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SPAIN, PORTUGAL & FRANCE

Jewish Heritage of Portugal, Spain & SW France

Luxury Food, Wine & Cultural Tour

Description

A fascinating private tour covering some of the main Jewish heritage sights in Portugal, Spain and SW France.  Starting from Lisbon you will head to Evora and then on to Spain. After the history of Seville and Cordoba your journey takes you to Toledo, Barcelona, Girona and Besalu before heading to SW France. In Narbonne, Toulouse and Bordeaux the Jewish Heritage is less noticeable but not less interesting. This 18 day tour takes you to 3 countries and you will be chauffeur driven or take the high speed train (for which we will provide the tickets) between destinations - leaving you free to make the most of your time and not worry about self-driving.

DAY 1 LISBON

On arrival at Lisbon Airport your private chauffeur will be waiting for you and will transfer you in a luxury vehicle to your hotel. You will check into your genuine Art Deco 4* Boutique Hotel in the center of Lisbon which echoes the glamour of the 1940's. Classified as a historic building, this small and unique hotel is located on a quiet street right alongside the cosmopolitan Avenida da Liberdade. We are sure you will be tired after your journey, but a short siesta is the answer before you start to get acquainted with this fabulous city.

If San Francisco had a sister, it would be Lisbon. Both cities have twin bridges and famously foggy weather. Both are situated on the best natural harbors on the west coast of their respective continents. Both have trolleys rattling up and down their steep hills past characteristic buildings. And both have survived horrific earthquakes. In 1755, an estimated 9.0 earthquake leveled two-thirds of Lisbon. Within a month, a new city was designed, and downtown Lisbon was rebuilt on a progressive grid plan, with broad boulevards and square squares. Today, Lisbon is a charming mix of old and new. Bird-stained statues mark grand plazas, taxis screech around cobbled corners and the hip and trendy hang out in Art Nouveau cafes. Just like it did during the days of Magellan and Vasco da Gama, the city continues to welcome ships into its large port. Even today, Lisbon still feels like Europe's gateway to the world. We can recommend many restaurants in Lisbon for you to discover some local Portuguese cuisine this evening!

In a Nutshell: Private Chauffeured Transfer from Lisbon Airport to hotel, Overnight in a genuine Art Deco 4* Boutique Hotel in the center of Lisbon

DAY 2 LISBON

This morning, after breakfast, your officially licensed private guide will meet you in the hotel lobby and you will leave for a complete Private Gourmet and Historical Tour of Lisbon to include the Jewish sites.

You will discover delicious local products and learn the history of Portugal’s great capital, be introduced to the Portuguese culture, Lisbon’s Jewish Heritage and the local cuisine with its incredible mix of Mediterranean tradition and exotic influences from all corners of the World.

Your private tour of Lisbon will start with a visit to the emblematic St George's Castle, renamed after conquering the Moors, where you will be able to take in the impressive views over the sea. Within the walls of the Castle you will stop at a friendly Cafe for your first Portuguese tasting of the day where you may like to try Ginginha, the famous Portuguese Cherry Liqueur, have a glass of Portugal's famous fortified wine Port or join Portugal's strong cafe culture with an aromatic coffee.

Leading down from the castle to the river, you will then cross the Alfama, Lisbon's salty sailors' quarter. Its tangled street plan is one of the few parts of Lisbon to survive the big quake, making the Alfama a cobbled playground of Old World color. Next it is on to the Baixa and Chiado districts where there are many well-known cafes to enjoy another stop for a coffee and a typical Portuguese cake. Onward now to the Baixa- Pombalina area where there were once two important Jewish quarters: the Judiaria Grande, close to the present-day church of Sao Nicolau, and the Judiaria Pequena, created during the reign of Dom Dinis (1279-1325).

The Jews of Portugal throughout history held social and political ranks with the favor of kings, and conciliatory relations between Muslims and Christians alike. However, these periods were equally marked by inquisitions, forced baptisms and brutal massacres. Heading then to Rossio, and the sad history of Rossio Square, you will hear about the Court of the Inquisition held in the Palacio dos Estaus. Thousands of Jews were mercilessly burned at the stake in the massacres of 1506 in this square.

