Explore two of France’s loveliest cities, both UNESCO World Heritage sites: Bordeaux & Saint-Émilion. Sample the region’s finest wines at legendary Châteaux, such as Margaux, Mouton Rothschild and Angélus. Visit Cité du Vin (City of Wine), the extraordinary, ultra-modern museum dedicated to every aspect of viticulture. Marvel at the centuries-old Église Monolithe (Monolithic Church) of Saint-Émilion.

Dine on exquisite regional cuisine and pick up a few culinary tips in cooking classes. Along the way, we will personally drive you to each Château, village and appointment, as we share our knowledge of the wines and history of the region. From winemaking techniques, the role of the Dordogne River, to local barrel-making — we’ll cover all the things that have made Bordeaux the most famous wine area in the world.

Day 1
Fly into Bordeaux or take the TGV (Fast Train) from Paris. We will pick you up and drive to your hotel. Once you’re settled in, we’ll guide you through the city of Bordeaux. Often referred to as “Little Paris” this UNESCO World Heritage Site has beautiful 18th century architecture and Europe’s largest pedestrian shopping boulevard, where you’ll find wonderful boutiques! That evening, we’ll dine at one of the city’s top restaurants.

Old entry to the city of Bordeaux.

The five-star Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux. Photos by Marla Norman.

Day 2
We head to the Left Bank, home to some of the world’s most prestigious wineries. We begin in Saint-Estèphe and Pauillac, where we’ll see the top Châteaux. Past visits have included Montrose, Lynch-Bages, Pontet Canet, Mouton Rothschild and Cos d’Estournel.

Drs. Melvin Oakley & Dwight Oldham, on a recent visit to Cos d’Estournel.

Château Montrose

Alfred Tesseron, owner of Pontet Canet, and Michel Thibault.

Because of our relationships with these outstanding wineries, you will have entry into First Growths, Second Growths and other exclusive estates. During these visits, you’ll see the inner workings of the Châteaux, sample the wine and meet the staff — possibly the winemakers themselves.

We’ll take a lunch break at Le Saint-Julien, one of the Left Bank’s leading restaurants, with elegant interiors and exceptionally refined food.

Claude Broussard – Le Saint-Julien

Tanguy Laviale – Garopapilles

Gordon Ramsay – Le Pressoir d’Argent

Back in Bordeaux, we’ll continue to explore the city and enjoy another great dining experience that evening. Options might include the über-popular Garopapilles, where Chef Tanguy Laviale, who has degrees in viticulture and oenology, makes wine pairings an essential part of the menu, or celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsey’s Le Pressoir d’Argent.

Day 3
We resume our visits to the Left Bank in Saint-Julien and Margaux. Here the possible properties include the magnificent Château Margaux, Château Palmer or Chateau d’Issan, with its turrets and moats. All of the estates are stunning and instantly transport you back to another era. The wines of the Margaux appellation are also extraordinary and have received some of the highest ratings in Bordeaux for the past several vintages.

Château Margaux

Marla Norman admires Château d’Issan’s priceless antiques and elegant furnishings.

Château Palmer

Lunch will provide another opportunity to savor Bordelaise cuisine. At Le Lion d’Or, a favorite lunch spot for Médoc winemakers, the food is rustic, hearty and traditional. Our last night in Bordeaux city offers a chance to shop the boutiques along rue Sainte-Catherine, take an open-bus tour or visit the Cité du Vin.

Cité du Vin, ultra-modern museum dedicated to every aspect of viticulture.

Day 4
We begin our morning with a visit to Pessac-Léognan, where we will most likely visit Château Haut-Brion, Château Haut-Bailly or Château Pape Clément — all are superb. Somewhat under the radar, this appellation is also home to many prestigious wineries holding 100-point ratings.

Château Haut-Brion, owned by Prince Robert of Luxembourg.

Gabriel Vialard, Technical Manager at Château Haut-Bailly.

At Château Pape Clément, Michel Thibault and Marla Norman with Jean-Christophe Crouzet.

From Pessac-Léognan, we take a short, but scenic drive to charming Saint-Émilion — one of France’s most beloved and unspoiled medieval cities. Your hotel is located in the heart of the ancient village, so you can easily walk to all the major attractions. We’ll spend the afternoon climbing the massive Tour du Roy (King’s Tower), visiting the many wine shops or riding bikes if you prefer. You’ll enjoy an apéritif next to the old Église Monolithe that sits like a sentry, high atop the town, then dinner at one of the highly-rated restaurants in the city.

