines and foie gras, a gourmet specialty of the region

• Enter Château de Monbazillac, where you’ll discover how its residents lived during medieval times

Day 7: Sightseeing tour of Périgueux

  Included meals: Breakfast

With your Tour Director leading the way, take a walking tour of Périgueux. 

• Stroll this charming town’s quaint streets 

• View Roman and medieval architecture

• Stop by the outdoor markets where you can sample fresh produce, goat cheese, foie gras and truffles (seasonal)

Enjoy a free afternoon in the Dordogne Valley or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Rustic Dordogne Valley: Medieval Villages & Farms $59pp* 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.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $69)

Loire Valley 2 nights Hotel info

Day 8: The Loire Valley via the Cognac region

  Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Wine tasting

Set out for the Loire Valley, stopping en route in the elegant city of Jarnac to visit the iconic Courvoisier Distillery for a cognac tasting and dessert pairing.

Day 9: Châteaux country & cooking lesson

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Wine tasting, Cooking lesson

Make your way through château country to the heart of the Loire Valley for a full day of exploration. 

• Stroll through the stalls of an outdoor market to pick up regional specialties (weather dependent)

• Step inside the historic, extravagant Château de Chenonceau 

• Settle in for a picnic overlooking the picturesque castle and gorgeous grounds

• Visit a local vineyard to taste the region’s reds, whites and rosés and take a short walking tour 

• Try your hand at preparing local specialties during a cooking lesson led by professional chefs and enjoy the meal you create

Paris 1 night Hotel info

Day 10: Travel to Paris

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Make your way to Paris, where you’ll gather with your group for a farewell dinner.

Day 11: Departure

  Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home or extend your stay to continue exploring Paris.

Add Paris $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.

Paris 2 nights Hotel info

Day 11: Sightseeing tour of Paris

  Included meals: Breakfast

Spend some more time exploring the City of Light’s architecture, scenery and culinary delights—from artisanal cheeses to sweet macarons—on a guided tour. 

• Drive down the sycamore-lined Champs-Élysées in view of the Arc de Triomphe

• Pass the legendary Notre-Dame Cathedral, located on an island in the Seine River 

• See the Eiffel Tower, the Palais Garnier opera house and Place de la Concorde, the city’s grandest square

• Marvel at the eclectic and iconic architecture of the Louvre

• Take a culinary walk, stopping at local shops to taste typical French specialties

Day 12: Free day in Paris

  Included meals: Breakfast

Enjoy a free day in Paris or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Montmartre Wine Tasting & Dinner $125pp* Details

Start off your evening with a walk through Pigalle’s cabaret-lined streets, passing by Moulin Rouge on the way. Then, take a funicular ride to the top of Montmartre, the highest point of the city, and explore the lively area around the iconic Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Afterward, enjoy a French wine tasting led by a local expert and a delicious three-course dinner.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $135)

Day 13: Departure

  Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

How's the weather?

  • Bordeaux, France
  • Dordogne Valley
  • Amboise, France
  • Paris, France
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
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  • DEC

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.

See what our travelers say about this tour—all reviews are authentic and unedited.

Have you been on tour with us? Visit My Account to submit a review.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 11/5/2015

Number of Past Tours: 5

From: MA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Great tour

Our France tour; Food and Wine through Bordeaux and the Loire Valley was fantastic! Our tour director, Adoram, was terrific going out of his way to add to our enjoyment. He was able to add some sites not on the original itinerary and went out of his way to set us up with restaurants and local information. We were scheduled to travel to Paris the morning after the terrorist attacks but Adoram and Go Ahead responded extremely well to the changing situation. Although we did not make it into Paris the changes to the planned activities that were arranged on the fly made for a great memory even while thinking about the tragedy. Wine and food tasting in France by definition would be something to look forward to and the venues selected by Go Ahead were fantastic. Touring cities and towns not on the normal tourist destination lists as well as some that are was great. My wife and I enjoyed the small group of fellow travelers and would highly recommend this tour.

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1 / 2
 

Dear Howard, Welcome home, and thank you for telling us about your time on tour. We’re so happy to hear you had a positive experience, despite the tragedy in Paris. Like you, we were all saddened and shaken from the events of that night. Fortunately, we have an extremely knowledgeable, proactive, and strategic Emergency Services team who go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure our travelers are safe. We’re so glad you felt cared for and satisfied with the last minute itinerary changes. We’re also glad to learn that you enjoyed your Tour Director, Adoram. We’re very proud to work with such fantastic people! Again, thank you for taking the time to write this thoughtful review. We hope to welcome you on another Go Ahead tour soon!

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | December 31, 2015

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/5/2015

Number of Past Tours: 7

From: QC

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Christophe, Best Tour Director !!!