From here you will head to Praca do Comercio - Commerce Square - a vast waterfront place, the epicenter of major events in Portugals Jewish history, where the royal palace stood until the 1755 Great Earthquake. Here you will sample authentic Portuguese Beer and taste the delicious cod cakes. Your tour of Lisbon would not be complete without including Vinho Verde do Minho (the famous green wine of Minho) and you will able to enjoy a glass accompanied with Azeitao cheese, spicy chorizo sausage and delicious bread.

You will then head to the Belem area of Lisbon where many of the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their voyages of discovery. You will learn about and see the Torre de Belem (Belem Tower) - built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor - used as a starting point for many of the voyages of discovery and thus the last sight for the sailors of their homeland. Here also you will also be able to appreciate the Monument to the Discoveries and the church of Jeronimos. A delightful lunch awaits you in Belem, at the Pasteis de Belem factory, where, besides the best custard tarts in the country since 1837, you will be able to enjoy a choice of delicious sandwiches.

Your private guide will arrange a taxi back to your hotel for you but not before providing you with many personalized suggestions for the rest of your time in Lisbon.

In a Nutshell: Private Gourmet and Historical Tour of Lisbon, Belem and the Jewish Heritage, Overnight Lisbon

DAY 3 LISBON

Today is a free day in Lisbon to do as you wish - perhaps you will want to have a wander and try some more local cheeses, ports or wines or make a visit to the Port Wine Institute, where you can sample a selection of ports - wander around the Alfama district and find a little local cafe for a port or two, or alternatively, just take it easy for the rest of the day, sip a glass of good Portuguese wine and watch the world go by.

Your Lisbon guide will have given you many ideas on further sightseeing options within the Portuguese Capital. Maybe ride on the famous tram's which were originally called americanos, with the first operational route being inaugurated in 1873, or, visit the Santa Engracia church , which is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the church that took the longest time to construct: started in the 17th century, the last dome was completed in 1966.

Lisbon is also known as the town of seven hills which are comprised of, not surprisingly, the seven hills: Castelo, Graca, Monte, Penha de Franca, S.Pedro de Alcantara, Santa Catarina and Estrela. An uphill walk will be tiring but the views well worth it!

In a Nutshell: Free day in Lisbon, Overnight Lisbon

DAY 4 EVORA

Today you will be leaving Lisbon behind and your private chauffeur will be waiting to transfer you to the Portuguese Wine Region of Alentejo, a vast, sun-drenched area covering around a third of Portugal. Only five per cent of the land is planted with vines and between towns you can drive for miles passing cork and olive groves, vines, crops and grazing livestock.

You are heading to the walled city of Evora with a proud, rich and imposing past. The Romans were here, leaving their 1st century Temple behind, but so were the Moors who occupied the narrow streets with quaint small white washed houses. Evora is laid out over a gently sloping hill rising out of the huge Alentejo plain. It guards its historic centre with a vast outer wall and represents a valuable cultural legacy that UNESCO has classified World Heritage.

You will meet with your private guide in Evora for a walking tour of its historical center. You will visit the enigmatic church of St. Francis and its unique Chapel of the Bones. Then head through the narrow streets of the old town reaching the Giraldo square where the Inquisition once had its headquarters.

It was here, in Evora, that one of the largest Jewish communities existed up to the 15th century. The Judiaria had two synagogues, a hospital, a Midrash, baths and lively commerce. The Inquisition's Court in Evora however processed more than 9500 people for Judaism and in now, present day, you will see the former Court of the Inquisition still displays the cross with the sword and olive branch.

Along the way you will also enjoy some local food and wine tastings and a visit to the century old university courtyard. In the 16th century Evora thrived with culture and tradition in its university as much as it still does today and you will soon understand why Evora was once the second most important city of Portugal. You will also explore the millennium old Roman Temple and the 12th century cathedral.

