Southern France

If you are seeking the provincial France of the past – with narrow country lanes, authentic village life, buzzing markets, gothic cathedrals and Michelin-starred restaurants, look no further. Cairn Travels has created an amazing vacation in some of the most idyllic scenery anywhere.

Day 1: Upon arriving in the city of Toulouse France, your rental car will be ready at the airport. The day is yours! Perhaps you would like to explore the town of Toulouse on foot. Toulouse is a small and walkable city. With its elegant squares, atmospheric old town and lively covered markets, there are few cities which feel quite as authentically French as Toulouse – it’s like a southern version of Paris only smaller, cheaper and friendlier, with fewer crowds. Your hotel is within walking distance from city center and 5 miles from the airport. Enjoy your first night of French cuisine before you get some much needed rest

Day 2: A driving itinerary will be provided with suggestions on activities and restaurants in route to your next destination, two hours away. Pass medieval villages, massive castles and painted caves of prehistoric times. The next two evenings will be spent at a B&B in an idyllic setting. Each room has a garden view as well as access to the gardens, kitchen, terrace, and an outdoor pool.

Day 3: Wake up to a leisure breakfast, stroll the grounds of the B&B before beginning a day of driving beautiful landscapes & charming medieval villages.

Ancient villages built into steep cliffs, curious loops in rivers, Romanesque churches and the food….truffles, walnut oil, renowned goat cheese and the region’s best wine along with a market or two of course.

Included in your tour is an hour boat ride on a Gabares. The Gabares are traditional flat bottom boats in the style that were used to transport goods along the Dordogne river, especially wine from the vineyards which run along the length of the Dordogne .

A trip on one of the Gabares offers a relaxing way to enjoy the sight of some of the many Dordogne chateaux and villages from the perspective of the river. Various sights and wildlife are pointed out to you as you meander slowly down the river as well as the history of the Gabares. (Audioguides are available free of charge in English).

Day 4: Today drive through some of the world’s most stunning, geologically diverse countryside to another hush hush corner of France. The area boasts the most villages (10) in any one region described as the most beautiful in France.

Your lodging for the next three evenings is a quaint riverside inn with only seven rooms, built on the far side of the riverbank overlooking the river and a multitude of trees. The rooms are bright & relaxed. Dine at the renowned restaurant at the inn or choose from a restaurant in the village.

The setting of the hotel in this “plus beau village de France” is idyllic, with the hotel one side of the river and the restaurant on the other side, with the chateau dominating the village. The views are amazing. We spent two nights here and very much enjoyed our stay. The room was very comfortable and well appointed. The restaurant is superb – a Michelin star (and well merited), with excellent locally-sourced products. Highly recommended.

Day 5, 6 & 7: Spend the next two days relaxing at the inn, shop the weekly markets, visit a French vineyard, tour the local cheese caves & drive the areas most picturesque villages. One of the highlights of the trip will be the fine cuisine of the region. The area boasts many top chefs who are fortunate enough to rely upon the local ingredients for these culinary masterpieces. France’s most celebrated chef, Michel Bras has two restaurants in the area. Reservations are recommended months in advance.

Take full advantage of your days in gorgeous French countryside before driving back to Toulouse for your final night before your departure.

Day 8: After breakfast, return the rental car at Toulouse airport and prepare for the return flight home.