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  • Fly-drive touring holiday of Tarn, Roussillon and Provence

    Le Saint-James

    Chateau de Salettes

    Chateau des Salettes

    Domaine de Verchant

    Domaine de Capelongue

    Fly-drive touring holiday of Tarn, Roussillon and Provence

    10 nights and 11 days
    This touring holiday incorporates the three southern regions of Tarn, Roussillon and Provence, each with their own unique and wonderful landscapes and rustic architecture. Watch the beautiful scenery roll on past as you drive from hotel to hotel and visit the charming attractions that this region has to offer, from vineyards and dramatic coastlines to hilltop villages and fortresses.

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

    This is a popular combination for touring holidays in France; taking you from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, it offers an opportunity to experience the individual character of each of these southern regions. Fly to Bordeaux and be ready to embark on this delightful journey by hire car. From the Bordeaux vineyards you drive into the Tarn region, down into French Catalonia and the foothills of the Pyrenees, where they touch the Mediterranean, and finally northeast to the lavender fields of the Lubéron and Provence. Near Bordeaux, your first night is spent at the Le Saint-James in the small village of Bouliac, before you drive alongside the Garonne River as it snakes its way southeast across Aquitaine towards Tarn and the Midi-Pyrenees. Your second hotel, the Château des Salettes, occupies an idyllic pastoral setting with far-reaching views over vine-clad hills. Here, you’re but 15 minutes from impressive Cordes-sur-Ciel and just half an hour from Albi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Toulouse-Lautrec. Continue south past Toulouse to the medieval citadel, Carcassone and your next stop, Hotel de la Cite, where you spend three nights. Bask in the historical ambiance of the journey as you drive across Cathar country into Languedoc-Roussillon and continue towards your next hotel. Reaching your charming hideaway, the Domaine de Verchant just outside Montpellier. Finally, begin your ascent northeast, passing timeless Mediterranean resorts and renowned names such as Nîmes, Avignon and Orange, where centuries of culture and heritage have left their impressive mark. Your final hotel is the charming Domaine de Capelongue, perfectly placed to leisurely explore the delights of the Provençal countryside. Your return flight will leave from Marseille, giving you one last aerial view of the purple, gold, and emerald landscape of Provence.

    for this fly-drive holiday from £2510 per person.

    What's included:
    • One night’s bed and breakfast at the Le Saint-James in Bouliac
    • Two nights’ bed and breakfast at the Château des Salettes in Cahuzac sur Vère, near Gaillac
    •  Three nights' bed and breakfast at Hotel de la Cite in Carcassonne
    • Three nights’ bed and breakfast at the Domaine de Verchant near Montpellier
    • Three nights’ bed and breakfast at the Domaine de Capelongue in Bonnieux
    • Scheduled flight from London to Bordeaux out and Marseille to London back with British Airways and a hire of a group A car for the duration of the holiday

    Fly-drive touring holiday of Tarn, Roussillon, and Provence

    Day-by-Day Itinerary

    Arrive in Bordeaux and spend one night in nearby Bouliac

    After your flight into France, spend a relaxing evening amongst some of France’s most well-respected vineyards near Bordeaux. Le Saint-James is the ideal location from which to sample the fruity Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as the Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec wines produced on wine estates such as Saint Émilion, and on the Médoc Peninsula. Perhaps extend your stay in Bouliac to enable exploration of the smaller estates that follow the path of the Gironde Estuary north of Bordeaux. Alternatively, if you have had your fill of travelling for one day, taste the wine grown on Le Saint-James’ estate alongside the delicious food in the Michelin-starred restaurant. We would recommend venturing into Bordeaux in the evening to see the port city light up at night, or to dine in one of its many excellent restaurants; take an after-dinner wander down the town’s streets to see the progression of its architecture, from the Amphithéàtre de Bordeaux dit Palais Gallien, to the Cathédrale de Bordeaux.

