A Southern France Luxury House Tour covering the areas
Aquataine, Occitaine and Provence.
With Bastide Towns, Perched Villages, Châteaus, Spectacular Countryside, Vineyards and many of the listed 'Most Beautiful Villages of France'.
April 6th - 21st, 2024
One of our favourite tours to conduct is our Tuscany House Tour. We love to spend day after day visiting hill towns, vineyards, olive groves and wandering through the spectacular Tuscan countryside. We wanted to offer something similar, but that would take in a slightly different flavour and feel and Southern France instantly came to mind.
This will be our first ever tour in France and we knew would would have to focus on a particular area as the country is quite large, so we finally settled on Aquataine, Occitanie and Provence. Even settling on just these regions meant that it would be impossible to cover the whole regions, so we chose our favourite places within them. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to make this one of our house tours where we take over an entire Château or Mas(traditional farmhouse), so we chose a Château in Aquataine and a Mas in Provence and created an itinerary that would allow us to take day trips from each of these amazing places.
Our days will be spent traveling through the French countryside visiting Bastide Towns(meaning it was founded by the French in the 13th century, at a time when the English ruled much of this part of France.) Perched Villages, thus named as they are perched on a hillside and several of the villages on the list of 'the most beautiful villages of France'. We will also take in a few castles, a few churches and a few vineyards. Although this is just a small part of France we could only put so much into the itinerary and could not fit in everything that we wanted to see and do. Even so, we think we come up with a wonderful itinerary to give you the best of these regions. Come join us on this amazing journey!
This tour is one of our special house tours where you stay in one location for a week and a second location for another week. You will be served breakfast each morning by the Scottish Dream Tours team and take in several Café's for lunch along with a few wine lunch experiences. In the evening we will do dinners in the house and also go out to a Bistros, Brasseries, Auberges and Restaurant along with a few nights on your own to explore the dining options.
We will partake in local delights such as: Soupe au Pistou which is pesto soup with white beans, green beans and tomatoes. Socca, a pancake made from chickpeas. Daube Provençale, a local beef stew cooked in a daubière, which is a heavy casserole pot. Salade Niçoise, which is prepared in different ways, but should always contain black olives, anchovies, long green beans, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and lettuce. Pan Bagnat, a sandwich that is made from bread called pain de Campagne with the ingredients of a Salade Niçoise and balsamic vinegar. Bouillabaisse, a local fish stew that originated in Marseille. Fougasse, a flatbread normally made with olives and anchovies, and sometimes topped with cheese. Tarte Tropézienne, a dessert that originated in St Tropez in the 1950s. Tapenade an apéritif spread made from olives, usually with capers, that is spread on large croutons. Calissons, a sugary sweet that come from the town of Aix-en-Provence made from sweet almonds ground to a paste and mixed with candied local melon and orange peel. The paste is spread onto a wafer and coated in icing. And Pissaladière - Pissala is an anchovy paste from the region that is used on mini pizzas called pissaladières.
This beautiful tour covers two spectacular regions of Southern France where you will relax in luxury accommodations and take in all the breathtaking beauty of the French Countryside along with Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Antibes, Saint-Tropez and Marseille. We have started the Tour in Nice and ended in Toulouse giving you the chance to come in early or stay a day extra to take in these lovely cities. Price includes 16 nights accommodation, 11 dinners, 10 lunches and breakfast each morning, all activities, sightseeing and entrance fees as listed in itinerary, all taxes, fees and service charges. Guided minibus travel with pick up and drop off and luggage handling.
As this tour is our first venture into France and also one of our house tours we ask that you please contact us before signing up for the tour.
$8995 per person.
$1295 single supplement.
$500 deposit to book your spot.
Pre tour - April 5th - Arrive into Nice Côte d'Azur Airport and make your way to our airport accommodation to get rested up and get adjusted to the time change before the tour starts the following morning.
