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  • Self-drive touring holiday of the Chateaux and Manor Houses of the Dordogne

    Auberge de la Source

    Auberge de la Source

    Chateau de Noirieux

    Chateau de Noirieux

    Chateau des Vigiers

    Chateau des Vigiers, Restaurant

    Chateau de la Bourdaisiere

    Chateau de la Bourdaisiere

    Hotel de l'Univers

    Hotel de L'Univers

    Self-drive touring holiday of the Chateaux and Manor Houses of the Dordogne Valley

    9 nights and 10 days
    On route to Dordogne, drive through the diverse landscapes of Normandy, the Loire Valley, and Pas de Calais, before exploring the many châteaux and manor houses that await in the Valley itself. This is an inspirational touring holiday that offers extremely comfortable accommodation in ever-favourite places, just slightly off the beaten track.

    Click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested French touring holidays.

    After travelling through the Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais, head for the pretty fields and thatched farms of Normandy. Your first port of call is the charming Auberge de la Source near Honfleur. From here, drive in a southerly direction to the meandering Loire, where you can admire the undulating countryside of the hunting grounds of the Kings of France. Pass, and perhaps stop off at, the lace-making towns of Alençon and Le Mans. After an overnight stay just outside historic Angers at the Château de Noirieux, continue through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Loire Valley, towards the Dordogne. Your next hotel, the Château des Vigiers, is an idyllic pastoral getaway with extensive leisure facilities set amidst its own vineyards on the prestigious Route des Vins between Bordeaux and Bergerac. Perfectly situated for exploring the abundant wineries around Bordeaux and Saint-Émilion to the west, and the copious cultural treasures towards the east, you have plenty of time to really get under the skin of the Dordogne as you stay for five nights. The next step entails a return drive northwards, with a one night stopover at Château de la Bourdaisière in the heart of the Loire’s châteaux country. Your final stop is at Hôtel de l’Univers in the delightful town of Arras. Just a stone’s throw from Calais, your ferry return will be easily accessible on your final day on this lovely tour.

    Prices for this self-drive tour from £1280 per person

    What's included:
    • One night’s bed and breakfast at Auberge de la Source near Honfleur
    • One night’s bed and breakfast at Château de Noirieux near Angers in the Loire Valley
    • Five nights’ bed and breakfast at Château des Vigiers in Monestier in the Dordogne
    • One night’s bed and breakfast at Château de la Bourdaisière in the Loire Valley
    • One night’s bed and breakfast at Hôtel de l’Univers in Arras
    • Eurotunnel return crossing from Folkestone to Calais

    Chateaux and Manor Houses of the Dordogne Valley

    Day-by-Day Itinerary

    Arrive in Calais and drive to Honfleur

    Arrive in Calais through the Eurotunnel and drive south to the Auberge de la Source hotel near Honfleur. Spend the evening relaxing under the oak beams of this old-style French farmhouse, and take in the immaculate and beautiful gardens that make this intimate hotel such an idyllic country retreat. Eat dinner beside the burning fire in the restaurant, before retiring to your suite.

    Drive from Honfleur to the Château de Noirieaux in the Loire Valley

    Before leaving the hotel in Honfleur, be sure to explore every rustic feature of this intriguing building. Take a trip into Honfleur, before heading on to Angers, to see the tall colourful French townhouses that line the harbour. Drive South through the Parc Naturel Régional de Normandie-Maine and agricultural farmland of central France to Angers in the Loire Valley. The Château de Noirieux is a grand converted French château, complete with high ceilings and elegant furnishings. During the day, you may choose to visit one of the many other châteaux in the area, such as the Château de Serrant or the Château de Brissac, home of the 13th Duke of Brissac. Exploration of Château de Brissac will reveal a beautiful collection of ancient paintings, a unique private theatre dedicated to opera by the duchess in the late 19th Century, and an opportunity to taste the wines produced on the estate in the château’s wine cellar. At the heart of the community in Angers is the Castle of Angers, with its beautifully landscaped gardens and sensational views, and, of course, the Apocalypse Tapestry. In the nearby city of Nantes, sits the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, another site not to be missed. Its combination of 15th century, 17th century, and Renaissance architecture mean it is possible to trace the development of this enormous château and get a real idea of its history.

