From the most elegant châteaux to the perfect glass of red wine, the luxuries of Southwest France invite you to indulge and enjoy the moment. On this customized Southwest of France Tour, you’ll visit the region’s highlights: sunny Toulouse, charming Provence, regal Biarritz and the beautiful Bordeaux wine country. Step back in time and into the scene of storybook castles, medieval villages, seaside resorts and the idyllic vineyards. You’ll enjoy guided France...
Welcome to France! Arrive in the “Pink City” of Toulouse
Begin your tour in the beautiful city of Toulouse, known as the “Ville Rose” (“Pink City”) because of its lovely reddish brick buildings. The city is an important urban and economic center of France yet still retains the charm of a small provincial town. You will be staying in the center of the city, at a luxurious hotel that occupies an elegant 1930s building. Located near the Place du Capitole, the hotel is within walking distance of many important historical sites such as the Basilique Saint-Sernin and the Musée des Augustins (the former Augustinian Monastery). The hotel offers comfortable contemporary-style rooms with all the modern amenities, including room service and free Wi-Fi access. After checking into your hotel and taking some time to freshen up, you can begin your discovery of the city.
Sightseeing at Your Leisure in Toulouse
This morning, enjoy a traditional French breakfast at your hotel. After breakfast, your guide will meet you at your hotel and lead you on a walking tour through the city. You’ll walk over to the impressive Mairie de Toulouse (City Hall) to admire its splendid neoclassical architecture. Then you’ll visit the exquisite Basilique Saint-Sernin, a church that was built in honor of a Christian martyr. An important stop on the medieval “Way of Saint James” pilgrimage, the basilica was built in the Romanesque style with five aisles (like many of the churches along the pilgrimage route), to accommodate the crowds of pilgrims.
You will also have a chance to see the Cathédrale Saint-Etienne, an incredibly immense Gothic church built in 1212. This cathedral inspired the design of other great churches around Paris. Another joy of Toulouse is simply wandering through the pleasant streets and public squares. Stop for coffee at an outdoor terrace to soak up the sun, and be sure to take time for leisurely meals. Toulouse is famous for its hearty country cuisine and especially cassoulet, a slow-cooked stew of beans, duck or goose confit, and sausage.
Relax in the Camargue Region by the Mediterranean Sea
After breakfast, you’ll travel through the rugged countryside of Provence until you reach the Mediterranean Sea. Your destination is Saint-Thibéry, a quiet little village surrounded by a natural reserve. Check into your luxurious hotel, once the residence of Antoine Saint-Exupery, the author of “Le Petit Prince.” Built in the 18th century, this château is a beautiful example of Italian Renaissance architecture. The spacious and elegant grounds feature a sunny patio, splendid terraces and lovely gardens with pleasant pathways — perfect for meditating in nature. The rooms are designed in a classic European style with delicate bedding, ornate wallpaper, and plush curtains, and most have beautiful views of the gardens.
Sunbathe by the Beach or Explore the Countryside
This morning, enjoy your breakfast on the château’s pleasant Mediterranean-style patio that is shaded by olive trees. Enjoy the slow pace of life in Provence, a region that follows the gentle rhythms of nature. In this idyllic rural location, you’ll enjoy two wonderful days of rest and relaxation. You can sunbathe on the terrace, take a dip in the pool or go for a stroll through the gardens. Outdoorsy travelers can take long hikes through the Camargue countryside, a beautiful and wild landscape where hawks and eagles fly high above the grain fields. The Camargue also has many charming towns that are worth exploring, just a short drive away from your hotel.
Excursion to Carcassonne and Travel to Biarritz
Today you’ll drive to one of the most interesting places in the Southwest France, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Carcassonne. This perfectly intact medieval walled city appears to be straight out of a fairytale. You can easily imagine knights in shining armor making their rounds. Take a virtual journey to the Middle Ages, as you explore this incredible fortified city. Carcassonne was renovated in the 19th century to replicate the authentic medieval look.
