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SPAIN & FRANCE

Very Best of Northern Spain & SW France

Luxury Food, Wine & Cultural Tour

Description

Experience quality 5* Spanish & French luxury and style on this gourmet tour as you travel from cosmopolitan cities to medieval villages and visit prestigious wineries to enjoy unique wine tastings. On this fully chauffeured luxury vacation, prepare to be pampered with the finest of Michelin 3* dining options, cultural excursions and exquisite 5* accommodations. You will see authentic Spanish living and the diversity of this rich region with all of the comforts afforded by the wine spas, private guided tours and excellent service you relish on vacation. Whether you are exploring Antoni Gaudi's architecture, taking a gourmet walking tour of San Sebastian, sipping fine wine in a prestigious winery in La Rioja, visiting a castle in Carcassonne or dining in fantastic Michelin 3* restaurants,  you will appreciate the customized attention, exceptional quality and luxurious touch that is the essence of this magnificent exclusive tour.

DAY 1 BARCELONA

Your Chauffeur will meet you on arrival at Barcelona Airport and whisk you away to your beautiful hotel, a 5-star grand luxury hotel in the fashionable Eixample district of Barcelona! The hotel, a restored 19th century landmark designed by Spanish architect Luis Domenech i Montaner, provides a world-class combination of modern luxurious accommodations and superb panoramic views of downtown Barcelona. The elegant staircases and high ceilings are reminiscent of times passed by and exude uniqueness and exclusivity. We look for nothing less in a luxury vacation escape!

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 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.

We have many restaurant recommendations and would be delighted to arrange your bookings. The night provides the opportunity to get acquainted with your hotel and to venture out into the city if you wish!

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured Airport Transfer, Overnight in 5* Luxury Hotel Barcelona

DAY 2 BARCELONA

This morning, after a delicious breakfast, you will meet your personal private Officially Licensed Guide for a visit to La Boqueria, Spain's most important, and world-famous, marketplace. It offers the absolute freshest and most diverse selection of produce. At the market, you will visit the famous bar where in-the-know celebrities of Barcelona frequent. Here you will try the best aperitifs, perhaps a reserve cava (Spanish champagne) and sample some of the finest products of the marketplace!

Next, you will traverse the city on a gourmet walking tour through the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, home to an abundance of tucked away gourmet cafes and shops. You will see a few architectural feats as well, including the amazing Gothic Santa Maria Church. You will take the path of Picasso on the famous Avignon Street and taste fresh Spanish cheeses paired with quality wines at a charming local specialized shop in the fashionable port district. For something sweet, we will stop into the oldest venue in Barcelona for dried nuts, fruits, coffee and toasted almonds where you will sample some of their nuts and fruits.

Your light lunch of exquisite delicatessen produce will include Spain's best Iberic bellota ham, Joselito, fine cold meats and sausages, the finest wild tuna, anchovies, clams from Galicia, a selection of the best Spanish olive oils, cheeses, salads, etc., all enjoyed at one of the best delicatessens in Barcelona. Wine wise, you will be in very good hands, with English speaking sommeliers, to guide you through more than 6000 wines. Your private guide will leave you at the finale of your tour when you are settled safely into this amazing delicatessen enjoying your meal.

Surely after this day of activity you will welcome the Spanish siesta time and relish a free evening on your own. Your expert guide will be happy to provide a lot of suggestions for really good places to eat, cafes, shops, etc.

In a Nutshell: Private gourmet and cultural walking tour of Barcelona's Gothic quarter including Gourmet Food and Wine tastings and a fine delicatessen lunch, Overnight Barcelona

DAY 3 BARCELONA

This morning, after a delicious breakfast, you are as free as you please to enjoy Barcelona. You will have have acquired many suggestions for visiting different areas of Barcelona from yesterday's guide.

Alternatively, we could arrange a Private Guided Gaudi Route tour for you, where your experienced Officially Licensed guide will await you after breakfast and you will leave to visit the incredible La Sagrada Familia, a work on a grand scale which began in 1882. At the end of 1883 Gaudi 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. Throughout Gaudi's work, you will see much of his architectural inspiration came from his experiences in nature. Gaudi is the city's most internationally renowned and emblematic architect.

