• slidebg1

SPAIN & FRANCE

On the Border of Spain & France

Luxury Food, Wine & Cultural Tour

Description

Escape the crowds and experience the real Spain and South Western France on a self drive wine tour which commences and finishes in Barcelona.   From the sophistication of Barcelona with guided tours of the fabulous architecture of Gaudi and imaginative tastings of Iberian Ham and Local Cheese, to the historical drama of old Girona and the sparkling beauty of a deep blue sea at Cadaques.   Visits to Spanish wineries, the freedom of the road and the medieval imagery of Carcassonne;  an opportunity to visit Toulouse, followed by a walk back in time with a visit to Biarritz, prior to arriving in the tapas haven of San Sebastian.  A chance to see architecture by Frank Ghery with the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and a visit to one of the most fascinating wineries in the wine region of La Rioja prior to returning to Barcelona at the end of your memorable Northern Spain & France Food and Wine Tour.

DAY 1 BARCELONA

On arrival at Barcelona Airport our Chauffeur will be awaiting you with a luxury vehicle ready to transfer you to your 4* boutique hotel, ideally located in the Barcelona Gothic Quarter, nearby to all major sights, but at the same time on the port front. The rooftop terrace bar and pool provide an astonishing view of the city as well as the port, and your lovely room looks out onto the harbor. Formerly, your hotel was the residence of a wealthy Duke in the city and is deep-seated in history.

A representative of Gourmand Breaks will meet you at your hotel for a welcome drink and together you will discuss your personalized itinerary for the rest of your private cultural, food and wine tour. Apart from having available your Online Personal Travel Webpage, you will be handed your Personal Travel Journals containing all your itinerary details and plenty of suggestions for restaurants and free time activities.

On this first evening in Barcelona you might want to relax and unwind after your journey and settle into your lovely hotel. We have several dinner recommendations for fine restaurants, as well as informal tapas places nearby.

In a Nutshell: Luxury Private Airport Transfer from Barcelona Airport, Overnight in a 4* luxury palace hotel overlooking the port in Barcelona

DAY 2 BARCELONA

This morning, after a delicious breakfast, your Gourmand Breaks Officially Licensed Guide will await you at your hotel. Together you will beat the queues as you enjoy a private guided visit to the incredible La Sagrada Familia, a work on a grand scale which began in 1882. At the end of 1883 Gaudi, the most internationally renowned and emblematic architect of the city, was commissioned to carry on the works, a task which he did not abandon until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work after his original idea, but it remains unfinished.

You will then continue on your journey, now focused on the authentic gourmet foods in Spain, starting with a guided visit to La Boqueria market, Spains largest marketplace. La Boqueria is like a museum of the brightest and most delectable foods in Spain. Our expert culinary guide will lead you around the best booths and you will taste some of the most delicious local seasonal produce at one famous La Boqueria bar, frequented by celebrities. A glass of a fine brut nature cava will surely go down a treat with a tapa of Chantrelle mushrooms, or fresh cockles, squid or maybe even scrambled eggs with wild asparagus.

Continuing your private walking tour through the Gothic quarter of Barcelona you will see a few architectural feats: the famous Barcelona Cathedral, Sant Jaume Square and the amazing Santa Maria del Mar Church, which is a beautiful and important 14th-century church and considered the finest and most complete example of Catalan Gothic architecture anywhere. You will, of course, enjoy a wander through Las Ramblas, the colorful must-see pedestrian area. Our guide is a real specialist in local history and will amuse you with fascinating local stories and funny anecdotes. Following this, your tour will take the path of Picasso on the famous Avignon Street. You will pass the Picasso museum (your guide will be able purchase tickets if you wish to visit this afternoon). Now you will taste some of the best natural artisan Spanish cheeses at a charming local cheese shop. The knowledgeable owner will divulge the secrets of the best Spanish cheeses while you taste some of the delicious specialties paired with some excellent Priorat wine. For something sweet, your tour will stop at the oldest venue in Barcelona for dried nuts and fruits, homemade nougats and chocolates. This quaint and local store, specializing in roasting coffee beans and nuts for over 150 years, is still decorated with its original furniture and old wood-burning stove.