Your guided audio tour begins at the ancient walls. Notice how there are double rows of walls, designed for extra protection. The area inside the walls is known as “La Cité” (the City). You could spend an entire day wandering through this maze of narrow cobblestone streets, filled with charming cafés and boutiques. You can also visit two historical monuments that date back to the 12th century: the fortified Château Contal (Count’s Castle) and the Basilique Saint-Nazaire with its exquisite stained-glass windows. After exploring the city, enjoy a delicious lunch of regional specialties at one of Carcassonne’s traditional restaurants.
After your excursion to Carcassonne, you’ll head west toward the Atlantic Ocean until you reach Biarritz. An upscale seaside resort, Biarritz was a favorite holiday destination of England’s Royal Family in the 19th century. Biarritz became even more fashionable after the wife of Napoleon, the Empress Eugenie, built a summer palace here. She appreciated the elegant beachside setting and mild climate. Located in the Basque country, Biarritz also has a rich cultural heritage and fabulous cuisine. You will be staying at the five-star resort and hotel. Wonderfully located on prime beachfront property, the hotel offers breathtaking views of the Bay of Biscay. This stylish hotel is designed with inspiring pastel decor, expansive windows, and private terraces. It’s the ultimate in seaside relaxation and luxury.
Enjoy Beachside Luxury and Pampering in Biarritz
Enjoy a leisurely day in Biarritz. You’ll have plenty of time to relax by the beach and go for strolls along the pathways overlooking the ocean. You could also take a dip in the hotel’s large swimming pool, spectacularly located on a deck with panoramic views of the Bay of Biscay. Take advantage of the spa treatments (three per day) that are included with your stay. The hotel’s onsite spa offers “Thalassotherapy,” marine-based beauty treatments. These treatments are very popular in France as a way to reduce stress and improve health. The spa also offers hydro-massages and relaxing jet spray showers.
Spend the rest of the day exploring the city of Biarritz. You could take a short walk over to the Hotel du Palais, which was once the palace of Empress Eugenie. This hotel is famous for its Michelin-starred Villa Eugenie Restaurant. Gourmands should plan to have lunch or dinner here. In the elegant Belle Epoque dining room, you can indulge in the finest innovative Basque cuisine while watching the outdoor scene of waves breaking on the shore. Alternatively, you could take a short drive to one of the picturesque villages in the nearby Basque country. One popular destination is Ainhoa, a charming village with a fascinating history. Another famous village is Espelette, known for its “piments d’Espelette” (red peppers) used in Basque cooking.
Travel to Saint-Emilion in the Bordeaux Wine Country
This morning, you’ll take a two-hour drive from Biarritz to Bordeaux. Fondly known as the “Port of the Moon,” this elegant city is situated on a crescent moon-shaped bend of the Garonne River and is surrounded by beautiful vineyards of famous appellations. Because of its exceptional wealth of historical monuments, UNESCO declared Bordeaux a World Heritage City. Bordeaux has over 300 buildings classified as historical landmarks. You’ll have a chance to visit Bordeaux on your way to Saint-Émilion, and your guide will show you the highlights. Then continue to Saint-Émilion and check into your hotel. Situated amidst endless miles of vineyards, the hotel’s location provides the perfect starting point for exploring the renowned wineries of the region. Each room is lavishly decorated to make you feel like a guest in an old-fashioned French château. Enjoy a restful night’s sleep in the countryside and wake up to birds chirping in the gardens.
Guided Tour of Saint-Emilion and Wine-Tasting in the Medoc
Today you will experience two highlights of the Bordeaux region: a visit to the UNESCO village of Saint-Émilion and wine tasting in the Médoc. Begin your guided tour in the medieval village of Saint-Émilion, an exceptionally charming hilltop village in France. Your guide will take you on a walking tour through the town’s labyrinth of ancient cobblestone streets. From some of the highest points in Saint-Émilion, you can admire spectacular views of the Bordeaux countryside. Enjoy a pleasant stroll, pop into quaint boutiques and stop to relax in the public squares. Take in the lively village ambiance as you watch the locals go about their daily business.