Continuing your morning on the Gaudi route, you will head to the Passeig de Gracia area, where you will enjoy a walking tour of other famous works of Gaudi, including his famous Casa Batllo and La Pedrera. For a mid morning pick me up your guide will lead you to a sophisticated and fashionable gourmet chocolate boutique to sample the city's finest chocolates with a glass of cava. Many of these chocolate recipes were created by Albert Adria, the dessert chef of famous restaurant El Bulli, and the brother of the most famous chef in Spain, Ferran Adria. You will then visit Gaudi's famous La Pedrera 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.

This afternoon you will be free to discover the lively city of Barcelona on your own. We have many suggestions for restaurants which will suit your mood of the moment.

In a Nutshell: Free day in Barcelona or OPTIONAL Private Guided Barcelona Gaudi Tour, Overnight Barcelona

DAY 4 GIRONA & BESALU

This morning, you will check out of your Barcelona city hotel and your Chauffeur will drive you to Girona where your private Officially Licensed guide will be waiting to escort you through this romantic city. Girona is a little city with a big heart, enchanted by stretches of cobblestone streets, the old Jewish Quarter with its luscious gardens, and the magnificent cathedral affording a great view of the area. You will wind through the narrow streets and stoned walls of the old Gothic Quarter and encounter little shops, cafes and medieval homes that families have passed down through the generations. In the old town, you will discover a magnificent cathedral with the widest Gothic nave in all of Europe. You can meander through the famed Jewish Quarter, where each winding narrow street brings quaint and specialized shops to discover.

You will now leave with your chauffeur & guide for a visit to the medieval town of Besalu, former seat of the counts of the same name, which is a magnificent historic-artistic site, renowned for its beauty and the 11th century Roman bridge that once was necessary to adjoin this small village to land. The strategic situation between the Rivers Fluvia and Capellades, on the boundary of three counties, granted Besalu an important role in the history of Catalonia. You will visit the ruins of the Jewish quarter of Besalu, dating back to the 9th century and the mikvah or Jewish ritual bathhouse, dating from the 12th century, which is the only one of its kind discovered in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the few known in Europe. The local public gardens await you where villagers grow herbs 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.

OPTIONAL Afterwards your Chauffeur will drive you to the outskirts of Girona for lunch at the famous Michelin 3* Celler de Can Roca, voted the best restaurant in the world in 2013 and 2015 by the prestigious Restaurant Magazine. Owned by three local Catalan brothers, Joan, Josep and Jordi, local recipes are the inspiration for the exquisite dishes served here, from delectable parfaits to the most appreciated wild mushroom souffle. The enthusiasm and creativity of Chef Joan in his cooking is only matched by sommelier Josep's expertise at pairing the perfect wines with your dinner. Both are complemented by the youngest brother, Jordi, and his delightful desserts. From aperitif to dessert, you will remember this gourmet experience for years to come! Celler de can Roca is booked up months ahead, but we will be delighted to get you high on the waiting list, which far exceeds the capacity of this Michelin 3* restaurant.

Now you can sit back in your comfortable car whilst your chauffeur transfers you to your new home, a luxury 5-star hotel and spa, located in a Catalan villa picturesquely surrounded by country landscape, indoor and outdoor pools, fine dining and complete spa amenities. Surely following this very busy day you will enjoy a quiet evening at your hotel, perhaps a visit to the spa or a glass of wine on the terrace, the choices are yours.

In a Nutshell: Private Guided Tour of Girona and Besalu, Overnight in 5* Spa Hotel in the Emporda region

DAY 5 CADAQUES

Today, following breakfast, your Chauffeur will be waiting to take you to Cadaques. The town is known for its breathtaking beauty and its history of famous Bohemian artists, including the master of surrealism, Salvador Dali. You will notice the laid-back and creative atmosphere lingering in this town from the long influence of artists.

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 will follow in his footsteps, as you enjoy a delightful lunch in one of the small charming local seaside haunts of the artist. You will experience the atmosphere of this town in an authentic way as you try a few of the locals favorite seafood dishes.

After lunch, you will cross through the natural park of Cap de Creus to a lighthouse on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean. This point is the first place in Spain where the sun's rays shine every morning. But rather than waking up at dawn to see this, we will visit Cap de Creus for the impressive and romantic views of the Mediterranean. Your chauffeur will now drive you 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 on the hillside below the ruins of the castle of Sant de Verdera that gave protection to 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 dinner in the hotel restaurant or at one of the local restaurants.