Your luxury private tour will be rounded off with a light lunch of exquisite delicatessen produce which will include Spains best Iberic bellota ham - Joselito, fine cold meats and sausages, some of the finest local preserves of wild tuna, anchovies,or clams from Galicia, a selection of the best Spanish olive oils, etc., all enjoyed at one of the best delicatessens in the city. In addition there are English speaking sommeliers on hand to guide you through more than 6000 wines. Your guide will leave you at the finale of your tour when you are settled safely into this amazing delicatessen enjoying your meal.

The rest of your afternoon will be free to enjoy as you wish. Prior to leaving you, your guide will be happy to provide a lot of suggestions for really good places to eat, cafes, shops, etc.

In a Nutshell: Private guided tour of La Sagrada Familia and the Gothic Quarter and Born Areas of Barcelona with gourmet food and wine tastings, Overnight Barcelona

DAY 3 BARCELONA

This morning, after a delicious breakfast, the day can be as full as you please. You will have received many suggestions from your private tour guide yesterday for further sightseeing areas, as well as some great dining options.

Maybe you wish to see some more of Gaudis fantastic architecture: Parc Guell is located in uptown Barcelona and is one of the most beautiful icons of the city of Barcelona. Park Guell, a work by Antoni Gaudi carried our between 1900 and 1914, has wonderful views of the city where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll surrounded by nature and modernist works. On the Passeig de Gracia, in the city center, you can see other famous works of Gaudi, including his famous Casa Batllo and la Pedrera. Throughout the work of Gaudi, you will see much of his architectural inspiration came from his experiences in nature. Gaudi is the most internationally renowned and emblematic architect of the city. His famous Pedrera was built between 1906 and 1910 for the Mila family. This is one of the main Gaudi residential buildings and one of the most imaginative houses of the history of the architecture, this building is more a sculpture than a building.

You may like to join a small group Cooking Class today, where you will first meet with chef to learn about the local produce and subsequently head to the market to buy the ingredients required for your cooking class. It is then off to the cooking school where, on the instructions of chef, you will prepare lunch which you will then be able to enjoy with local wines. We will be delighted to include this fantastic cooking class in Barcelona in your quotation on request. Alternatively, we could arrange for you to join a a local wine expert for an exclusive tasting of some top Spanish Wines from the best Spanish Wine Regions.

Maybe you would like to do your own thing today and take advantage of the great shopping, stroll along the beachfront of Barceloneta or return to the old Gothic Quarter, the choices are yours! We have many suggestions for restaurants which will suit your mood of the moment, whether you are looking for an informal dinner or a Michelin Starred experience.

In a Nutshell: Free day in Barcelona, OPTIONAL Cooking Class / Exclusive Wine Tasting in Barcelona, Overnight Barcelona

DAY 4 GIRONA & BESALU

This morning, after breakfast, you will be greeted by a car rental representative who will be awaiting you with your premium rental vehicle equipped with GPS. You will then travel to the beautiful Catalan countryside.

Your excellent Officially Licensed Guide will await you in Besalu, a picturesque and fascinating medieval village, renowned for its beauty and the 11th century Roman bridge that once was necessary to adjoin this small village to land. You will visit the village and the ruins of the Jewish quarter of Besalu, dating back to the 9th century and the well-preserved Jewish baths, traditionally used for purification, dating back to the 12th century. The villagers here grow herbs in the pretty local public gardens for their well-known and traditional homemade wine, ratafia. The different families of Besalu have variations of this sweet wine and use their own secret combination of aromatic herbs to flavor this digestive liquor. You will certainly discover your own favorite ratafia!

Then your guide will lead you to the incredible city of Girona. In the medieval old town, you will discover the magnificent cathedral with the widest Gothic nave in Europe. You will meander through the famed Jewish Quarter, where each winding narrow street brings discoveries of quaint and specialized shops to discover and you will visit the beautiful Arab baths and have an opportunity to look around the Jewish Museum.

Afterwards you will travel to your new home for the next three nights - an authentic Spanish medieval castle, an architectural jewel that was built eight centuries ago. This hotel offers all of today's luxuries while still maintaining the old world and grandeur of a castle. After checking in to the hotel you will be free to relax and discover your surroundings by exploring the hundred-year-old forest and a splendid olive orchard surrounding the hotel, overlooking the hills of the scenic Emporda countryside.