You will be staying tonight on the outskirts of Evora, at an old convent that has been renovated and turned into a 5* luxury hotel. It was originally built and funded by one of the kings in Portugal as a place to come to escape Lisbon and have some quiet time. Nowadays, it is a superbly renovated hotel and spa with all the comforts you may desire so, this afternoon why not relax around the outdoor pool and enjoy a cocktail at the poolside bar or indulge in a relaxing spa treatment. The hotel provides a fascinating tour, for its guests at 5pm, where you can hear stories of the old convent building of the XV century.

In a Nutshell: Private guided visit to Evora with local tastings, Overnight in a renovated convent now a luxury 5* luxury hotel in Evora

DAY 5 SEVILLE

Today you will be leaving Portugal behind as you head to Spain. Remember that Spain is 1 hour ahead of Portugal so don't forget to put your watch forward the hour when you arrive in Spain. Your private chauffeur will be waiting to transfer you to Seville, to check in to your boutique 4* hotel situated in a delightful area, in the picturesque and authentic Barrio de Santa Cruz. This hotel is an attractive, converted manor house dating back to the 16th century. Take some time to relax after your journey and soak up the Seville atmosphere, you may wish to have a relaxed lunch, perhaps something typically Andalusian (much of the cuisine in Seville is influenced by the Moors) at one of the many restaurants around your hotel.

Then, this afternoon, your Officially Licensed Seville guide, additionally qualified in Jewish Heritage of Spain, will be waiting for you in the hotel reception and you will depart for a sightseeing tour, starting in the Barrio Santa Cruz, which is the old Jewish quarter.

Once King Ferdinand III of Castile conquered the city from Muslim rule in 1248, one of the largest Jewish communities in Spain came to Seville, second only to that of Toledo. After the Alhambra Decree of 1492 expelled the Jews from Spain in 1483, the neighborhood went downhill. In the 18th century, Barrio Santa Cruz underwent a major process of urban renewal, including the conversion of a former synagogue into the current Church of Saint Bartholomew. Just outside the neighborhood is the Iglesia de Santa Maria de las Nieves ("Church of Saint Mary of the Snows"), better known as the Iglesia de Santa Maria la Blanca ("Saint Mary the White"), a converted 14th century Mudejar synagogue.Relive the past as your guide recounts bygone days and you discover the history of Susanna Ben Suzon and visit the original wall and the synagogue-church of Santa Maria la Blanca. Seville was once the home to the Ritva and Abravanel families among others.

Your guide will lead you through the streets of Barrio Santa Cruz. It is a real joy to amble around its beautiful squares and narrow streets, which form a labyrinth, where it is easy to get lost, but this is part of its charm, because when one is lost, one may discover a convent or a palace or an hotel. The air in the barrio is perfumed by jasmine flowers and the orange trees that one finds there. Many of the palaces have wrought iron gates that allow one to peep into their beautiful patios. The area abounds in small stores and artisan shops, as well as good art galleries. With your guide, you will continue your walk through historic Seville, paying a visit to the Seville Cathedral, the oldest and most spectacular Gothic cathedral in the world and La Giralda tower which provides spectacular views of the city.

You will have worked up an appetite on this fascinating tour so your guide will lead you now to a tantalizingly delicious tapas dinner. Seville boasts more than 4,000 tapas bars - roughly 1 for every 200 locals so you know they know what they're talking about! Tapas hopping is part of Andalusian life and as you stop into some of the many foodie hot-spots you can try a variety of dishes that come freshly out of the kitchen. Plate after plate of hot and cold food appears on the bar to tempt your palate, so maybe try cold roasted pepper salad or anchovies in vinegar, a hot dish of meatballs in sauce or a slice of Potato Omelette.....the choice is yours. Of course, as is customary, you will accompany your mouth watering bites with a glass of dry Spanish Sherry and tastings of the local Finos.