After seeing the village of Saint-Émilion, you’ll tour two châteaux (prestigious wineries) that produce wines of the Saint-Émilion appellation. Enjoy a guided tour of the wineries along with a tasting of the renowned Saint-Émilion wines. Your guide will help you understand the characteristics of these deep-colored aromatic red wines, made primarily from Merlot grapes. You’ll learn about the complex rich, fruity flavors and the tannins that assist in the aging process. You will also have a chance to purchase various Saint-Émilion wines that will be ideal for drinking immediately as well as bottles that will improve with age.
Wine-Tasting at a Wine Center in the Medoc and Gourmet Lunch with Wine Pairing
Continue your wine-tasting experience in another of the famous Bordeaux wine regions, the Médoc. This famous wine region is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gironde Estuary, which contributes to its gravely mineral-rich soil, which is ideal for growing vines. The Médoc produces some of the world’s finest red wines, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot grapes. These distinctive full-bodied wines pair well with the proper food selection. Your guided tour includes a visit to La Winery, a contemporary center of wine appreciation. The property features the historic Château d’Arsac, surrounded by beautiful gardens and acres of vineyards. La Winery also has an enormous collection of fine Médoc wines, and you’ll have a chance to participate in a blind wine tasting. Then you’ll enjoy a three-course gourmet lunch at the center’s modern restaurant, which will allow you to sample the best wine and food pairings. After your visit, you may continue sightseeing in the Médoc. You could take a short drive along the Gironde Estuary to the charming villages of Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe that are well known for their wine appellations.
Tour Concludes with Departure from Bordeaux
It’s time to say, “Au Revoir!” The tour concludes today after breakfast at your hotel. Return your rental car to the Bordeaux airport in time for your flight back home.
- Guided sightseeing tour through the beautiful “Pink City” of Toulouse
- Stay at a charming Italian Renaissance-style château in sunny Provence
- Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the pristine Camargue nature reserve
- Leisure time to relax by the beach, swim in the pool or go for a hike
- Experience the upscale seaside resort of Biarritz and stay at a five-star luxury hotel
- Indulge in luxury spa treatments, gourmet meals, and beachside relaxation
- UNESCO World Heritage City of Bordeaux, famous for its wine heritage
- Private tours at prestigious wine châteaux in the Médoc and Saint-Émilion
- Learn about Bordeaux wines on your wine tours, including a blind wine tasting
- Visit a wine appreciation center on a spectacular property in the Médoc
Enter a world of luxury and culture in Southwest France. From medieval villages and picturesque vineyards to beautiful beaches, this diverse region is especially rich in tourist attractions. Your Southwest of France Tour begins in the bustling city of Toulouse, famous for its lively atmosphere and lovely red brick architecture. Next, travel into the heart of the Provençal countryside, where you’ll stay at a charming château near the Mediterranean Sea. Then continue the relaxation with a few indulgent days at a beachside resort in Biarritz. Rejuvenate yourself with seaside sunbathing, pampering spa treatments and gourmet dining. This region is well known for its hearty country cuisine.
Spend the last few days of the tour in France’s most famous wine country. You’ll have a chance to see the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bordeaux, which boasts over 300 historical monuments. Discover the world-renowned wine regions of the Médoc and Saint-Émilion, including a walking tour through the UNESCO medieval village of Saint-Émilion. Delight in the beautiful scenery on your way to visit several acclaimed wineries, where you’ll be treated to tastings of exceptional wines. You’ll participate in a blind wine tasting as well as a gourmet food and wine pairing experience. Throughout the vacation, you’ll enjoy luxurious accommodations and dine at the finest restaurants. Consider reading some of our travelers' France travel reviews to discover new ideas and further perfect your ideal France trip of a lifetime.
$5,995 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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