In a Nutshell: Day in Cadaques, Visit to Salvador Dali Seaside Home, Visit to Sant Pere de Rodes Benedictine Monastry, Overnight Emporda

DAY 6 CARCASSONNE & TOULOUSE

Today, you will leave with your chauffeur for Carcassonne in France (a drive of approximately 2 hours). On the way you might wish to stop at 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 defenses were constructed on walls dating from Late Antiquity. Stroll along the cobblestone streets and browse the numerous small shops. OPTIONAL For lunch you could visit the 3 star Michelin Restaurant l'Auberge du Vieux Puits, hidden in the sleepy village of Fontjoncouse. In the rustic dining room with stone floor and exposed beams overhead, this restaurant has the feel of a simple country locale rather than a formal temple of gastronomy but that it certainly is and you will enjoy a delicious tasting meal with wines.

Your day continues and (time permitting), you will stop in Toulouse where you will have a short visit to this famous Ville Rose ("Pink City") of France and the capital of good life. 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!

Finally you will arrive to Biarritz where you will check into your superb 19th century palace hotel, with wonderful views of the ocean. May we suggest that after such a very long day you relax this evening, and perhaps enjoy a light dinner in the hotel's restaurant. However should you wish to enjoy the high life, why not visit the incredible Biarritz Casino (opened 10th of August 1901) and try your luck at the tables!

In a Nutshell: Peyrepertuse Castle, Carcassonne & Castle, Toulouse (time permitting), Overnight in 5* Palace Hotel in Biarritz

DAY 7 BIARRITZ & SAN SEBASTIAN

After breakfast this morning you will have a good chance to visit Biarritz. European royalty such as Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and also Alfonso XIII of Spain were frequent visitors to Biarritz. One of many Royal visitors would set off starting with the battle cry: 'Chill the champagne, pack the pearls and tune up the Bugatti.' Biarritz offers one of the most attractive seaside saunters in France. The famous old promenade along the Grande Plage leads past the Casino Barriere, with a fine art deco ceiling and floor, the peaceful old square Place Ste-Eugenie and the Museum of the Sea, with its handsome facade and shark-feeding sessions. Having toured the town and perhaps relaxed on the front overlooking the sea, your journey continues with a short drive to San Sebastian with your chauffeur.

You will check into your fantastic 5* hotel and have a chance to have a light bite and siesta prior to your evening's activities. In the early evening your experienced Officially Licensed, Local, Guide will be waiting for you and you will leave for a tour of San Sebastian and its wonderful "beach in the city" vibe, famous as the best city to eat in Spain! Your Officially Licensed guide will show you around all the most interesting parts of the city, prior to leading you to the tapas area, where you will be privileged not only to go to the best bars, frequented by local foodies, but also to sample the specialties of each place. Although tapas were invented in Andalusia they became perfected in San Sebastian! Each bar is bursting with many different tapas and the Spanish tradition suggests to have one or two tapas and a wine in one bar and move on to the next bar. For sure you will try a glass ( or two...) of the best local Txakoli wine!

In a Nushell: Visit to Biarritz, Private guided visit to San Sebastian and Basque Food & Drink tapas hopping, Overnight in 5* luxury Hotel in San Sebastian

DAY 8 BILBAO

Today, following a relaxed breakfast, your Chauffeur will drive you to Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim Museum. Should you require a Private Guide for your museum visit we will happily arrange this for you. The Guggenheim is a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. The museum features permanent and visiting exhibits of works by Spanish and international artists. The curves on the building were designed to appear random. 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".

You will follow your museum visit with an OPTIONAL exquisite tasting menu luncheon with wines at the acclaimed 1 star Michelin Guggenheim Restaurant, Nerua, run by the talented young chef Josean Alija - a unique memorable experience!

Afterwards, your chauffeur will be waiting to take you to the medieval fishing village of Getaria which nestles in a stunning bay on the wild and dramatic coastline of northern Spain. Here, you will visit a prestigious Txacoli Winery, followed by a tasting of this very different wine. Getaria is most famous not only for Txacoli, but also for fish and seafood of the best quality, which is mainly cooked simply on a parrilla, or barbecue.