In a Nutshell: Chauffeured transfer to Seville, private guided tour of Seville Jewish Heritage with local expert, tapas hopping, overnight at a beautiful 4* boutique hotel in the heart of Barrio Santa Cruz

DAY 6 SEVILLE

Today, after breakfast, you are as free as you please in Seville. Your guide will have given you many ideas and top tips for further sightseeing options and foodie hot spots to experience the best of Seville.

You might wish to visit the Reales Alcazares, the oldest royal palace in Europe and residence of the Spanish Royal Family when they stay in Seville. Maybe you would like to visit the Plaza De Espana and take a stroll in the Maria Luisa Park which are to the south of the center and for lunch why not continue to enjoy the fabulous Andalusian gastronomy!

In the evening prepare yourself to be wowed with a wonderful Gypsy Flamenco Show, where the swirling skirts and tapping heels of the dancers will excite and amaze the senses. You may wish to have a relaxed dinner, perhaps something typically Andalusian before or after the Flamenco Show for which we have several suggestions for a delightful dinner in the Barrio Santa Cruz or elsewhere in Seville.

In a Nutshell: Free Day in Seville, Gypsy Flamenco Show, Overnight Seville

DAY 7 CORDOBA

This morning you will take a taxi to Seville Railway Station and take a very comfortable high speed train to Cordoba, the former home of many Jewish scholars and poets. Awaiting you at Cordoba station will be our guide, who will take you on a complete tour of everything that Cordoba has to delight.

Jews formed a part of the cultural of Cordoba from as early as the 2nd Century until their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Once the biggest city in all of Europe, Cordoba thrived and expanded with its unique blend of cultures. These are beautifully expressed with a visit to Mezquita, the most significant Muslim architectural achievement in the Western world. This 8th century structure was first a church, then a mosque, and today has a cathedral oddly placed in its center. As a mosque, the building opened into a huge courtyard of orange trees. The Christians, in the dark middle ages, sealed the many exits to the courtyard and transformed the light and airy mosque into a dark and gloomy place. You can spend a long time wandering among the more than eight hundred pillars, literally a forest of colored marble, that grace the enormous hall

Afterwards, with your guide you will walk the street leading up to the Juderia (Cordoba Jewish Quarter), with its whitewashed houses and colorful courtyards and shops. The large Juderia of Cordoba is the best-known part of the historic center, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984 and is one of the largest in Europe. Jews formed a part of the cultural mix of Cordoba from as early as the 2nd Century until their expulsion from Spain in 1492. The narrow medieval streets of the Barrio de la Juderia retain their names to this day and although not Jewish in their current expression, a few signs hint of the Golden Age of Jewish life. In the Calle de los Judios note, for example, the statue of the great court doctor and Torah sage, Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon) and the tiny, gem-like Maimondes Synagogue, which is one of only three remaining synagogues in Spain from before the Expulsion of 1492. The Maimonides synagogue, built a hundred years after the great scholars death in Egypt, was named for him in commemoration of the fact that he was born only a few doors down the street. The meaning of the synagogue's cryptic inscriptions remains a mystery. The statue of Maimonides is located in front of the house where he was born, the most famous son of a city whose streets are lined with orange trees. There is not a word on the commemorative plaque explaining why Maimonides family left Cordoba; they were in fact fleeing the Almohad dynasty that forcibly imposed Islam on the Jews and Christians of the city. As you wander down picturesque and evocative streets in the restored heart of Cordoba, listening to our guide, a real expert on Cordoba Jewish Heritage, who will share with you many fascinating stories and anecdotes, it will not be difficult to imagine the days when Cordoba was one of the most important Jewish communities in Europe

Your guide will then take you to some local taverns to savour some typical Cordobese tapas. A Tavern in Cordoba used to be a place where the local people could go to drink wine and every tavern had an interior courtyard with a well, that was not only for decoration but also to refresh the drinks. Nowadays Cordoban taverns are designed as lively, yet less frenetic, venues to taste tapas. You will have the chance to sample specialties such as Flamenquin (battered pork or ham), Salmorejo (cold tomato soup thickened with breadcrumbs), Rabo de Toro (Bulls tail) and for dessert the typical Pastel Cordobes - a pastry filled with sweet pumpkin. Following your wonderful day in Cordoba, you will take a train back to Seville and will have the evening to relax and perhaps have dinner in a local restaurant - we have many suggestions.