Day 1 - April 6th - We will meet at our Nice Côte d'Azur Airport accommodation this morning and then begin our drive to Aix-en-Provence along the Mediteranean with a first stop in Antibes. The old town is very pleasant to explore, with a mass of narrow winding streets lined with pretty houses, designer shops and boutiques, and cafes and bars. The historic centre of Antibes is still surrounded by Vauban's Defensive Ramparts along with traditional fountains and small squares surrounded by ancient houses which provide much of the appeal of Antibes. There is a covered market in the centre of the town where you can buy all manner of fresh produce as well as hand crafted artisan item. From here we make our way to Saint-Tropez where we fist stop for lunch. No visit to this part of the Cote d'Azur would be complete without visiting the resort of Saint Tropez, one of the most well known resorts on the French Mediterranean. It is also one of the most picturesque, and has a lovely historic village to explore. After lunch we will wander into the old town where the streets of colourful houses have a unique charm. These streets lead back from the coast and towards the citadel, with the houses in the simple style of fisherman’s houses and painted in pale pastels ranging from pale cream to deep terracotta. We then make our way to just near Aix-en-Provence to get settled into our first week's accommodation before a Welcoming Dinner. Overnight Jouques near Aix-en-Provence. (B,L,D)
Day 2 - April 7th - This morning we visit Aix-en-Provence with its origins in ancient times when it was a Celtic capital, then becoming an important Roman town in the 2nd century BC. At the end of the 15th century Aix was the capital of Provence under the successful leadership of King René and several of the buildings and highlights of the town date from this period of prosperity. While here we will have a Discover the Charms of Aix-en-Provence Food and Sightseeing Tour. Over the course of 3 hours, you’ll walk the streets of this medieval city and learn about its rich history and culture. Visit sights like the Rotonde Fountain, Cours Mirabeau, Mazarin district, and more. Stop in local shops to sample delicious pastries, cheeses, and other treats, and tour an outdoor market bursting with fresh fish and produce. Then you will have some more itme on your own to further discovery this beautiful city. The main thoroughfare in the town centre, the Cours Mirabeau runs east to west through central Aix-en-Provence, and is lined on both sides with grand houses built during the 17th-18th centuries. You will find that the most imposing houses are on the southern side and most cafes and other activity on the northern side of Cours Mirabeau - and the trees that provide the shade for the cafes stop you seeing both sides together very easily, so you will need to allow time to walk the street in both directions. It's a lovely street (perhaps not quite the Champs-Elysées but certainly one of the most beautiful avenues in the south of France) so you will thoroughly enjoy it. Dinner on your own this evening. Overnight Jouques near Aix-en-Provence. (B,L)
Day 3 - April 8th - We will spend the next 2 days taking in the lovely towns and villages of Parc Naturel Régionals of Provence. We will start in the perched village(hill towns) of Bonnieux in the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon and sprawling attractively down the side of a hill. The town is composed of two sections, the lower and the upper. We will explore the lower part of the town, with its quiet narrow streets and arcaded passages running down to the bottom of the valley and stopping for lunch before exploring the upper town. Then we make our way to the perched village of Lourmarin, another on the list of the most beautiful villages of France with over 1000 years of history. With lots of narrow winding Provençal streets, many too narrow or too steep for cars to ever pass, meandering past centuries old houses it is truly delightful. Our final stop is Château Constantin is a family estate nestled between vineyards, forest and olive grove. A little corner of paradise at the gates of the famous village of Lourmarin, in the charming Luberon region. This 20 hectares organic property spans a variety of terroirs, red clay, limestone and rolled pebbles, which gives their wines complexity and freshness! We will have a lovely late afternoon of wine tasting and then we are back home again before dinner. Dinner and Overnight Jouques near Aix-en-Provence. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - April 9th - Our second day in Parc Naturel Régionals of Provence will start with the perched village of Roussillon. Roussillon has been inhabited since neolithic times, then later by the Romans who also left their traces and is also well known for being home to Samuel Beckett during the Second World War. This is lovely little Provencal Village with shady squares, fascinating architectural details, faded shutters, cats sleeping on windowsills. Next we visit Gordes, another of those listed among the most beautiful villages in France and one of the perched villages of Provence. This lovely traditional Provencal Village with narrow cobbled streets that wind ever higher through the tall, ancient houses to the church and castle that stand above the village has spectacular views across the Luberon Mountains. We will lunch here before continuing on Menerbes one more of the famous perched villages of Provence. This medieval village spread out along a hilltop in the centre of the Luberon region and in the Vaucluse Department of Provence is also listed as one of the most beautiful villages of France! We will find some dinner out in Lambesc before returning home. Overnight Jouques near Aix-en-Provence. (B,L,D)
Day 5 - April 10th - Much of today will be spent in Avignon, a historic town on the Rhone River. This beautifully preserved medieval town is surrounded by the original fortified city walls. Avignon. The central historical part of the city, including the Palace of the Popes, the Saint-Benezet Bridge, and the fortification walls that surround the city are now a protected UNESCO Heritage Site and Avignon is also listed as one of the French 'Secteur Sauvegardé'(historic towns of France). We will have a Walking Tour of the City and then a River Rhone Lunch Cruise. We will spend 2 hours navigating the waters at the foot of Avignon and Villeneuve-les-Avignon, with a delicious lunch on the Rhône. After our lunch cruise we return to the city for a tour of the Palace of the Popes. The Palace of the Popes stands as the mighty symbol of the church’s influence throughout the western Christian world in the 14th century. Construction was started in 1335 and completed in less than twenty years under the leadership of two builder popes, Benedict XII and his successor Clement VI. The Popes’ Palace is the biggest Gothic palace in all of Europe - the size of 4 Gothic Cathedrals Combined! We will visit over 20 rooms and see scenes of historic events, in particular the Pope’s Private Chambers and the frescoes painted by the Italian artist Matteo Giovannetti. We then return home before dinner. Dinner and Overnight Jouques near Aix-en-Provence. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - April 11th - Today will be spent in and around Mas De La Quietude, the 10 Bedroomed Authentic Pravencal Mas(traditional farmhouse) we are staying in which is set within 500 acres of grounds in La Provence Profonde in the middle of lavender fields and olive groves. This authentic mas combines high comfort with modernity along with sensational views of the Aix countryside and famous Sainte-Victoire mountain. Remodeled by a Belgian architect, this beautiful stone house of 6500 square feet combines high comfort, modernity and authenticity. Its 50 foot long swimming pool and its numerous shaded terraces also offer superb views over the Aix countryside and the Saint-Victoire mountain. This property is the ideal place for nature lovers looking for the gentle Provencal way of life and sunshine. We will have a lovely Wine, Canapé, Fruit and Salad Lunch on the terrace and then the rest of the afternoon is yours to explore the lavender fields, olive groves and whatever else you may find in the 500 acres that sourround the farmhouse. You may want to take a swim in the pool or just admire the views from poolside. In the evening we will make our way to a nearby village for you to find some dinner. Overnight Jouques near Aix-en-Provence. (B,L)
Day 7 - April 12th - This morning we make our long journey to the Lot-et-Garonne department of the Aquataine Region with an overnight stay along the way. Our first stop of the day is Arles, famous for two things, its Roman ruins and its association with Van Gogh, but while both play a large role in the history if the town it is worth visiting even without either of these highlights. The main star is the town itself with its open squares, bustling cafes and linked by narrow streets lined with attractive houses and shops. We will visit the Amphitheatre once used for gladiatorial competitions, with enough remaining of the original building to give you a good impression of what it would have been like 2000 years ago, sitting on the benches and watching the gladiatorial battles. Our next stop as we As we make our way along the Mediteranean Montpellier where we will have lunch. The focus of the city is around the beautiful Place de la Comedie and the adjoining large open, tree-lined areas of the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, and in the narrow streets of the old town to the north and west of these boulevards with a large part of the city centre being pedestrianized. After lunch we will explore the city centre before making our way northwest through the Parc Naturel Régional de l'Aubrac to get to our half way point accommodation near Albi. We will get settled in before dinner. Dinner and Overnight near Albi. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - April 13th - This morning we will explore Albi before making our way further northwest to our accommodation at Serres-et-Montguyard. Best known as the capital of the Tarn Department, the bustling medieval city of Albi is a fascinating and lovely city to explore. The origins of the city date back to pre-roman times although most of what can be seentoday dates from the medieval period with the Palais de la Barbie being built in the 13th century and the Cathedral constructed during the 14th and 15th century. The red-brick architecture, medieval buildings and views across the river in Albi combine to make it one of the most beautiful towns in France. Just by walking around the labyrinthine old town of 'La Vieil Albi', which is pedestrianised, you will see a whole variety of architecture and fascinating buildings with many of the medieval houses in the lovely red brick that is very famous in the region. We will also stop in Lauzerte in the Tarn-et-Garonne region of the Midi-Pyrénées. It is a lovely small Bastide Town, founded by the Count of Toulouse in 1241, that is set along the top of a small hill and now officially included among the 'most beautiful villages of France'. Upon arrival we will make our way to the attractive arcaded main square, the Place des Cornieres, in the centre of the village. This is one of the best preserved Bastide village centres in the region, with most of the houses in the local light stone and one in colombage. We then continue to our accommodation to get settled in before dinner. Dinner and Overnight Serres-et-Montguyard. (B,D)
Day 9 – April 14th - Today we visit more of the loveliest villages of France with a first stop in the quaint village of Villereal, founded in 1269 by Alphonse de Poitiers as a French Bastide Town, although the town was occupied by the English during most of the Hundred Years War. Although not on the official list it is well worth exploring with its large central square surrounded by medieval arcades and ancient houses, and a second square that contains the village church. with a stop just a short distance north to Monpazier, with the origins dating from the end of the 13th century when it was founded as a Bastide Town in 1284 by King Edward I of England. You will find several cafes here where you can find some lunch on your own and then explore the various shops selling arts and crafts. We then visit Château de Bonaguil, one of the most attractive castles in France. It is situated near Fumel, in northern Lot-et-Garonne, where it has been classified as a historic monument since 1862. The castle was originally constructed in the 13th century and was the last of the great fortified castles to be constructed in France, built in an impressive location on a high rocky spur between the Rivers Thèze and the Lémance. On our way home we will continue our drive through Lot-et-Garonne full of medieval villages, sunflower fields, quiet roads and small farms in gently rolling countryside. One of the 'best kept secrets' in France! Just before reaching home we will stop in Monflanquin, listed as one of the most beautiful villages of France in the northern part of the Lot-et-Garonne. It is a French Bastide Town, meaning it was founded by the French in the 13th century, at a time when the English ruled much of this part of France. Dinner and Overnight Serres-et-Montguyard. (B,D)
Day 10 – April 15th - This morning we make our way to the pretty village of Limeuil, officially classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France at the confluence of the two most important rivers in the region, the Dordogne and the Vézère. We will stroll along the river front, cross the road and pass through the old stone gateway into the historical old town. The village is still partly surrounded by its original fortified walls, and is a very lovely Dordogne village, with cobbled streets winding up the hill between honey-coloured houses with pretty little gardens. We next make our way to Château Feely near Saussignac, a village located in the east side of Bordeaux. Our experience includes a one-hour guided tour of the vineyard to understand in detail the organic and biodynamic viticulture and the local terroir. Afterwards, we will be introduced to 4 of their wines with food and wine pairings around a plate of organic and local cheeses, accompanied by a selection of organic and local breads, seasonal fruits and vegetables and organic chocolate, all in the form of a picnic. On the way home we stop in the market town of Castillonnes n the northern Lot-et-Garonne department of southwest France. It is one of the many small and attractive Bastide Towns in the region built under the orders of Alphonse de Poitiers. Castillonnes dates back to 1259 though before this there was already a castle here. We then make our way back home before a dinner outing. Dinner and Overnight Serres-et-Montguyard. (B,L,D)