    Drive into the Tarn Valley and spend two nights near Gaillac

    Begin the journey south-west to Cahuzac-sur-Vère early to enable a few detours through the south of Dordogne country. Perhaps stop off at the medieval village of Issigeac, the Château de Lanquais, recognised to be one of the greatest historical monuments of the area, the medieval and Rennaisance Château de Monbazillac, the model bastide of Monpazier, or the crystalline Maxange caves. The area is so rich with culture and history that it is worth further exploration if time permits. Your destination is the Château des Salettes, an elegant building that combines the comfort of contemporary design with the historical backdrop of the French châteaux. Cahuzac-sur-Vère is home to some of the most well-respected and popular wine estates of the Gaillac area; visit the Domaine des Tres Cantous to try some of the local Vin d’Autan or the Vin de Voile, or on further travels into Gaillac look out for Mauzac, Muscadelle, Sauvignon, Loin de l’Oeil, and Ondenc. Less than an hour away lies Montauban. Dating back to 1144, it is the second oldest bastide in Southern France, and therefore a hugely relevant historical site to visit on this touring holiday of the best of the south of France. In the town centre, we would encourage you to try some of the local culinary specialities, such as sugared almonds, biscuits with jam, and the work of the chocolatiers. For wine-tasting experiences in Montauban, try the Domaine de Montels or the Mas des Anges. The nearby city of Albi beckons, with its imposing red brick medieval cathedral and Bishop’s Palace, now home to the Toulouse-Lautrec museum. The cathedral’s interior is decorated almost exclusively with wood and stone, while the western external wall features an extensive mural depicting the Last Judgement that remains popular with Albi’s visitors. Albi’s piazza overlooks stunning views of the Tarn, as does the thousand-year-old bridge. Perhaps wander up the winding streets of Cordes-sur-Ciel as they emerge above the clouds, and visit its unusual sugar-works museum that turns the specialist sugar and chocolate products of the area into works of art. Take a tour 350m underground in the old mining town of Carmaux, or travel further north to Rodez to see the Viaduc du Viaur, designed by Gustave Eiffel.

    Drive south and spend three nights in Carcassonne

    On flatter ground in Languedoc-Roussillon, continue southwards to the UNESCO- listed, medieval citadel of Carcassonne and the Hotel de la Cite. The hotel it is elegant and ideally situated for cultural exploration as it is perched on the walls that defended the city. Within La Cité, take the time to walk around the streets and appreciate the ambience of the place, passing the amphitheatre and basilica in particular. Descend into the newer districts of Carcassonne, built outside the walls of La Cité, to visit the weekly food market in the Place Carnot, or the quaint individual stores that each provide unique gifts and local crafts. Carcassonne provides a charming blend of peaceful rural France and more chic restaurants and bars, usually found in the bigger cities. Nearby towns of Béziers and Narbonne are ideal excursions for the pursuit of designer shops, elegant bars, and even more fine dining. For a more intimate exploration of the castles of this region, drive out into Cathar Country and track down the Château de Lastours, partially ruined and perched on a hilltop deep in the Roussillon countryside. While outside Carcassonne, perhaps stop at a château in the Minervois region to the north of Carcassonne, or in the Corbières region to the south. Though the area appears to be traditionalist due to the prevalence of its history, wine-making in the area is surprisingly experimental. The Château Camet in Minervois is the perfect place to taste the Muscat wines typical of the region, or descend into Corbières for fruity red wines. The Château Rives-Blanques in Cépie produces excellent quality wines that are sold internationally. Alternatively, head back into the Montagne Noire and Saint Chinian to taste more exclusive wine in a setting a little off the beaten track. From Carcassone, explore eastwards to the Mediterranean coast to explore the likes of Perpignan and its Palace of the Kings of Majorca, though do not neglect its other architectural wonders, such as the Lodge of the Sea, the Palais de Députation, or the Castillet. Slightly further afield just under 2 hours away, is the port town of Collioure with its golden sandy beaches and beautifully clear waters, before walking along the winding streets towards the castle that is so popular with artists. In the evenings relax at the hotel and perhaps enjoy the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant.

    Drive north-east into Provence and stay for two nights near Montpellier
    Continue north east towards your next hotel, Le Domaine de Verchant, conveniently located just outside Montpellier. Your hotel here is a 16th century mansion house situated in a tranquil countryside estate with views over the surrounding vineyards. Use your time here to explore the many sights of Montpellier. Wander the winding medieval streets of the old town, discovering mansions that have roots in the medieval period and take time to visit and enjoy the main square of the city Place de la Comédie with the renovated museum Opéra Comédie. Be sure to take in the other main attractions of this city including Gothic Cathédrale Saint- Pierre with its distinctive towers which date back to 1364, are the Porte du Peyrou and the Musée de Fabre a renowned fine art museum located in the centre of the city. Further outside of Montpellier, but within reach in under an hour is the city of Nimes where you can find stunningly preserved Roman architecture, including the famous aqueduct, the Arena of Nimes, a double tiered amphitheatre still used as a venue today and the Maison Carrée, built in white limestone and estimated to be around 2000 years old. Also a suggested day trip is Aigues- Mortes, a medieval city that overlooks pink-tinged salt flats, just 30- minutes from the hotel. After a day exploring the region, return to your hotel and relax by the swimming pools, enjoy a treatment at the spa or even a wine tasting of the hotel’s own labels. Enjoy dinner at the hotel’s restaurant which serves Mediterranean cuisine which can be washed down with local wine, some of which has been produced in the hotel’s own vineyard.  