In a Nutshell: Provision of a premium rental vehicle equipped with GPS and automatic transmission, Private guided tour of Girona and Besalu with food and wine tastings; Overnight in a 4* Medieval Castle Hotel in the Emporda Region

DAY 5 EMPORDA

This morning after breakfast at your castle hotel, you will visit a unique and very special winery, hidden away high up in the hills, not far from the fishing port of Palamos. This recently designed and constructed winery is unlike anything you have seen before, to say it is dramatic is inadequate for it is an amazing edifice, designed by a Catalan architect from the definitive guidelines of the owner. The grape vines growing in the fields surrounding the area are cultivated organically and with special attention to the particular characteristics of the grapes to ensure that they have been planted in the best possible locations for perfect growth and maturity. Harvesting is done entirely by hand and following this procedure there is a further exhaustive selection process to ensure that each and every grape is of the highest quality to produce the finest of wines. Following the wine making process, storage is in the labyrinth of isolated, cool, dark cellars beneath, ensuring that the wines finally acquire their distinct and exquisite flavour. You will have a full private tour, with a resident wine expert, of the facilities at this awe-inspiring winery, followed by a tasting of their very best wines, in the company of their in house wine specialist.

You will enjoy a fantastic lunch at the winery with their own country fare produce, local meats and sausages, cheeses and breads, and of course some great wine.

After lunch, you are free to spend your time just as you wish. We suggest a visit to the nearby, and the most chic of coastal towns on the Costa Brava, Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc. Starting first at a light house near a quaint Mediterranean seaside inn with a sunny outdoor terrace, you could enjoy an aperitif aswell as the view and sea breeze. There are plenty of scenic walks to explore the area and picturesque ocean front spots to see as well.

Or, maybe you would prefer to visit the local well preserved Medieval villages of Pals and Peratallada. Here, you will step back in time as you wander the narrow cobblestone streets and peruse the artisan shops retailing crafts of Olde Worlde days.

In a Nutshell: Private Guided tour of Emporda Winery with wine tasting; Visits to medieval villages;Overnight in the Emporda region

DAY 6 CADAQUES

Thanks to a breakfast fit for royalty at the castle, you will be ready for a morning exploring the picturesque fishermens village of Cadaques. The town is known for its breathtaking beauty and history of famous Bohemian artists, including Salvador Dali. You will notice the artistic influence on this town as it is apparent in the lingering feel of the laidback and creative atmosphere. You will visit the summer seaside home of Dali, complete with his works and arrangement of rooms, where you can have a glimpse into his life. Next, you may, if you wish, follow his footsteps as you could have a delightful lunch in one of the charming local haunts of the artist. The fresh fish and seafood of this seaside village will be enjoyed in the same places in which the locals eat. You will experience the atmosphere of this town in an authentic way as you try a few of the locals favorite seafood dishes.

May we suggest you now drive to the mountains overlooking Port de la Selva where the view to the sea will take your breath away with its magnificence. You will see the imposing Sant Pere de Rodes Benedictine Monastry, constructed in the hillside below the ruins of the castle of Sant de Verdera that gave protection for the monastery. Dating from the 10th century AD, it is a prime example of the Catalan-Roman era.

After your busy day, you will surely enjoy a relaxing evening at your hotel and perhaps have dinner in the hotel restaurant or at one of the local restaurants.

In a Nutshell: Visit to Cadaques and the Dali House/Museum, Overnight in the Emporda Region

DAY 7 CARCASSONNE

Today, after breakfast, you will check out of your fairytale residence and leave for Carcassonne, in France, (a drive of approximately 2 hours). On the way you may like to visit the spectacular castle of Peyrepertuse, the largest of the famous medieval cathar castles, and relatively well-preserved. The views across Languedoc are spectacular, with sister castle Queribus, the Pyrenees and even the Mediterranean, clearly visible.

Finally, you will arrive at Carcassonne - a perfectly restored, medieval walled fortress town which sits majestically above the River Aude and Canal du Midi. Carcassonne has an entire city that is a castle, in La Cite, the fortified upper city; it is an excellent example of a medieval fortified town whose massive defences were constructed on walls dating from Late Antiquity. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, browsing shops selling Medieval wares and try the classic peasant stew cassoullet at on of the many cafes.

Tonight you will stay at a lovely hotel, overlooking Carcassonne with its castle and drawbridge, nestled in greenery, offering you a haven of tranquility where you can recharge your batteries after your journey, even though it is only a 5 minute walk away from the main monuments and ideal for discovering the city and all its secrets. We have many restaurant suggestions for tonight.

