The Dordogne & Carcassonne
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See a new side of Southern France on this 8-day rail holiday to 2 of the country's most historic regions. Experience the beauty of the ancient Dordogne Valley, before a city break with a difference in medieval Carcassonne.
Meet this morning at our London St Pancras Departure Office, before boarding the Eurostar to Paris. In the French capital, continue your journey by rail to Souillac, a picturesque town perfect as a base for exploring the Dordogne Valley. Check into your hotel, the La Vieille Auberge & Le Quercy.
This morning is at leisure, why not make a visit to Souillac's weekly market? With plenty of stalls selling local crafts and produce, it's a great opportunity to sample the fresh flavours of the region and pick up some gifts for those back home. Alternatively you could explore the town beyond, visiting the treasured 19thcentury market hall and the unusual Musee de l'Automate. This afternoon enjoy an excursion to Château des Milandes, an historic stately home built in 1489. As the former home of Josephine Baker, the famous music hall performer who first sashayed onto the Parisian stage during the roaring 1920s, the property has kept her spirit alive by presenting the preserved Art Deco rooms alongside some of her risqué costumes.
Enjoy a morning visit to nearby Sarlat, which occupies a delightful setting between 2 hills. Today is market day, allowing you to rub shoulders with locals among colourful stalls selling a variety of local specialities, cheeses, sausages and foie gras - a famous product of the region. This afternoon, continue to the pretty town of La Roque-Gageac, on the banks of the Dordogne.
Here, take to the water for a cruise on a traditional flat-bottomed Gabare boat, cruising past 5 of the valley's most beautiful châteaux. Afterwards, there's time at leisure soak up La Roque-Gageac's beauty. Its riverfront location means the town is spread across different levels, with stairs cut into the cliff side to create meandering walkways lined with flowers and boasting fantastic views from the top.
Today's first stop is Martel, once a medieval 'city' of 7 towers, it now is classed as a picturesque village. Here, board the restored Truffadou Steam Train for a round journey through the surrounding countryside. Formerly used to transport truffles to the village of St Denis, the railway first opened in 1889 to great success and ran scheduled services for almost 100 years before being repurposed as a tourist attraction.
Next, make a visit to the pilgrimage site of Rocamadour. Named for St Amadour, a devout hermit whose body was discovered in a cave in 1166, visitors and worshippers come here to witness the Black Virgin, an 11th-century statue of the Virgin Mary still on display in the chapel of St Michel. You could climb the 'Grand Escalier' - 216 steps to the top, though a lift is also available nowadays - to visit some of the churches hewn from the rock.
After breakfast today, travel by coach to the historic town of Albi where you are free for lunch. Afterwards continue to Carcassonne, a city famed as the last stronghold of the Cathars during the 12th century. Your hotel for the next 3 nights is the Ibis Styles Carcassonne La Cité.
On Day 6, set out on a guided walking tour of Carcassonne. The city is renowned for its impenetrable city walls, which still encircle the citadel entirely. Defensive towers and drawbridges - all original features - have led to the city being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. Accessed by an ancient bridge which crosses the former moat, the Cité is the archetypal icon of romantic medieval France. Your tour covers the key attractions of the Cité, and includes entrance to the impressive Château Comtal. Dating back 9 centuries, inside you'll find a fascinating museum dedicated to the siege of Carcassonne. The rest of your day is at leisure.
Enjoy a morning at leisure and perhaps continue sightseeing in Carcassonne. Across the water you'll find Bastide St Louis, which, despite its status as the 'New Town', was actually established in the 14th century. This afternoon, transfer by coach to Limoux, a centre of wine production in Languedoc.
Visit a locally-producing wine cellar for a tour of the property as well as a tasting of 2 of its most famous varieties - Blanquette de Limoux and Cremant de Limoux.
After a final breakfast today, begin your journey home. From Carcassonne, drive to nearby Toulouse, where you join the train to Paris. On arrival board the Eurostar service to London St Pancras, where your holiday comes to an end.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.
Enhancing your tour
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
See a new side of Southern France