In a Nutshell: High Speed Train to Cordoba, Private guided Jewish Heritage tour of Cordoba, tapas hopping lunch

DAY 8 MADRID

This morning, after breakfast, you will be leaving Andalusia behind and heading to Madrid. You have tickets, on a first class basis, for the fast and comfortable high speed train and your cross-country journey will take just 2 h 40 min.

On arrival in Madrid, you will check in to your 4* boutique hotel, housed in an eighteenth century building which used to be the residence of the Duke of Noblejas and has maintained its frescoes, mirrors and stained glass whilst being equipped with modern comforts. The hotel's location is perfect, next to the famous Plaza Santa Ana, in the Barrio de las Letras and within the Golden Triangle of Art, so you will not have far to walk to get to the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia. After time to settle into your hotel, perhaps a light lunch and a chance to make the most of the Spanish "siesta", you will join our excellent bi-lingual Officially Licensed guide for a tour of El Prado, Old Madrid and Tapas hopping.

Unfortunately, there are no longer any historical Jewish sites in Madrid and the neighborhoods where Jewish quarters were located, before the Expulsion in 1492, now show no evidence of their Jewish past. You will start with a private visit to El Prado Museum Your private guided tour will first take you to El Prado museum, which is the biggest art gallery in the world. It has more than 7,600 paintings, but can exhibit only one part of its collection due to lack of space. However, a recent addition to the museum increased the space by 50%, so more paintings will gradually be displayed. Prado means meadow, and the museum got the name of Prado because there was an open meadow where the museum now sits. Your private guide, additionally qualified in Spanish History and Art, will make sure you don't miss anything. You are in excellent hands.

Your private tour of Madrid will then take you to the Plaza Oriente to see and learn about the Palace and the Cathedral. You will then walk through the Old town to the Plaza de la Villa, with the town hall, and on to San Miguel market, the hottest gastronomic spot in Madrid where its bars and restaurants make it the place to meet in old Madrid. You will also visit the Plaza Mayor and finalize your tour in Santa Ana Square (near your hotel). On your journey this afternoon/evening you will enjoy some fantastic bites to eat, and a beverage or two, as you sample the best variety of wine and tapas the city has on offer!

In a Nutshell: High Speed train to Madrid on a 1st Class basis, Private Guided Tour of El Prado and Old Madrid with Gourmet Tapas Hopping, Overnight in an elegant 4* Hotel in Madrid

DAY 9 TOLEDO

This morning, after breakfast, you are off to Toledo for the day. You have high speed train tickets from Madrid to Toledo, and return. Your local officially licensed guide, additionally qualified in Jewish Heritage of Toledo, will be waiting for you at the train station upon arrival and will lead you on a visit to the Cathedral, which is one of the most outstanding buildings in the city and is considered to be one of the high points of Gothic art. The construction of this monumental building, with a basilica floor plan and five naves, commenced in 1226, although it was not finished until the 15th century. On its main facade the outstanding feature is the doorway, made up of three doors: Infierno (Hell), Perdon (Forgiveness) and Juicio (Judgement). The exterior is topped by the two cathedral towers, one of them in flamboyant Gothic style and the other in Gothic-Renaissance.

