The Undiscovered Aveyron

September 9-16, 2021

$5,115.00/person

An 8-day trip through the little-known Aveyron region. Explore a place where the French go on holiday and is filled with many of the most beautiful villages in France. You will get to discover the secrets of this fairytale land rich with foie gras, rolling fields, hearty red wines and Roquefort cheese – one of the real hidden gems of France.

Overview

  • Visiting the gorgeous Toulouse-Lautrec Museum inside a castle
  • Touring Albi’s Gothic/Romanesque Cathedral dating back to 1282
  • Dining at a 3-Michelin Star Restaurant and meeting the chef
  • Staying in a stunning Chateau
  • Visiting some of the most beautiful villages in France
  • Standing on a 1000 year-old-bridge on the Road to Compostelle
  • Learning of the brilliance of the 100-year-old artist Soulages at his museum in Rodez
  • Savoring a true farm to table experience in the hills of the Aveyron
  • Visiting the knife factory designed by Phillippe Starck
  • Discovering the Chateau of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, former President of France

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrival

Arrive in Toulouse via train from Paris, where you will be picked up at the train station.

After a short 1-hour drive to Albi, you will check into an exceptional hotel. There will be time to rest before meeting with your travel mates for drinks.

Dinner will be in the restaurant located in the hotel. You will get to drink superb local wines and toast to your arrival in France in this jewel box space with skylights and excellent modern French food.

Day 2

Albi

Today, you will discover the charming ancient city of Albi, situated on the river Tarn and dating back to the Bronze age. You will walk across its bridges, some of which are nearly 1000 years old, and then tour Albi’s 13th century cathedral.

After, you will enjoy lunch at a neo-bistro in town. In the afternoon, you will tour the Toulouse Lautrec Museum and its stunning formal gardens, before heading back to hotel for some rest and relaxation.

Dinner tonight will be at Ambroisie, a highly rated family-run bistro in central Albi.

Day 3

Cordes sur Ciel and Najac

Today, you will head out on an adventure to historic Najac, situated on a bend on the river Tarn and considered one of the most beautiful villages in France with its charming half-timbered houses.

On the way to Najac, you will get to explore the Bastide town of Cordes sur Ciel, built in 1222 by the Count of Toulouse. You will enjoy local delicacies for lunch al fresco

Upon arrival in Najac, you will walk the length of the town until you come upon the magical view of the Najac castle, dating back to 1253. During your stroll,  you will stop to taste some organic locally-made sweets. If you wish, you can make the climb up to the ruins of the castle where you’ll enjoy an expansive view over the former Kingdom.

The rest of the afternoon will be free in Albi – you can rest, shop or read outside with a cup of tea or glass of rosé wine. Dinner tonight will be at a delightful modern French wine bar across the river.

Day 4

Rodez

After breakfast, you will check out of the hotel and head east to the Aveyron department. For the next part of the trip, you will be staying at the exquisite Chateau Labro, just outside of the city of Rodez .

You will explore the capital of the region and visit its newest, most important museum. Here you will discover the work of the area’s most famous artist, Pierre Soulages in a superbly designed building dedicated to his art. You will have a private guided visit with the founder of the board of the organization before having lunch at the celebrated Cafe Bras located within the Soulages museum.

In the afternoon, take time to relax by the pool at the exceptional Chateau. For dinner, you will head to an exceptional pizza place in Rodez.

Day 5

Estaing and Espalion

Today you will head to Espalion, a charming Aveyronaise village, which is a stop on the road to Compostelle, the 1000-year-old pilgrimage to Spain. Espalion is situated on the Lot river and boasts an 11th century bridge. You will enjoy a simple homemade lunch followed by some shopping and exploring.

Next, you will visit the tiny but spectacular village of Estaing to visit the Chateau at the center of this historic town which been in the family of the former President of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, for 400 years. You can also visit the lovely church directly across from the Chateau.

In the late afternoon, you will make a pit stop at the stunning pottery museum and shop in Le Fel, which specializes in some of the most incredible ceramic art you’ve ever seen.

Tonight, after a short tour of the Ferme Mejanaserre, you will feast on whole pig, duck or whatever they choose to roast over a spit in their gigantic fireplace. They make or grow everything on the menu and they even throw the pottery on which your meal sits. You will get to try the region’s speciality, Aligot, which is mashed potatoes whipped together with local cantal or tomme cheese. This is hyperlocal organic French food at its very finest – down to the digestifs they make in house.

Day 6

Lagouile

Today you will discover Lagouile, the area and town famous for its beef and its handmade knives. En route, you will stop off to see the nuns at the Abbaye de Bonneval who make delicious handmade chocolate.

Afterwards, you will head to the Laguiole factory designed by Philippe Starck. This is a great place to get a souvenir wine opener, country knife or a set of horn handled steak knives which will be keepsakes forever.

Then, you will sit down to a 3-hour lunch at the 3 Michelin star restaurant Bras, created by Michel Bras, one of the most important chefs in France. Included in this experience is a visit to the kitchen to meet the chef.

This afternoon and evening will be set aside for relaxation, free time and will end with dinner on your own.

Day 7

Conques

Today, you will visit Conques, a holy site since the 7th century. You will have the pleasure of seeing the unique stained-glass windows designed by Pierre Soulages for the 11th century abbey. You will then get to explore this charming town on your own. After, you will enjoy lunch nearby on a lovely terrace and outdoor restaurant manned by a talented chef.

After lunch, head back to the Chateau hotel for rest and relaxation or a pop into the pool to refresh.

Tonight, the farewell dinner will be at the Chateau’s beautiful restaurant – starting with celebratory drinks outside on the terrace to watch the sunset. You and your travel mates will toast to a glorious week, with new memories and new friendships created.

Day 8

Departure

Alas, the trip has come to an end! After breakfast, you will depart via Rodez airport.

Accommodation

Albi - Alchimi - 4* boutique hotel

This modern and sleek 7-room hotel, in what used to be old village houses, is redesigned in an Art Deco fashion and is ideally located in the heart of the historical centre of the town of Albi.

Rodez - Chateau de Labro - charming chateau property

Set a few kilometres outside Rodez against a beautiful green backdrop, you will be enchanted by this unique and charming 16th century chateau turned hotel. The property boasts an incredible spa, a swimming pool in the orchard and a vineyard.

Leaders

Katrin Hodapp

This trip will be led by Katrin Hodapp, a 20-year resident of Paris. She’s American with German roots and is fluent in English, German, French and Spanish. As a former literary agent, she has many a story to tell.

Details

Included

  • 8 days, 7 nights with accomodation at two unique four-star hotels, one of which is a Chateau
  • All indicated activities and meals, including wine or beer with dinner
  • All guides and experts
  • All Museum or other entry fees
  • All in-country transport, including airport and train transfers in Toulouse and Rodez

Not Included

  • International airfare to France
  • Train travel to Toulouse and airfare back from Rodez
  • Dinner on Day 6
  • Spa treatments
  • Any additional expenses
  • Alcoholic beverages beyond as indicated above
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended) and trip medical coverage (required for travelers over 50 years of age)

Luxury Add Ons

  • Jet lag rejuvenation massage

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