This evening if you wish, you will have an opportunity to taste some of this fare as we can arrange for you to have dinner at the best restaurant in Getaria and enjoy the fish and seafood of your choice, paired with local wines.

In a Nutshell: Visit to the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, Txacoli Winery Visit, Overnight San Sebastian

DAY 9 SAN SEBASTIAN

Today you are free to discover San Sebastian at your leisure. Your private guide will of course give you many suggestions of interesting things to see and do and there is a lot of info in your Personal Travel Website too.

Optionally, you might wish to make a visit to Hondarribia, just a few kilometers from the French border, high in the mountains. The old town of Hondarribia is surrounded by a 15th century wall and is entered through the Puerta de Santa Maria gateway which looks like a tiny castle. In the old town, above the harbor, you can wander through the narrow cobbled streets flanked by old houses with intricately carved wooden balconies. Hondarribia's 10th century castle, the Palacio de Carlos Quinto, is now a fabulous looking parador, which dominates the top of the old town. The huge church of Santa Maria de la Asuncion is built in Gothic style. The buildings are a real delight.

Find the lovely sunny squares and stop and pass some time in one of the street cafes; maybe have a light lunch - this is a day for relaxing! However, should you wish to visit other villages in this very pretty area, your chauffeur will be at your service.

The rest of your afternoon is free and on your return to San Sebastian you may wish to take a siesta prior to preparing for your OPTIONAL dinner at Michelin 3 starred Akelarre, run by the prestigious chef Pedro Subijana. His famous tasting menus have been developed with culinary awareness, balance and are constantly being updated with his latest innovations, utilizing the finest seasonal products.

In a Nutshell: OPTIONAL Visit to Hondarribia, Overnight San Sebastian

DAY 10 LA RIOJA

This morning, you will check out of your San Sebastian hotel and leave with your chauffeur for a drive into the La Rioja Wine Region of Spain. Here you will visit one of the most perfectly preserved medieval villages in Spain, located right in the midst of La Rioja wine country. This medieval hill hamlet is surrounded by an ancient wall and there is a melee of cobble-stoned streets lined with "Tabernas", wine shops, palaces, and cafes. The entire village became protected as Patrimony of Spain in 1964.

Continuing your day you will arrive at your exceptional luxury 5* Hotel, a magnificent new building designed by Frank Gehry. Like the Guggenheim Museum, the building designed by Gehry is covered with titanium. In this case, however, the architect wanted to infuse his work with the signature colors of the wine producing owners: pink like the wine, gold like the mesh on the bottles and silver like the bottle top.

After check in you may wish to have lunch in the very dramatic hotel restaurant and take time to rest a little prior to, if you wish, visiting the very famous Marques de Riscal Winery, which was founded in 1860 and was one of the first in the region to use French wine-making techniques. As one of the oldest wineries in La Rioja, Marques de Riscal produces some of the country's most flavorful wines and always commits itself to continuous improvement of quality and technique. You will sample some of the vineyard's best wines after a tour of the vineyard and the cellar with the in-house oenologist. Relax this evening after your eventful day and perhaps you may wish to use the spa facilities prior to a light dinner either at a local restaurant or indeed, at your hotel.

In a Nutshell: Laguardia visit, Marques de Riscal Winery Visit, Overnight in 5* Marques de Riscal Hotel in La Rioja

DAY 11 RIBERA DEL DUERO

After leisurely breakfast, you will leave with your chauffeur for the famous cradle of La Rioja wine and start with a guided visit to a unique, still family run winery. Proud of being old-fashioned, they still construct their own barrels on site and do not expect to see modern sophisticated machinery there, it is all done traditionally - and the wines are truly outstanding. You will have an excellent tour of the facilities finalized with a tasting in their rather modernly designed wine shop where you will sample their main wines.

Continuing your day, you will make a private visit to a nearby modern style La Rioja winery, founded less than 20 years ago by a Catalan couple. Here, you will enjoy a tasting of their wines, especially as we have included in your tasting experience one of the best wines in Spain. The owners of the winery also produce incredibly high quality extra virgin olive oils in the Emporda region and in Mallorca, which you will also have an opportunity to sample. For lunch you will stop at a local reputable hostelry and sample the delicious food of the La Rioja area, paired with wines.