Remains of the Jewish community are still preserved in the city of Toledo and following on your guide will lead you to visit the Synagogues of Santa Maria La Blanca and El Transito. The former, built possibly in the 12th century, is also a good example of Toledo's Mudejar art. History tells that permission to build it was granted when the King was in love with a Jewish woman however it was later converted into a church. It has five naves with decreasing heights as well as the characteristic geometrical and botanical decoration and horseshoe arches. Meanwhile, in the synagogue of El Transito, built in 1357, you can admire one of the best Mudejar coffered ceilings of all those preserved in Toledo, along with walls richly decorated with geometrical and botanical designs and Hebrew inscriptions. Nowadays, this Jewish place of worship houses the Sephardic Museum, in which an interesting collection of pieces of art and various objects used in Jewish ceremonies are exhibited, detailing medieval Jewish life in Toledo.

Your fantastic visit to Toledo, will terminate with a visit to the church of Santo Tome, famous for housing El Greco's famous picture entitled El entierro del Conde Orgaz (The burial of Count Orgaz). You will then have free time to enjoy Toledo and have lunch, for which we have several suggestions, prior to returning to Madrid. Back in Madrid, the rest of the evening is free to do as you wish - relax, have a light dinner, wander around Madrid, the choice is yours. We have many suggestions for great restaurants.

In a Nutshell: High speed train tickets, private guided tour of Toledo Jewish Heritage with our expert licensed guide

DAY 10 MADRID

After breakfast, and based on the insider top tips your guide left you with, you have a free day to wander around Madrid and see all the fantastic Museums, art galleries and famous parks of this fantastic city.

Perhaps you wish to visit the Reina Sofia Museum or the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection in the company of your expert guide, this can be of course arranged. The Reina Sofia Museum - The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, also called the Museo Reina Sofia, (Queen Sofia Museum), is the national museum for 20th century art in Spain. The museum was officially inaugurated in Madrid in 1992 and is named after the former Queen of Spain. The museum collection consists of more than 20,000 works from the late 19th century to the present day, mainly dedicated to Spanish art with highlights including two of the greatest 20th century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. Probably the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picassos 1937, oil on canvas painting, Guernica. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum - Madrid's acquisition of this treasure trove of art in the 1980s was one of the greatest coups in European art history. Amassed by a central European collector beginning around 1920, and formerly displayed in Lugano, Switzerland, its 700 canvases, with works by artists ranging from El Greco to Picasso, are arranged in chronological order. This fantastic collection rivals the legendary holdings of the Queen of England herself.

Maybe you wish to return to the Royal Palace, Palacio Real (often referred to as Palacio Oriente after the nearby square of the same name), to view its interesting interior. The palace is used by the King for ceremonial purposes only; he actually lives in the Palacio de la Zarzuela on the outskirts of the city. Or, take a leisurely walk through El Retiro Park, a great place to enjoy the open air as you stroll along the paths, of this once royal garden, passing fountains, statues, the delicate Palacio de Cristal, the boating lake and maybe the odd street entertainer or art exhibition.

You might like to do a little shopping and if your pleasure is designer clothes why not spend some time wandering around some of the finest boutiques in Spain on Calle Serrano. Whatever you decide, enjoy your day!

This evening we have many recommendations for fine dining in Madrid, be it old style Spanish food or Michelin starred extravaganza.

In a Nutshell: Free Day in Madrid, Overnight Madrid

DAY 11 BARCELONA

This morning, after a leisurely breakfast, you will be ready for the journey to another part of your tour, in Barcelona. You will have first class train tickets on the fast and comfortable high speed train. On arrival in Barcelona you will take a short taxi ride to your excellent 4* Barcelona hotel, ideally located in the Gothic Quarter, nearby to all major sights, but at the same time on the seafront.

This afternoon you will meet with your Officially Licensed guide, additionally qualified in the Jewish Heritage of Spain. You will enjoy a panoramic tour of the city and head up the Montjuic Mountain, (Jewish mountain) which has been, throughout its history, the protagonist of many events. The historical symbol and oldest monument is the Castell de Montjuic (Castle), from where there are beautiful views of the city. The Jewish cemetery had been on the Montjuic Mountain for at least a millennium and more than 500 gravestones have been found. Some of the early tombstones have been relocated to the Castell de Montjuic, a 17th-century fortification that is now a military museum. In 1995, a Holocaust Memorial was erected in the cemetery on a plot donated by the city. The memorial is composed of simple stone monuments and pedestals with the names of all the concentration camps that were liberated.