Day 11 – April 16th - Today will be spent in and around Château Lacanaud where we are staying. This 18th Century Château is surrounded by beautiful, unspoilt countryside with vibrant vines and sunflowers and is just five minutes from the picturesque and popular Bastide town of Eymet. The serene grounds include formal gardens, multiple terraces, an enchanting lake and wonderful woodland walks. Showcasing a careful, curated and stylish restoration, the château boasts meticulous attention to detail throughout, complimented by beautiful, French furniture and its luxurious, chic home-away-from-home ambience. There is a formal Dining Room as well as a Drawing Room and more relaxed Living Room. The Coach House is linked to the Chateau and has stunning views over the lake complete with a beautiful Living Room which opens up to a Large Terrace and an Orangery. Nine ensuite bedrooms spread across the main château and neighbouring converted coach house. It is set in 20 acres of grounds including formal gardens with over ten dedicated terraces, lakes and woodland walks. You will have a packed lunch today that you can collect from the kitchen whenever the mood strikes. This afternoon you can lounge the rest of the day away basking in the glorious sunshine beside the heated saltwater infinity pool. You will be able to find some dinner later this evening if you feel peckish. Overnight Serres-et-Montguyard (B,L)
Day 12 – April 17th - This morning our first stop is Penne d'Agenais, a small village on the River Lot and a very pretty place to visit and was once a stopping point on one of the pilgrim paths to Santiago de Compostella. The village consisting of two part, the historic village, entered through one of the medieval gateways that pass through the ramparts that still surround Penne d'Agenais, and a grassy area on the hill above the village where you can see the basilica and the remains of an ancient castle. Our next stop is Villeneuve-sur-Lot, another historic Bastide Town. The town is very small, but you will see lots of attractive houses and buildings and a couple of 'arty' type shops and nicely located cafes to stop and enjoy the atmosphere. We then make our way to another of the most beautiful villages of France, Pujols where we will stop for you to find some lunch. We will enter the walled village through an archway called the Saint Nicholas. This stone arch brings you straight into the main square in Pujols, with the church to one side, a 19th century market hall, a bar and a couple of small galleries. We will enter the village through an archway called the Saint Nicholas. This stone arch brings you straight into the main square in Pujols, with the church to one side, a 19th century market hall, a bar and a couple of small galleries. You can follow the main street in either direction to enjoy looking at the ancient houses, often with hanging baskets of flowers, the small gardens and the views. Here on Rue Citadelle you can see several impressive houses from the 16th century. Our final stop is the Latour Marliac Waterlilly Garden, a stunning waterlily garden and nursery that has been in operation since 1875. Joseph Bory Latour Marliac developed a method of crossing a white waterlily, that was the only hardy waterlily of the time, with tropical and wild waterlilies from elsewhere in the world and creating a range of hardy waterlilies in a wide range of colours. Claude Monet ordered a large number of colourful waterlilies from Latour Marliac and made these famous in his waterlily paintings. Dinner and Overnight Serres-et-Montguyard. (B,D)
Day 13 – April 18th - The Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region of France along the River Dordogne is full of beautiful villages and we will try to do them justice! Our first stop is Domme, a very attractive Bastide town, founded in 1283 and situated in an exceptional hilltop location and of course one of the most beautiful villages of France. The town is entered by a large fortified gate at the bottom of the main street and it is unusual for a Bastide Town to retain its fortifications as Domme has done. The huge towers either side of the entrance called La Porte des Tours once served as prisons and you can still see the religious symbols scratched like graffiti on the walls by the Templar prisoners during the 14th century. The town of