You will then head to the largest Wine Museum in Spain, containing multimedia information on everything from corks, and how they are made, to the blowing of bottles. Time permitting you will also be able to visit a little medieval village with some marvelous churches and ruins dating from the 16th Century.

Your day continues with a drive through the countryside to Ribera Del Duero Wine region where you will check into your luxury 5* hotel for the night, one of the world's most exclusive wine hotels - the perfect luxury retreat. We suggest you dine tonight at your hotel, where the gourmet chef reinvents classic Spanish cuisine. Seasonal produce in recipes based on regional traditions are enhanced with contemporary culinary ingenuity.

In a Nutshell: Guided Visits to Two prestigious Wineries with tastings, Briones Wine Museum, Overnight in 5* Abbey Wine Hotel in Ribera del Duero

DAY 12 RIBERA DEL DUERO

After breakfast this morning, you will have a full private visit to your hotel prestigious winery. Located at the heart of the Spanish winegrowing Golden Mile, this cellar owns over 200 hectares of vineyard and is one of Spain's most modern wineries. After your unforgettable visit, you will have a pleasure to enjoy a full tasting of their best wines, which are the fruit of the excellent maturity obtained along the unique terroir created by the Duero River and the valley's extreme climatic conditions.

Next, you will leave with your chauffeur for Pesquera de Duero, where you will enjoy a private guided visit to another famous winery, that has links to three generations of winemakers and is family owned with an impressive range of wines. Currently, they have 200 hectares of their own vineyards, planted and grafted with the excellent clone recovered from their oldest hundred year old vines.

You will lunch locally at a 16th Century Mill Restaurant, famous for "asados" (roasts) and local fresh produce for typical local food. Served, of course with great local wine. Your journey continues to Penafiel, where perched on a cliff above the city, and the Duero, stands the impressive Penafiel Castle. The castle was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt several times, the walls and towers were constructed in the 13th-14th centuries, the keep is from the 15th. It has a double defensive wall. They take wine-making seriously here, so what better place to locate the museum of wine. The museum has been inserted into one of the finger like courtyards of the castle over three floors. This place is really worth a visit! May we suggest you dine at your hotel tonight or at a good local restaurant.

In a Nutshell: Private visits to two prestigious Wineries with tastings, Penafiel Castle & Museum, Overnight in Ribera del Duero

DAY 13 BARCELONA

This morning you will leave with your chauffeur for Barcelona.

On arrival in Barcelona you will check into your luxury hotel in the Eixample District and the rest of your day will be free to do a little last minute shopping, take a stroll along the Ramblas, enjoy a farewell seafood meal in the Harbour, the choice is yours. We have many suggestions for you to enjoy a farewell meal this evening in Barcelona.

In a Nutshell: Free Time in Barcelona, Overnight in 5* Luxury Hotel in Barcelona

DAY 14 DEPARTURE

Your tour concludes with a lovely breakfast at your hotel, followed by a chauffeured transfer to Barcelona airport for your onward journey home.

We very much hope you will join us for this unforgettable wine, food and cultural adventure!

In a Nutshell:Chauffeured transfer to Barcelona Airport

Your tour includes:

  • Accommodation for four (4) nights in a 5* luxury hotel in the Eixample District of Central Barcelona (double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for two (2) nights in a 5* villa & spa hotel in the Emporda Region of Northern Catalonia (double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for one (1) night at a 5* palace hotel and spa in Biarritz (double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights at a luxury 5* hotel in San Sebastian (double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for one (1) night at 5* Marques de Riscal Hotel in the heart of La Rioja (double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for two (2) nights at a 5* exclusive converted abbey wine hotel in Ribiera del Duero (double occupancy)

  • Thirteen (13) full breakfasts

  • Chauffeured transfers in a luxury vehicle, as indicated in the itinerary

  • Assistance of bi-lingual Officially Licensed Guide as noted in the itinerary

  • Officially Licensed Bi-Lingual In-House guides at the wineries as stated in the itinerary

  • All the meals, culinary, cultural visits and tastings as indicated in the itinerary

  • All the prestigious winery visits with a sampling of their best wines to follow, as stated

  • 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