    Drive to Monestier in the Dordogne and stay for five nights

    Your hotel for the next five nights, the Château des Vigiers, is a large luxury château situated on the outskirts of Monestier, a small village in the Dordogne. Monestier itself is nestled conveniently between the larger towns of Bordeaux and Bergerac, and makes an ideal stopping point for a tour of the Dordogne châteaux. To the west of Monestier, Bordeaux, and its uncountable beautiful châteaux, offers a vast wealth of impressive French architecture. From the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, to the Basilica of St. Michael, the views in this port city are incredible. While away the hours in the Musée d’Aquitane or the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, or venture down to the port to see the city light up at night. After crossing the peaceful green countryside that separates the village of Monestier from Bergerac, visitors may wish to explore the Château de Bridoire. Its pointed roofs and quirky architecture really seem to situate this château in the realm of fairy-tales. Alternatively, over the course of these four days, tour-takers may wish to visit Bergerac’s Musée du Vin et de la Battelerie and partake in a wine-tasting session, or explore the Eglise Notre-Dame to see its 19th Century French architecture. Dine with a backdrop of vineyards at the Château du Haut Pezaud, recognised as a local treasure. Available from Sarlat-la-Canéda is a highly interesting tour of the Palaeolithic art of the Dordogne caves, which takes you through the National Prehistory Museum, and ends in the famous Lascaux Cave II. If wine-tasting in a château appeals, then the Bordeaux area is teeming with a multitude of vineyards, each with their own château, producing popular wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Travel less than 2 hours north along the Gironde Estuary to reach Margaux and St. Estephe among others, or stay closer to Monestier to visit the larger vineyard of Saint-Émilion. Using Saint-Émilion as the centre-point, it is possible to work your way out into the surrounding area, exploring each new vineyard and château as it reveals itself.

    Drive from the Dordogne back up to the Loire Valley

    Upon returning to the Loire Valley, if you have the time, it is worthwhile looking around Amboise, the town nearest to the Château de la Bourdaisière, and walking along its riverside. The Château du Clos Lucé, the largest château in the town and the former residence of Leonardo Da Vinci in the final days of his life, displays in its grounds working models of his designs. Nearby Tours, a town similar in architecture to Angers, is best encapsulated by the image of its Tudor buildings, whose outcrops hang over the bank of the river Loire as it runs through the town. The Château de Chenonceaux, famous for being primarily owned by women throughout its history, is home to a vast art gallery and a collection of Flemish tapestries. Eat in its restaurant, l’Orangerie, or relax in the tea rooms, before exploring the wax museum or taking a boat ride. Finish your trip to this château with a wine-tasting experience. Between the 1st July and 31st August, night strolls are organised around the château and its grounds, to the sound of music by Arcangelo Corelli. For something a little more modern, view the contemporary art on display in the grounds of the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. The commune of Montlouis-sur-Loire is most well known for its moeleux dry, sweet and sparkling wines, which we highly recommend tasting at the Domaine de la Taille aux Loups, or alongside more local produce, in a nearby restaurant.

    Head north for Arras

    Arriving on the northern tip of France, in Pas de Calais, spend the afternoon exploring the varied history and architecture of Arras, where the Hôtel de l’Univers is situated. A vast proportion of the architecture of Arras dates from the Roman period, the era of Louis XIV, and the Age of Enlightenment; however, it is predominantly Flemish-Baroque, occasionally interspersed with more modern Art Deco. The city has a number of squares, where local markets are held on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as less frequent seasonal events. The Petite Place sits before the impressive and beautiful town hall, which is open to the public. In the 13th Century, Arras was proclaimed as the literary centre of Europe. Its 18th Century theatre, one of the last examples of a theatre ‘à l’italienne’ to exist in France, still puts on a number of productions during the warmer summer months. We would highly recommend a trip to the Saint-Vaast Abbey, with its Museum of Fine Arts, exhibition galleries, and thousand year old library, all hidden within. For those looking to escape from the city and spend the afternoon amongst nature, take a stroll along the walking paths of the Val de Scarpe, past its ponds, marshes, and moats.

