DAY 1: Sunday, May 19, 2024 DEPARTURE: OVERNIGHT FLIGHT
Friday May 19th, 2024 Departure from the U.S.A. for overnight flight to Bordeaux via Paris.
Airfare is not included but Celestial Voyagers can help you get the best airfare and schedule.
DAY 2: Monday, May 20, 2024 WELCOME TO BORDEAUX | Meals: D | Hotel TBD 4*
Transfer to hotel upon arrival at Bordeaux airport, or Bordeaux Gare Saint Jean. (not included). We can make these arrangements if you send us a copy of your airline or train tickets
Check-in for 3 nights at our centrally located hotel.
Afternoon introduction to Bordeaux, a cultural walking tour with an English speaking local guide.
Welcome dinner at a local restaurant serving typical Bordelaise cuisine.
DAY 3: Tuesday, May 21, 2024 ST. EMILION: TOUR, WINES & COOKING CLASS | Meals: B L | Hotel TBD 4*
Departure to the wine town of Saint Emilion. We‘ll visit the nearby “Château Ambe Tour Pourret” where they practice biologic (organic) agriculture. Meet one of the Chefs (Jerome Oillic or Quentin Novelle) for a hands-on cooking class. Enjoy your own cooking for lunch paired with wines of the Chateau.
In the afternoon visit the small town of St. Emilion and its famous church, the largest monolithic church in Europe carved into the earth in the 12th century. Afterwards, we’ll have time to explore St. Emilion, the perfect place to purchase superb wines and wine-related gifts.
Return to our hotel in Bordeaux
DAY 4: Wednesday, May 22, 2024 BORDEAUX MARKETS & LA CITÉ DU VIN | Meals: B L | Hotel TBD 4*
Our guide meets us at the hotel to visit the city’s largest local market, “Le Marche des Capucins”, the belly of Bordeaux where people have been buying food for centuries.
Then, like a true “Bordelais” we’ll take the tram to go and visit Les Halles de Bacalan, the newest covered market which opened in 2017. Here 23 artisan-producers offer a display of delicious local prepared foods and baked goods. We’ll meet Chef Frédéric Coiffé “Maître Cuisinier de France.” He will take us through “Les Halles” and to his restaurant where you will enjoy delicious food and wines in a pleasant and quiet garden with the “retro chic” decor of old time sailors!
After lunch, we’ll visit “La Cite du Vin” (entrance tickets and audio guide) across the street. Walk or take the tram back to the hotel
DAY 5: Thursday, May 23, 2024 ARCACHON & BAYONNE: OYSTERS & CAVIAR | Meals: B L D | Hotel des Basses Pyranees 4*
Check-out and departure by minivan to SAS Caviar de France in Bigamos, a sturgeon farm where they produce caviar. Learn the history of caviar and farming and production methods. Finish the experience with a caviar tasting accompanied by wine.
We proceed to Gujan-Mestras, the capital of oyster farming, less than 7 miles away in the Bay of Arcachon. Also known as the Basin of Arcachon, this large tidal lagoon is an important center of oyster farming with more than 300 producers. We will learn about oyster cultivation and the fascinating story of the Basin. Afterwards, we will enjoy a simple oyster and shrimp lunch with wine while overlooking the bay.
We leave our driver from Bordeaux and board our minibus and continue to the charming seaside town of Arcachon to stroll around, visit the many boutiques, and perhaps find a café for a beverage. If time allows, we may take a ride on the Little Train to circle Arcachon and learn about its history (no advance reservation is available).
10 miles South is another surprise as we stop at the Dune du Pyla and take the time to climb the dune to discover a magnificent view of the Basin of Arcachon.
We continue driving south along the Atlantic Coast to the French Basque town of Bayonne. (115 miles /about 2 hours).
Arrival in Bayonne. Check in for 3 nights at the charming Hotel des Basses Pyrenees. Dinner nearby at Restaurant Sequence prepared by Chef Sebastien Grave, known to be a spontaneous, impetuous, and elegant cook who specializes in food with Basque roots and a modernist twist.
DAY 6: Friday, May 24, 2024 BIARRITZ & BAYONNE | Meals: B D | Hotel des Basses Pyranees 4*
After breakfast, we leave with our local guide for Biarritz, a town frequented by European royalty in the eighteenth century. Still very elegant and popular, this seaside town located in the Bay of Biscay attracts wealthy tourists who stay in its many luxury hotels. Our guided tour will end at the local covered market.
Lunch on our own near the market.
