DAY 1: Friday, March 18, 2022 DEPARTURE: OVERNIGHT FLIGHT
Departure from the US 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: Saturday, March 19, 2022 WELCOME TO BORDEAUX & BASQUE FRANCE | Meals: D | Hotel Mercure Bordeaux Centre Ville
After your arrival in Bordeaux and transfer to your hotel, meet for a short, guided walking tour as an introduction to Bordeaux, “the Sleeping Beauty,” and one of the most fascinating of French towns. This city of art and history and home to one of Europe’s largest collections of 18th Century architecture was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Discover an impressive group of architectural masterpieces that include the neoclassical Grand Theater, the Golden Triangle district, and the Rohan Palace.
In the evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner of typical Bordelaise food.
DAY 3: Sunday, March 20, 2022 LES HALLES DE BACALAN & LA CITÉ DU VIN | Meals: B L | Hotel Mercure Bordeaux Centre Ville 4*
In the morning, ride the tram as the locals do to Les Halles de Bacalan, to meet Chef Frederic Coiffe and visit the market where we will sample local products. We then walk to the Bar de La Marine for our Bordelaise lunch.
After lunch, explore La Cité du Vin for a unique experience learning about wine through time and space. At the Belvedere, gaze upon a 360° view of Bordeaux while sipping wine.
In the afternoon, see the Place de la Bourse with its sculptured décor and water mirror that celebrates the close connection between the city and the Garonne River. Construction of the square took more than 25 years and is directly modeled on Versailles. See the Louis XVI-style Rohan Palace with one of the most beautiful staircases in France and the Bordeaux Town Hall since 1835. On to the Golden Triangle, where three large streets form a triangle, each ending in a square, the area where the wealthiest lived and the most luxurious shops were located.
See the neoclassical Grand Theater with its 12 Corinthian columns above which stand statues of nine muses and three goddesses of classical mythology.
Have dinner or a bite and a glass or two or wine on your own.
DAY 4: Monday, October 24, 2022 | EXPLORE ROMAN PROVENCE | Meals: B L | Hotel Mercure Pont d'Avignon 4*
In the morning, travel to nearby St. Emilion to Château Ambe Tour Pourret for a winery visit and a cooking course with lunch featuring seasonal regional products accompanied by the wines of the Lannoye family made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes at this organic winery. End the meal with typical macarons of Saint-Emilion.
In the afternoon, discover the magic of the unique town of Saint Emilion founded by Emilian, a Benedictine monk who was born in Brittany in the 8th century to a modest family. In later life, he dug out a cave and dedicated his life to God. The place where he lived and performed his miracles and good works became known as Saint Emilion. We’ll have a private tour of the most famous monument of Saint Emilion, the underground monolithic church carved out of solid rock. Afterwards, stroll about through the wonderful small streets of Saint Emilion.
Back to your hotel in Bordeaux for dinner or a glass of wine and a snack on your own.
DAY 5: Tuesday, March 22, 2022 ARCACHON & BAYONNE: OYSTERS & CAVIAR | Meals: B D | Hotel Villa Koegui Bayonne 4*
This morning, start with a visit to a sturgeon farm for a caviar tasting. In the 19th century, sturgeon abounded in the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers. At the beginning of the 20th century, Russian emigrants arrived and explained to the local fishermen that it was more profitable to fish sturgeon for its eggs and taught them the secrets of caviar production.
We arrive at the Bay of Arcachon and stop at a local oyster shed. Here, enjoy oysters like the "little follies" "grains of madness" or “pure follies" accompanied by white wine or organic rosé. Other local delicacies include shrimp, bulots, periwinkles and pâté Accoceberry from the Basque Country.
Check in at your hotel in Bayonne and join the group for dinner at a local restaurant in Bayonne, in the heart of French Basque country.
DAY 6: Wednesday, March 23, 2022 BIARRITZ & BAYONNE: CHARCUTERIE & CHOCOLATE | Meals: B D | Hotel Villa Koegui Bayonne 4*
This morning, participate in a guided walking tour of Biarritz and the les Halles fish market. Originally a small fishing village, Biarritz gained its world-renown in 1854 when Empress Eugenie built a palace that is today the Hôtel du Palais, attracting royalty like Queen Victoria and Alfonso XIII of Spain. It became even more famous when Charlie Chaplin and Coco Chanel began to live in Biarritz.
In the afternoon, visit nearby Bayonne for an insight into the culture, folklore and gastronomy of the Basque country. Enclosed within three lines of ramparts, the old town is characterized by narrow buildings, oxblood-red half-timbered façades, and narrow streets, many of them for pedestrians only.
By the 19th century, Bayonne had become the French capital of chocolate. Its chocolate history owes its origins to the Spanish and Portuguese Jews who fled the Inquisition in the late 16th century and found refuge across the border in Bayonne.
Visit the Atelier de Chocolate for a chocolate workshop followed by a tasting and a chance to savor chocolates from Haiti and Madagascar and elsewhere in the tropics.
DAY 7: Thursday, March 24, 2022 FRENCH BASQUE COUNTRY VILLAGES | Meals: B D | Hotel Villa Koegui Bayonne 4*
In the morning, depart for the villages of the Basque Country. Visit traditional Basque villages like Ainhoa, Sare and Espelette that have kept their authenticity through time.
Discover the famous Piment d'Espelette, the signature spice of the Basque Country, brought there from South America in the 16th century. Local women growers pampered, evaluated and selected the fruits of this plant through the centuries to develop its strength, plump shape, and brilliant color. Visit an Espelette farm for a talk, tasting and a workshop where you will prepare your own pinxtos.
Dinner at Les Rosiers in Biarritz (1* Michelin) located in a quiet city house. The head chef, Andrée Rosiers, is the first woman to receive the title « Meilleurs Ouvriers de France” in 2007. She and her husband and fellow chef, Stéphane, create a welcoming atmosphere to share their love of gastronomy based on Basque roots prepared in a refined style.
DAY 8: Friday, March 25, 2022 SAN SEBASTIAN & BILBAO, SPAIN | Meals: B L | NH Collection Villa de Bilbao 4*
Transfer to San Sebastian across the border in Spain, in Spanish Basque Country, which is renowned worldwide for the excellence of its cuisine.
Start your day with a market visit followed by a completely hands-on cooking class featuring the dishes from the cuisine of San Sebastian’s storied Michelin-starred restaurants. The class takes place at the historic Hotel Maria Christina. Your teachers will be the expert chefs of Mimo Bite the Experience. During the class, you will learn the secrets of the most modern culinary techniques and how to recreate them at home. After the class, indulge in the gourmet lunch that you have prepared - just like a pro - accompanied by wine.
In the afternoon, transfer from San Sebastian to Bilbao and check in to your hotel.
DAY 9: Saturday, March 26, 2022 A DAY OF ART & FOOD IN BILBAO | Meals: B D | NH Collection Villa de Bilbao 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, part of Bilbao’s wretched and decaying warehouse district 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 your visit of the Guggenheim participate in a guided walking tour to discover the history of Bilbao and learn about the city’s gastronomy, culture, architecture, and traditions while you explore the streets. During you walking tour, stop at different places to taste local pinxtos, the Basque version of Spanish Tapas.
Say goodbye to new friends at a Farewell Dinner in a carefully selected local restaurant.
DAY 10: Sunday, March 27. 2022 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 September 18, 2022
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