    Leave Arras and embark on the journey home

    Enjoy a final breakfast in France at the Hôtel de l’Univers, and perhaps a final trip into Arras, before taking the short drive back to Calais and then on through the Eurotunnel.

    Driving times for this touring holiday:
    Calais to Honfleur: 3 hours
    Honfleur to Angers: 2 hours 45 minutes
    Angers to Monestier: 4 hours 40 minutes
    Monestier to Amboise: 4 hours 20 minutes
    Amboise to Arras: 4 hours
    Arras to Calais: 1 hour 5 minutes

    Chateaux and Manor Houses of the Dordogne v2

    Hotel Information

    Below is some information regarding each of the hotels featured on this touring itinerary for the Dordogne. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations - please contact us for full details.

    Auberge de la Source
    The four-star Auberge de la Source is a most attractive and delightful half-timbered and red-brick farmhouse of exceptional character, set in bucolic pastoral landscapes on the edge of a forest, just a stone’s throw from the picture-postcard town of Honfleur. Nestled in charming, tranquil gardens shaded by apple trees and scattered with flowers and ponds stocked full of trout and sturgeon, the hotel is comprised of the main auberge and two separate annexes, La Longère and Le Pavillon, where the 15 rooms are located. Abundant in charm and rustic character, many of the rooms at Auberge de la Source boast authentic original features, such as stone walls, oak beams and parquet flooring and overlook either the gardens or ponds. Incredibly stylish and immaculately presented throughout, choose between intimate and atmospheric Campagne rooms or the slightly larger Charme rooms which offer an even greater level of rustic refinement. Auberge de la Source also offers mezzanine rooms perfect for those traveling with children. Set in the main building, the restaurant offers a welcoming and inviting ambience for dinner, particularly in the winter when a warming fire burns in the hearth. In the spring and summer months, dinner on the terrace under the apple trees is a particularly magical experience. The menu features traditional Normandy cuisine and fresh country produce and dinner will undoubtedly be a highlight of your stay here. Other features of Auberge de la Source include a massage room and bicycles available to hire.
    Find out more here.

    Château de Noirieux
    Briollay, near Angers
    The Château de Noirieux is a superbly restored château and manor house situated in extensive parkland with views over the valley of the river Loir. This four-star Relais & Châteaux hotel consists of a 15th Century manor house, housing very spacious and comfortable bedrooms, and the 17th Century château itself, refurbished in the last couple of years. You approach the château down a long drive, and through an avenue of horse-chestnut and walnut trees; in the distance, down a slight hill, you see acres of fields and forest and the river Loir. The level of attention to detail is evident in the open fireplace of the cosy lounge, the bar and elegant restaurant, and other interesting features, such as the dried flower arrangements individually created for each room, and the home-grown bowls of fresh walnuts. The Michelin-starred restaurant continues to gain a well-deserved reputation under Chef Gerard Côme. There is also an outside terrace restaurant, where meals are served in fine weather. Amidst the extensive grounds that are perfect for whiling away the sunny hours of an afternoon, there is an open-air swimming pool (usually in service from May to September), a Jacuzzi in the pool house, cycles, a tennis court and table-tennis. The 19 bedrooms, divided between the château and manor house, are all extremely comfortable, with private bathrooms, and excellent facilities. The Château de Noirieux is highly recommended for luxurious short breaks or long, relaxing stays. One of our favourite hotels.
    Find out more here.