Sarlat-la-Canéda is situated in the heart of the Dordogne department, in the region referred to as the 'Perigord Noir'. There are more than 250 listed buildings in the old town, typically built in the 15th and 16th centuries. Sarlat is listed as a 'Secteur Sauvegardé' to restrict future development and the town is also officially listed as a 'Town of Art and History'. Our next stop is La Roque Gageac, one of the and also on the banks of the Dordogne River. Although only a small village, little more than a row of riverside houses squeezed between the Dordogne River to the front and sheltered below the overhanging cliffs behind, it is very picturesque. We then stop in Baynac-et-Cazenac, a very attractive village spread along the northern bank of the river, and then continues up the hill to the chateau perched above. Beynac is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France and we will enjoy lunch here before we stand in the same spot as Richard the Lionheart, and admire the surrounding scenery! Our last stop in this area is Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, also in the Dordogne Department and classified as one of the most beautiful villages of France and is home to the magnificent Chateau de Castelnaud. We will stop in Villereal for you to find some dinner on your own before we return home. Overnight Serres-et-Montguyard. (B,L)
Day 14 – April 19th - Today we will explore more of the lovely wee villages in the area as well as take a picnic lunch to have along the way. We first stop in the village of Laroque-Timbaut, a sleepy medieval centre dominated by its traditional market hall dating from the 12th century and an ancient clock tower - the Tour de l’Horloge and the Place de la Halle, a very tranquil spot to sit and admire the buildings and the view over the valley. We then make our way to Puymirol, a small town to the east of Agen and the oldest of the Bastide towns of Lot-et-Garonne, having been founded in 1246. We will enter the centre of the old village via the Porte de la Citadelle, one of the original entrances through the 13th century town defences and do a bit of exploring. Next we visit the Abbey Church of Saint-Pierre in Moissac dating from the early 12th Century. Reputed to be one of the most beautiful cloisters in the world, there are 76 marble columns. The remarkable cloisters later acted as a model for hundreds of churches elsewhere. We next visit Caudecoste, another pleasant 13th century Bastide town. The houses in Caudecoste are a mix of stone houses and half-timber houses and around the main square, the Place des Cornieres, many of the buildings have attractive arcades. We than make our way to Chateau du Frandat, an independent grower who controls every stage of the process, from looking after the vines to marketing the wines. They grow the grapes, pick them, make the wine, age it and bottle it at the property, and this is the product that they are proud to offer us. We will have a Tour and Tasting which includes tasting 3 different wines, 2 Flocs de Gascogne and 1 Armagnac. We then make our way back home before dinner. Dinner and Overnight Serres-et-Montguyard. (B,L,D)
Day 15 - April 20th - This morning we start our journey to Borxeaux for our last night together. Along the way we stop in Saint Macaire, a lovely village with rich heritage, the narrow streets, and beautiful old houses and monuments including Porte de la Benauge, the main gate to the old city whose historic center is surrounded by ramparts. We will also visit Place Mercadiou, the main square of the village which is surrounded by beautiful medieval houses. Our next stop is Saint Emilion, known all around the world for its splendid wine but it is also one of the most beautiful villages around Bordeaux. Important historical monuments can be found in abundance in this medieval town, some of which date back as far as the 11th and 12th centuries. One of the most famous monuments is the 11th-century Monolithic church, carved from a limestone cliff, it’s the largest underground church in Europe. Its picturesque center, densely filled with wine shops and fancy restaurants makes this the perfect stop for lunch. Next we make our way to Château Ambe for a Gourmet Wine and Chocolate Tour. Our guide will take us to the vineyard to discover or wine origins, then through the vinification room to have a clear presentation of all the different step for vinification and finally learn about ageing in the heart of the barrel cellar. After our tour we are ready for the tasting of three wines paired with three chocolates. We then make our way to our accommodation near Bordeaux Airport to get settled in before a Farewell Dinner. Dinner and Overnight near Bordeaux Airport. (B,D)
Day 16 - April 21st - This morning we are off to the Bordeaux Airport for the return home.