Saint-Émilion – UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of France’s most beloved and unspoiled medieval cities. Photo by Marla Norman.

Day 5
Our Right Bank tour begins with estates in the Saint-Émilion appellation. We’ll see renown Châteaux: Angélus, Cheval Blanc, Barde-Haut, Troplong Mondot or Tertre Roteboeuf. Here again, you’ll have a chance to walk the vineyards, sample the wine and meet the winemakers.

Château Angélus, a Classified First Growth winery, is named for the Mazerat Chapel bells.

François Mitjavile, owner of Château Tertre Roteboeuf.

Patrice Lévêque of Châteaux Barde-Haut, Clos L’Eglise and Poesia.

This evening, a special treat — we’ll learn a few French culinary secrets during a cooking class at Château Ambe Tour Pourret, a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru property. Afterwards, we’ll enjoy dinner accompanied by estate wines with the Château owners, Celine or Françoise Lannoye.

Dr. Melvin & Debra Oakley with Drs. Bobbi & Dwight Oldham at Château Ambe Tour Pourret. Proprietress Celine Lannoye is seated center.

 

Day 6
We complete our tour of the Right Bank with a visit to Pomerol — often called the Temple of Wine in Bordeaux. Visits will likely include Château Clinet, with superstar winemaker Ronan Laborde, and Château La Conseillante, where Marielle Cazaux produces some of the most sought-after wines in the region. And, of course we’ll stop for photos in front of the world-renown Château Petrus.

Pomerol – often referred to as the Temple of Wine in Bordeaux. Photos by Marla Norman.

Ronan Laborde – owner of Château Clinet.

Château La Conseillante winemaker, Marielle Cazaux, with Michel Thibault.

Lunch will be at the award-winning La Table de Catusseau, where you’ll enjoy a menu that is a savory blend of local Bordelaise dishes and Asian flavors. As a grand finale that evening, we’ll celebrate our new-found wine knowledge with a cocktail party at the home of a local winemaker!

Day 7
We will accompany you to the airport or train station to assist with your departure.

 

A FEW CHOICES

Premier Cru
This package features highly-rated hotels, restaurants, Châteaux visits, tastings, and — of course your guides — for the 7-Day Tour. In Bordeaux, the four-star Hôtel de Sèze offers comfortable rooms and top-service, while in Saint-Émilion, the stylish Hôtel Au Logis des Remparts, located in the heart of the village, provides great access to local attractions.

All car expenses are included as well: rental, tolls, parking & fuel. Additionally, Wi-Fi will be available in the car, so you can easily stay in touch with family or business associates.

Price: $19,500 for 3 couples

Grand Cru
The ultimate in luxury, our Grand Cru Package, features five-star hotels, and Michelin-star dining. Your accomodations in Bordeaux will be at the InterContinental Bordeaux – Le Grand Hotel. In Saint-Émilion, Hostellerie de Plaisance will provide you with the ultimate in pampering.

This package also provides dinners at two Michelin-star restaurants: Gordon Ramsey’s Le Pressoir d’Argent in Bordeaux and Les Belles Perdrix de Troplong-Mondot, in Saint-Émilion.

The total package includes the two five-star hotels, restaurants, Châteaux visits, tastings, and your guides. All car expenses are included: rental, tolls, parking & fuel. Additionally, Wi-Fi will be available in the car, so you can easily stay in touch with family or business associates.

Price: $25,500, for 3 couples

A FEW NOTES
1. Not included is wine during the restaurant meals plus any personal expenses.
2. The package prices are the same whether the group includes 4, 5 or 6 people, although adjustments can be made for hotels if the group is smaller.
3. A 50% deposit will be required 120 days before departure, with the balance due 30 days before the actual trip.
4. Changes in schedules, hotels or visits to Châteaux may result due to weather or other unforeseen occurrences. Comparable accomodations and/or properties will be arranged as necessary.

ADDITIONAL TOURS
If the tour you are interested in is already booked, please contact us for special availability or to make arrangements for 2019. We also offer tours to Champagne, Burgundy, Provence and Italy.

For more information on available tours, see our travel site: Travel Curious Often.

To book a tour call 850-687-1370 or write mthibaultwine@gmail.com.

 

Marla Norman & Michel Thibault
Owners, Michel Thibault Wine LLC