    Leave Montpellier and head east towards Bonnieux

     Head eastwards to your next hotel the Domaine de Capelongue, perhaps the most traditional of all the locations visited on this tour, set just under an hour away from both the large town of Avignon and the town of Aix-en-Provence. The hotel boasts vast gardens, with views over the surrounding countryside and is a perfect base for exploring the region. Provence Provence is famed for its lavender fields and there are many fine examples nearby the hotel including the Abbaye de Sénanque, which dates back to 1148 and boasts some of the finest lavender fields in the region. Perhaps take a trip to Sault to enjoy the annual lavender festival. If the artistic history of the region is what inspires you, take a day trip into Aix-en-Provence to admire the Cézanne’s beloved Sainte-Victoire Mountain, and visit his former Atelier. Or travel an hour to the east to Avignon, a city shaped by a cocktail of ancient and medieval architecture. The Palais des Papes, internationally famous, is recognised to be one of the largest, and therefore one of the most atmospheric, gothic cathedrals in the world. Yet, despite the scale of its central monument, there are many smaller, more secluded places of interest; for example, Avignon’s streets are punctuated by small, hidden gardens, enticing visitors into their luxurious green shade. The summertime brings with it the Avignon Theatre Festival, founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar, and now reputed to be one of the best in the world, involving dance, theatre, readings, and most of all, an abundance of vibrant colour. Slightly further afield is Arles, the town that inspired artists such as Cézanne and Van Gogh. For more peaceful alternatives, the nearby villages of Gordes and Bories with their golden- stone house are excellent choices to explore. Perfect for venturing into the city, or exploring the picturesque delights of the Provençal landscapes, the Domaine de Capelongue is a wonderful final stop for this tour.

    Leave Noves and return to Marseille for your flight

    After enjoying breakfast at the hotel and taking a last look at the picturesque landscapes of rural Provence, drive to Marseille to catch your flight home to the UK.

    Driving times for this touring holiday:
    Bordeaux to Sant Emilion: 45 minutes
    Sant Emilion to Cahuzac-sur-Vère: 2 hours 30 minutes
    Cahuzac-sur-Vère to Carcassonne: 1 hours 35 minutes
    Carcassonne to Montpellier: 1 hour 45 minutes
    Montpellier to Bonnieux: 2 hours
    Bonnieux to Marseille: 1 hour 25 minutes 

    Tarn, Roussillon, and Provence v2

    Hotel Information

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

    Le Saint-James
    This Relais & Châteaux property is a unique find on a hillside perch on the borders of the sleepy village of Bouliac, just outside Bordeaux. Le Saint-James’ unusual architecture was designed by Jean Nouvel to resemble the tobacco-drying barns of the region, where the original 18th century farmhouse buildings contrast industrial-style pavilions – home to the guestrooms. From here the views are spectacular, sloping through orderly vineyards across the fields to Bordeaux. The 15 rooms and 3 suites feature a sparse décor with white walls and bed linens allowing the colours of the landscape to stand out. A marvellous feature of the rooms is that the beds stand elevated to the level of panoramic windows, allowing sunrise views to greet you when you wake. You can opt to take breakfast in bed to make the most of your unique accommodation. At the restaurant, floor-to-ceiling windows take advantage of the hotel’s westward-facing aspect, and sunlight and rural beauty becomes the backdrop for fine dining from Michelin-starred Chef Nicolas Magie. Here you can enjoy dishes inspired by the Aquitaine region, filled with market ingredients. For more low-key dining, it is a short walk to the authentic village cafeteria Le Café de l’Espérance for hearty, home cooked goods from specials lists chalked onto blackboards. Both venues are run by Le Saint-James and serve the home-grown house wine, Vin du Jardin. Food and wine is central to the Le Saint-James experience with a service that includes tours of the wine cellar’s 2000 labels, wine tasting and the exclusive addition of a cookery school. Côte Cours operates a schedule of events that is suitable for all ages and abilities, with thematic classes led by the sous-chef to Nicolas Magie. The pristine conservatory setting of the teaching kitchen even hosts a ‘Little Chefs’ package for youngsters to be introduced to the French Classics. Le Saint-James is perfect for guests seeking a rural lifestyle with emphasis on good food and good wine, while access to urban Bordeaux is just a stone’s throw away.
    Find out more here.