In a Nutshell: Visits to Peyrepertuse and Carcassonne; Overnight in a charming 4* Chateau Hotel in Carcassonne

DAY 8 TOULOUSE & BIARRITZ

This morning, after breakfast, you will leave behind the walled castle of Carcassonne and travel to Toulouse - called the Ville Rose ("Pink City") of France and the capital of good life. Toulouse is an absolute must for everyone wanting to explore France - the cosmopolitan and enthusiastic Ville Rose joyously mixes heritage and lifestyle, great cultural events, chic boutiques and very typically French cafes on many of it's beautiful squares. You are bound to be seduced by the incomparable Toulousain lifestyle!

Your journey now leads you to Biarritz which has long made its fortune from the sea: as a whaling settlement from the twelfth century onwards, in the 18th century doctors recommended that the ocean at Biarritz had therapeutic properties, inspiring patients to make pilgrimages to the beach for alleged cures for their ailments. Biarritz became more renowned in 1854 when Empress Eugenie (the wife of Napoleon III) built a palace on the beach (now the Hotel du Palais). The British royal family regularly took vacations in Biarritz: European royalty such as Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and Alfonso XIII of Spain were frequent visitors. Biarritz's casino (opened 10 August 1901) and beaches make the town a notable tourist centre for Europeans. Having toured the town and perhaps relaxed on the front overlooking the sea and "taken tea" or enjoyed a cool, long drink, your journey continues with a short drive to San Sebastian, where you will check into your 4* boutique hotel, with views over the Concha Bay, and be able to relax after your long day and maybe take dinner in the hotel.

In a Nutshell: Visit Toulouse, Visit Biarritz, Overnight in a 4* Boutique Hotel in San Sebastian

DAY 9 SAN SEBASTIAN

This morning your officially licensed guide will await you and together you will experience a private gourmet & cultural tour of San Sebastian, its wonderful "beach in the city"; renowned as the best city to eat in Spain (if not the world!) The city of San Sebastian spreads around the famous La Concha beach, whilst inland are the beautiful green mountain landscapes of Guipuzcoa of which San Sebastian is the provincial capital.

Your guide will show you around all the most interesting parts of the city where you will be privileged not only to go to the best bars, frequented by local foodies, but also to sample the specialities of each place, accompanied by the best Txacoli wine. Although tapas were invented in Andalucia they became perfected in San Sebastian and here are known as Pinchos (written as Pintxos in the Basque language). Each bar is bursting with so many different and creative pinchos and in true Spanish tradition enjoy one or two pinchos at the bar and then move onto the next!

In the afternoon, you might wish to further explore San Sebastian on your own. Of course, your private San Sebastian guide will give you many suggestions of interesting things to see and do in your free time. The Old Town of San Sebastian is bordered by three natural elements: The Urgull Mountain (Monte), the Urumea River and The Concha Bay, so great for taking a walk. The town itself is surrounded by three mountains that have protected all the beautifulness of the city for centuries. The Urgell, Igueldo and Ullia Mountains are ideal for hiking up to the hill tops to appreciate the views. At the top of Monte Urgull you will also see the remains of the walls and canons from the city's military past and, guarding the city, stands the Sacred Heart statue (Cristo de la Mota). It's no Rio de Janeiro but this giant statue of Christ measures over 12 meters. On the other side of San Sebastian there is Mount Igueldo where the best way to get to the top is by using the funicular railway which has been operating since 1912 and is the oldest in the Basque Country.

This evening, why not re-visit some of the authentic tapas bars you visited with your guide, or you may wish to fine dine in style at one of the World Famous Michelin 3* Restaurants of the area - Akelarre, Arzak or Martin Berasategui - for which prior reservations are necessary and we will be delighted to assist with a booking.

In a Nutshell: Private Guided Tour of San Sebastian with tapas hopping; Overnight in San Sebastian

DAY 10 BILBAO

This morning after breakfast, you will leave for Bilbao, just 1 h drive from San Sebastian, to visit the famous Guggenheim Museum, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. This museum, of modern and contemporary art, features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists. The curves on the building were designed to appear random and the architect has been quoted as saying that "the randomness of the curves are designed to catch the light". When it was opened to the public in 1997, it was immediately hailed as one of the world's most spectacular buildings in the style of Deconstructivism, although Gehry does not associate himself with that architectural movement. Architect Philip Johnson called it "the greatest building of our time".