Return to Bayonne and learn about the local famous specialties: ham and chocolate. The famous “Jambon de Bayonne” has a long history; the process of using salt to dry cure legs of pork goes back for more than 1000 years in Bayonne.
Cooking class and dinner with a local Chef.
DAY 7: Saturday, May 25, 2024 FRENCH BASQUE COUNTRY VILLAGES | Meals: B D | Hotel des Basses Pyranees 4*
Enjoy a full day tour to the beautiful villages of the French Basque country.
Attend a private Jai Alai match, the typical sport of the Basque Country and known as “The world’s fastest game.”
After the match, continue to the towns of Sare and Ainhoa for a visit, then onto Espelette for lunch at the beautiful and historic restaurant Euskadi, a local favorite. The restaurant’s name refers to the local’s word for Basque Country.
In the afternoon, our guided visit of Espelette will include a tour of the “Atelier du Piment.” If it is not raining, we will begin in the pepper field followed by a presentation on the history, culture, and cultivation of the Espelette pepper. We end with a tasting of products derived from Espelette pepper. This is a great place to purchase gifts.
Our last stop is the village of La Bastide de Clairence, a member of the “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France Association.” We return to Bayonne for dinner on our own.
DAY 8: Sunday, May 26, 2023 SAN SEBASTIAN & BILBAO, SPAIN | Meals: B L | Hotel Miro 4*
Check-out and departure for San Sebastian, a 1-hour drive just over the French border in Spain. After a guided tour of San Sebastian, also known as Donostia, famous not only for its numerous Michelin starred restaurants (as of 2022, there were 8 with 16 stars altogether) but also as one of the best city-beaches in Europe.
After our tour, we will enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the top restaurants of San Sebastian for a tasting of its internationally renowned cuisine with perhaps a stroll through the town’s old quarter afterwards. We then continue to Bilbao (65 miles /1h ¼ drive), a city full of architecturally significant buildings.
Check-in at Hotel Miro for 2 nights, very close to the Guggenheim. Dinner is on our own.
DAY 9: Monday, May 27, 2024 ART & ARCHITECTURE IN BILBAO | Meals: B D | Hotel Miro 4*
The shimmering titanium Museo Guggenheim Bilbao is one of modern architecture's most iconic buildings. It sparked the city’s regeneration and placed Bilbao in the international art and tourism spotlight. Gehry designed the museum on a former industrial wasteland on the banks of the Ría del Nervión. The city’s historical industries of shipbuilding and fishing reflected Gehry’s own interests. The titanium fish scale-like tiles that sheathe most of the building are said to have been inspired by the architect’s childhood fascination with fish.
After the museum, we continue our tour walking along the Nervión River to arrive in the Old Quarter of Bilbao, named Casco Viejo. In this historical center of the city most streets are pedestrian only. We will combine our walking visit with a Pintxos tour for lunch, hoping from bar to bar for 6 pintxos and 3 drinks
After lunch, the rest of the afternoon on your own for shopping and leisure time and a return visit to the Guggenheim if desired.
Say goodbye to new friends at a farewell dinner in a carefully selected local restaurant.
Walk back to the hotel for our last night in Spain.
DAY 10: Tuesday, May 28, 2024 FAREWELL TO SPANISH BASQUE COUNTRY | Meals: B |
After breakfast, drive to the Bilbao Airport for flights home (or extend your stay in Spain or France--we can help).
INCLUDED ON THIS TOUR
- Eight night’s accommodation, double occupancy
- Daily breakfast at the hotels
- Welcome dinner (drinks not included)
- Three lunches (drinks not included) at restaurants and as part of cooking classes
- Five dinners including one petiscos meal (drinks not included for most meals)
- Bottled water on coach and with meals
- Coffee and tea with meals
- Expert commentary, culinary advice and background by Chef Aliza Green
- All culinary activities and excursions in the program.
- Two cooking classes, two food workshops, and two wine tastings
- English-speaking assistance for airport arrival and departure
- Professional English-speaking local guide for the visits in the program
- All entrance fees to museums and historic sites
- Luxury, private coach for transfers and excursions
- Daily city tax at the hotels
- VAT and Local taxes
NOT INCLUDED ON THIS TOUR
- Single room supplement
- International flights between US and Bordeaux and between Bilbao and the US for the return
- Beverages (other than bottled water, coffee and tea) with lunches and dinners
- Meals not mentioned in the program
- Gratuities to guides and drivers (we will help with suggested amounts)
- Trip cancellation and travel insurance (travel insurance is required)
- All passports must expire at least six months after the trip date so after November 28, 2024