Un immense merci à Christophe H. de nous avoir fait découvrir une fantastique région de la France ! Un guide qui est un amoureux de son pays, qui connaît son histoire et ses secrets........ Son enthousiasme est contagieux........ L'extraordinaire excursion de la Baie d'Arcachon et des dunes de Pilat, ou tu m'a aider à réaliser un rêve ! Du Château Haut Brion à chez Plou, les visites de vignobles où tu as si bien traduit les connaissances de ses vignerons ! Tes petites attentions spéciales tout au long du voyage, les surprises...les extras et surtout, les fous rires ! Claude et moi retournons dans ta belle région l'an prochain et c'est grâce à toi, nous aimerions tellement que tu sois à nouveau notre guide ! Merci Go Ahead !

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 9/24/2015

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: WI

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Great time and tour

I was so impressed by the knowledge and history the Tour Director knew, he made it very fun and great learning experience. The food and wine were some of the best I have ever had. France will be one of my favorite places to go.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 9/7/2015

Number of Past Tours: 7

From: MO

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

What a great tour!

This is the second Food & Wine Tour that my husband and I have taken with Go Ahead and it was a wonderful experience. Our Tour Director, J-J, was great and we had ample opportunities to visit wineries, small farms, local open markets, as well as the lovely towns and cities of Southwest France and the Loire Valley...and of course to sample their wares. The cooking class was fun, especially since we had a small compatible group of 22 people, By the time we reached Paris for our return to the States, I was wishing we had a few more days to enjoy France. Getting there and back, in overcrowded and underserved flights, was no fun, but we realize Go Ahead has no control over that issue. Fortunately, the tour itself made up for that.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 9/10/2015

Number of Past Tours: 5

From: AZ

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Best Tour Director

Jean Jacque L. was delightful!!! His knowledge and humor made our trip most memorable!!! He was able to accommodate all of us no matter the age range. Next tour to France we will request to be with him for sure!!!

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5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 4/23/2015

Number of Past Tours: 18

From: OK

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Exceptional Food & Wine

I had the good fortune of being one of the travelers to experience this tour the first time it was offered. We were 24 travelers eager to experience all we could. To drink and eat our way thru Southern France. It far exceeded my expectations. I have told everyone about the tour and have met some great travel companions. We were 5 from Oklahoma who joined a happy group. Our guide Ronen was extraordinary. He was always willing to assist us and was always available for us. From the orientation meeting where we all shared travel ideas and our experiences, to the daily details, he was superb. Our hotels were great! My hotel in Perigueux had a great view of the wonderful cathedral! I loved the Paris hotel. It was very "American" and in a good location for the Metro. I thought the arrangement of the tour was well planned. We visited a small family winery first then to a large commercial winery. It was good we had the simple experience prior to the "big" winery experience. I particularly enjoyed the visit to Sarlat and the foie gras experience. I loved that!! Our dinner in a very small but wonderful restaurant in Perigueux was wonderful. Not only was the food presented exceptionally, but it was wonderful as well. What a great dinner. The tour was well planned to have the cooking class later into the tour, after we were able to make friends and get to know the other travelers. This made for a really fun experience plus a good meal! The trip to the oyster farm and sand dunes were enjoyable by all. The tour had so many good times, I cannot list all. Just ask me!! Having traveled with GoAhead many time, I was very pleased with this latest tour.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/4/2015

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: GA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Simply fantastic

This tour had a nice balance of history and culture(food and wine!) We learned a little about each area, and then we got to sample the local wine and food, all of which were delicious. There was more dry wine tastings than sweet, which is exactly what we wanted, but there were some good sweet wines paired with foie gras. On top of the regular tour, there were 3 perfect excursions. I highly recommend doing all three: Carcassone, Arcachon, and Sarlat. Because we did three excursions, we did not end up with a lot of "down time" in some cities, but honestly I think these were more time-worthy than just wandering around Toulouse and Bordeaux. Carcassone and Sarlat were so unique, and Arcachon was a relaxing day on the bay. Of course, one of the most pivotal parts of our excellent trip was our tour guide, Cristophe. He was so knowledgable about the history of all the areas, but also he was passionate about food and wine. Additionally, he made it a priority to get to know everyone in the group, and he kept us laughing the whole way. I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this tour! Can't wait to come back to France.

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5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 5/7/2015

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: CA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Excellent Tour/Best Tour Director

My just completed Food & Wine: France through Bordeaux & the Loire Valley tour was an enjoyable and excellent one to have taken. The relaxed pace with two night hotel stays enhanced the experience. The optional excursions were exquisite. Although I had previously visited some of the towns on my own, the value of having a competent and professional tour director made all the difference. As I had taken Food & Wine: France through Burgundy & Champagne in 2014 with complete enjoyment, I was pleased that the Bordeaux/Loire Valley food & wine tour was added for 2015. An added bonus for me was that Thierry Delahousse from 2014 would again be Tour Director for the 2015 tour.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 4/23/2015

Number of Past Tours: 5

From: AZ

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

eating and drinking through France

The trip was well planned and very organized. I would have liked some free town in villages that were on the tour during the time that the merchants were open. The add on adventures were worth the extra money. The food was lovely and the wonderful wineries were fun.