    Château des Vigiers
    Set amidst its own vineyards on the prestigious Route des Vins between Bordeaux and Bergerac, the Château des Vigiers offers an idyllic pastoral getaway in the delightful and unspoilt Périgord countryside. Built in 1597, on the site of an ancient fortified castle, though parts date back to the 12th Century, Vigiers was nicknamed ‘Petit Versailles’ for its architectural similarities to the prestigious Château de Versailles. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, this grand properly has been faithfully restored to its original 16th century glory and today offers 87 rooms and suites situated over three buildings on the estate. The French country-house style Château houses the hotel’s reception rooms, including a billiards room, Le Club bar and Les Fresques restaurant, which serves the freshest local produce in kitchens designed by Michel Roux. Brasserie Le Chai, situated in the old wine-making building and boasting a vast vaulted ceiling and open fire, includes a unique dining experience under the ancient walnut tree amidst glorious lake, parkland, and château views in summer. Classic rooms have a more modern style whilst deluxe rooms feature a private terrace and decoration more in keeping with the character of the hotel. The Dépendances meanwhile are situated just a short distance from the main building and were built in traditional, typically Périgordian style, using locally-source limestone, oak beams and terracotta tiles. The 11 standard Dépendance rooms have a cottage feel to them and can be joined to one of 11 suites, which feature a large living area and kitchen facilities to create the perfect family accommodation. The Relais offers a further 40 bedrooms and is much more modern in architectural style, its inspiration being the local tobacco barns. Located next to the first tee and just a few yards from the pro shop and brasserie, these rooms are perfect for golf aficionados. Designed by Donald Steel, the 27-hole gold course is a challenging yet delightful course to play and there are additional practise greens, bunkers, a driving range and six-hole academy course. The hotel also boasts the Maria Galland Wellness and Beauty Spa, where the extensive leisure facilities include a sauna, Hammam, fitness centre and outdoor heated pool.
    Find out more here.

    Château de la Bourdaisière
    Montlouis sur Loire
    In the heart of the Loire Valley, the 55 hectare estate of the Château de la Bourdaisière offers spectacular grounds made for exploration. Within this expanse of land, the 14th-16th century castle exudes regal charm. Divided into hotel and grounds, the former is justly named Hôtel de Charme and each of the 29 individually-decorated guestrooms is designed around their varying dimensions. Fourteen of the rooms are located in the chateau itself, with its three apartments available for families and larger parties, while Choiseul Lodge houses 12 rooms including an apartment. In sight of many of the rooms, the immediate surroundings of the castle feature pristine lawns and the manicured shrubbery of a formal garden. Such order gives way to wilder and freer terrain, where guests can discover many varieties of trees and the like: spot the 76 varieties of fruit trees, 180 varieties of dahlias and the 150 vegetables of the kitchen garden. Meanwhile, the 650 different strains of tomatoes in the Tomato Conservatory are a magical sight and feed the menu of Bar à Tomates, an open-air kitchen where guests dine on strictly fresh, home grown and local produce sourced within a 250-kilometre radius. The simple flavours drawn from the kitchen garden are sculpted into unusual dishes full of natural flavours that belong to the region. Recreate the dishes yourself after participating in cookery classes and learn how to grow organic produce from the estate’s gardeners. Other facilities at Château de la Bourdaisière include a heated outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court, a fitness circuit, and a horse riding club. You can also indulge with massages, reflexology, and shiatsu. Equidistant between Tours and Amboise, this is a great base for exploration.
    Find out more here.

    Hôtel de l’Univers
    The Hotel de l’Univers is situated in a quiet, attractive courtyard in the heart of Arras, and was originally a 17th-century Jesuit monastery, hospital and relais de poste before becoming a hotel in the early 1800s. Today the Hotel de l'Univers offers 38 modern yet elegant rooms set over two floors (most served by a lift), each boasting an individual décor. The gourmet restaurant, Le Clusius, offers a menu rich in both regional and French specialities accompanied by an extensive wine list and the hotel also has an appealing lounge bar. Limited parking available.
    Find out more here.

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  • France

    Find out more about France

    France FAST FACTS


    Main airports are in Paris, Bordeaux and Lyon, with scheduled and low cost airlines flying into the country from all over the UK.
    Euro (£1 = Euro 1.24)
    Roughly 600 miles wide and 700 miles long
    66 million
    Average temperature
    Varies dramatically, from about 8 degrees in winter in Brittany to 26 degrees in summer in Corsica, with snow on the Alps and Pyrenees year-round


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