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.
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.
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.
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 Restaurant Le Saint-Julien, one of the Left Bank’s leading restaurants, with charming interiors and exceptionally refined food.
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.
We resume our visits to the Left Bank in Saint-Julien and Margaux. Here the possible properties include the magnificent Château Margaux, Château Palmer, Chateau d’Issan or Château Giscours 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Ronan Laborde, Château La Conseillante, where Marielle Cazeaux produces some of the most sought-after wines in the region and Vieux Château Certan with legendary winemaker Alexandre Thienpont. And, of course we’ll stop for photos in front of the world-renown Château Petrus.
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!
We will accompany you to the airport or train station to assist with your departure.
Robert Hamilton: Anyone thinking about a trip to Bordeaux should rush to book with Michel & Marla. They will be thrilled with the five star treatment and experience. Everything was extremely well organized, thought out and executed, from transportation, hotels, vineyards to restaurant selections. Between Marla’s travel knowledge, excellent palate and Michael’s incredible wine knowledge and personal connection with the winemakers, we could not have asked for a better trip!
Leah Broussard Hayes: We traveled with Marla and Michel to the Bordeaux region of France last fall and were blown away by the trip. The term “trip of a lifetime” is so overused that I hate to invoke it, but I feel that is the only true way to describe this vacation experience. From access to first growth vineyards (not typically open to the public) to personal tasting, dining and shopping planning services and the best part – a chauffeur! – there is quite literally no way to recreate it. It is one we will look back on fondly for many years to come as we further expand our wine knowledge and cellar. A must do for any Francophile or wine lover!!
Michelle W. Reed: If we didn’t just have the “Trip of a Lifetime” I can’t imagine what one would consist of! Michel and Marla absolutely outdid yourselves in hosting us for a fabulous Bordeaux experience. Although the amazing pedigrees of the wines speak volumes about their planning, I have to say the personal elements they provided will stay with me and with John from now on — dinner and a personal tour with a winemaker, fun tapas evening and the cooking school were truly experiences that we could never have had without their kind and thoughtful arrangements. I am amazed now that I am home and writing my trip journal that we so royally welcomed in such “hallowed halls.”
Holden Hayes: A trip of two lifetimes! The wine, the food, and the countryside were spectacular and it has opened a whole new world for my wife and I. Did I mention how great the wine was?
Preston Gough: My wife and I spent a week with Michel and Marla in Provence. We took two special couples with us and it was one of the best trips we have ever done! Michel and Marla were fantastic hosts and really gave us a special firsthand look at this part of the French wine country. We sure hope to return again with them on a visit to one of the other regions.
This all-inclusive luxury package features highly-rated hotels and restaurants, Châteaux visits, tastings, and — of course your guides — for the 7-Day Tour. 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: $26,900, for 3 couples. Again, upgrades are not included.
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 to secure the date, 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 accommodations and/or properties will be arranged as necessary.
If the tour you are interested in is already booked, please contact us for special availability. 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 [email protected]
Marla Norman & Michel Thibault
Owners, Michel Thibault Wine & Travel Curious Often