    Château des Salettes
    The delightful four-star Château de Salettes is set in the heart of the Gaillac vineyards on a chalk outcrop, just a 15-minute drive from Cordes-sur-Ciel and 30 minutes from Albi. The hotel dates back to the 13th century and seamlessly blends a traditional château exterior with a modern interior décor. The Château de Salettes occupies an idyllically rural setting amidst the Tarn countryside, with far-reaching views over pastoral landscapes of rolling hills clad in vines. The outdoor swimming pool and sun terrace sit atop a rocky spur, affording the ultimate in privacy, tranquillity and panoramas whilst, indoors, a range of beauty treatments are available. The 13 rooms and five suites at the Château de Salettes are contemporary in design, with a minimalist feel and a light, neutral colour scheme. Varying in size and outlook, the rooms are situated in the main château and tower, featuring air conditioning, mini-bar, WiFi, telephone, television and king-size beds. Some also have a Jacuzzi bath. The Château des Salettes in Tarn boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant with al fresco dining on the shaded terrace in warmer months, accompanied, of course, by some of the finest local vintages.
    Find out more here.

    Hotel de la Cite
    The Hôtel de la Cité occupies a privileged position on the site of a former episcopal palace within the mediaeval walled city of Carcassonne. The building’s original features such as beamed ceilings, wooden panelling and floral tapestries have been preserved and enhanced by fine fabrics and hand crafted furniture from local workshops. The emphasis is on traditional style matched by contemporary comfort. All bedrooms have private bathroom, sound-proofing, air conditioning, telephone, television and video. The Hôtel de la Cité has an excellent gourmet restaurant with a Michelin star, La Barbacane, located in the heart of the hotel, with high Gothic ceilings. There is also a library bar for relaxation with live piano music in the evenings on occasion. Outside is a heated swimming pool and gardens of lawn and flower beds. Unique and luxurious, elegant and traditional, the Hôtel de la Cité is well worth a visit.
    Find out more here

    Domaine de Verchant
    The five-star Domaine de Verchant is a boutique hotel located just outside the lively city of Montpellier. A Relais & Chateaux property it enjoys the tranquillity of a rural estate, whilst being within easy reach of the city. The hotel is a country mansion dating back to the 16th century which boasts striking views over the surroundings from the verandas. Simple yet elegant the interiors of the hotel are contemporary and stylish, in contrast to the more rustic façade of the hotel itself. Minimalistic colour schemes and modern furniture complete the rooms and blend seamlessly with more traditional features, such as exposed stonework and wooden beams. Set within its own vineyards wine tasting is available at the hotel or can be sampled alongside the delicious Mediterranean cuisine served at the restaurant. During the day guests can also enjoy the swimming pools, spa treatments or tennis at the hotel. A picturesque hotel that blends rustic charm and contemporary style, in an excellent location.  
    Find out more here
    Domaine de Capelongue

    The Domaine de Capelongue is a boutique four-star hotel in extensive, tranquil gardens just outside the village of Bonnieux. Made up of a series of authentic Provencal dry-stone buildings with terracotta tiled roofs the hotel boasts large grounds including botanical gardens, fruit trees and a large pool with panoramic views. The traditional features continue into the 17 rooms, with tiled floors, classic armchairs and textured bed throws which are combined with bright, neutral colours which add a contemporary touch. The hotel also has a spa for those wishing to simply relax at the hotel. In the evenings guests can choose between the Gourmet Restaurant Edouard Loubert, run by the eponymous double-Michelin-starred chef and La Bergerie restaurant situated in a charming corner of the hotel gardens surrounded by lavender fields and orchards. The Domaine de Capelongue offers a peaceful and traditional Provencal experience, in a beautiful location.
    See 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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