If you want to spend some more time in the city after the museum, in the Old Quarter you can relive Medieval Bilbao, with its cobbled streets, charming corners and squares, which have witnessed the port's hustle and bustle that made the Village grow. Its walls, Saint James's Gothic Cathedral, the Plaza Nueva (New Square), the emblematic San Anton Church and the ancient ruins it was built on, and the busy Mercado de la Ribera (Seaside Market) account for more than 500 years of history and an urban life not affected by the passing of time.

We have plenty of suggestions for lunch venues in Bilbao. If you would like to enjoy some more Basque tapas, Bilbao style, we will be delighted to share with you our favorite tapas bars route in the Old Town.

In a Nutshell: Bilbao Guggenheim Museum visit, Overnight in San Sebastian

DAY 11 LA RIOJA

Early this morning, after breakfast, you will leave for La Rioja wine region (an approximate 2 hour journey). You will arrive in Laguardia, which is one of the most perfectly preserved medieval villages in Spain. Laguardia is a medieval hill hamlet (called "villa" in Spanish), reminiscent of Tuscan hilltop villages. It is surrounded by an ancient wall, and has a delightful jumble of cobblestoned streets lined with "Tabernas", wine shops, palaces, and cafes. Laguardia was founded in the year 1164 by King Sancho Abarca, and the spectacularly preserved wall dates back to the 15th century.

A private guided tour has been arranged for you at a fantastic winery which stands out among the underground cellars. This unique cellar elaborates its wines in a traditional way where 2,000 pitchers of wine (32,000 litres) are elaborated annually after treading the grapes as in ancient times. You will have a full tour of the cellars and a tasting of their best wines to follow. We are sure you will enjoy a late lunch in this delightful hamlet before continuing your journey towards Barcelona, where you will rest for the night in a modern and comfortable 4* hotel with views of the Montserrat mountains, approximately 50 minutes from Barcelona Airport.

In a Nutshell: Visit to Laguardia in La Rioja Wine Region, Private Guided Visit to a unique Riojan Winery with wine tasting, Overnight in a 4* delightful hotel in the country outside of Barcelona

DAY 12 DEPARTURE

Following a wonderful night's sleep, after your journey from La Rioja region, we hope you will enjoy a relaxed and leisurely breakfast before checking out of your hotel and departing for Barcelona Airport, where you will hand over your car at the car rental office before catching a flight to your next destination.

We hope you will join us for this private tour and look forward to assisting you in every way possible to make this Luxury Private Food, Wine & Cultural Tour one which you will remember for years to come!

In a Nutshell: Return to Barcelona, rental car drop off

This tour may be extended, for example, to 14 (fourteen) days by including one night in Toulouse, the "pink city" and an additional night in La Rioja wine region, including a further winery visit, prior to return to Barcelona. 

Your tour includes:

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights in a boutique 4* palace hotel in the Barcelona Gothic Quarter, at the seafront (port view room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodations for three (3) nights in a luxurious,authentic, 4* medieval stone castle hotel in Emporda countryside (castle room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for one (1) night at a delightful hotel in Carcassonne (deluxe room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights in a 4* boutique hotel with views over the Concha Bay in San Sebastian (seaview room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for one (1) night in an exceedingly comfortable 4* hotel in the country around 45/50 minutes from Barcelona Airport (premium room, double occupancy)

  • Eleven (11) full breakfasts

  • Provision of a luxury rental car (Mercedes E, Audi A4 or similar) with automatic transmission and GPS for the days as stated in your itinerary

  • Assistance of an experienced excellent bilingual Officially Licensed Guide, as indicated in the tour itinerary

  • All the culinary, cultural visits and gourmet food and wine tastings indicated in the itinerary

  • Online Personal Travel Webpage including daily itinerary, general local information, details of places of interest, suggestions for restaurant reservations, and your free time, etc.

  • Handy elegant Personal Travel Journal, which includes the extended information from your Personal Travel Website, that you can take with you as you go and keep as a souvenir to look back on.

  • 24/7 Back Office Assistance

Your tour does not include:

  • Flights

  • Meals and drinks not stated in the itinerary

  • Personal expenses such as telephone, minibar, etc.

  • Tips and gratuities at restaurants etc. at your discretion, NOT obligatory

  • Travel Insurance may be included in your quotation on request. We strongly recommend you to take out separate cancellation insurance.

Prices:

Please note our tours are available for PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY and are not scheduled mixed group tours. Price is available upon request and varies depending on the number of guests and time of year. Feel free to contact us for your personal quote