Then, together you will beat the queues as you then head to enjoy your 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 city's most internationally renowned and emblematic architect 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.

Finally, to the Gothic Quarter, considered the heart of Barcelona and home to an abundance of tucked away gourmet cafes and shops. You will make 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 which in-the-know celebrities of Barcelona frequent. Here you will be able to try the best aperitifs, perhaps a reserve cava (Spanish champagne) and sample some of the finest products of the marketplace!

You will visit the old Jewish areas of Barcelona. A Jewish community settled in the Barri Gotic from the 2nd century onwards in the area now called El Call close to Placa St. Jaume and Calle Ferran. A medieval synagogue, discovered beneath a 17th century building at the corner of Sant Domenec and Marlet, has been restored and opened to the public. Our guide is a real specialist in this field and will be ready to answer all your questions.

Your journey will continue with a visit to the famous Sant Jaume Square and Barcelona Cathedral, as well as Santa Maria del Mar Church, which is a beautiful and important 14th-century church and is considered the finest and most complete example of Catalan Gothic architecture anywhere. This church figures in the famous book Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones and our guide can also show you other sites featured in this novel, should you be interested.

Your private tour will be rounded off with an excellent Gourmet Spanish tapas tasting dinner, of course, with wine. In the heart of the Born district, and at the hands of one of the most acclaimed chefs in Barcelona, you will enjoy a great selection of modern sophisticated Spanish tapas in an elegant and fashionable setting. Your guide will leave you at the finale of your tour when you are settled safely into dinner, but not before giving you many personalized tips and suggestions for further sightseeing in Barcelona.

In a Nutshell: High speed train with 1st class tickets to Barcelona, Private guided tour of Jewish Heritage and Sagrada Familia with Gourmet Food Tastings, Gourmet Tapas dinner, Overnight in Luxury 4* Port View Hotel in Barcelona

DAY 12 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 13 GIRONA

This morning, after breakfast you are heading north to Girona and your private chauffeur will be waiting to drive you, first, to the medieval town of Besalu. On arrival in Besalu you will meet your Officially Licensed Guide, a true expert on Jewish Heritage of Spain, who will lead you on a private tour through this wonderful small village. Besalu is the former seat of the counts of the same name, a magnificent historic-artistic site, renowned for its ancient mikvah and the 11th century Roman bridge that once was necessary to adjoin this small village to land. You will visit the ruins of the Jewish quarter of Besalu, dating back to the 9th century and the mikvah 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.

After some local food tastings, you will now leave to continue your private visit and this time to the romantic city of Girona. Enchanted by stretches of cobblestone streets, the very famous old Jewish Quarter and the Centre Bonastruc ca Porta, an institute of Jewish learning built around the old Synagogue on Carrer de la Forca, the main artery of the medieval quarter which has remained amazingly intact over the centuries. Recently, much of the Call has been restored under the supervision of the Centre also home to the Museu d'Historia dels Jueus (Jewish History Museum) - which has developed a map of the maze-like streets and hosts small exhibits on Carrer de la Forca. Many of the restored buildings now house art galleries, upscale boutiques and trendy restaurants. Containing the most accurate information about medieval Jewish communities in Spain, particularly those in Catalonia, the museum's exhibits provide a picture of daily life in the quarter, Jewish traditions and the region's most influential calls. The Hebrew lapidary (tombstone) collection is considered to be one of the finest in the world.

You will wind through the narrow streets and stoned walls of the old Gothic Quarter and encounter the magnificent Girona Cathedral affording a great view of the area, little shops, cafes and medieval homes that families have passed down through the generations. Your excellent guide will accompany you to a fantastic restaurant in Girona where you are booked for a late lunch, a delicious 3 course meal with local wine. First class service, innovative takes on traditional recipes and an elegant atmosphere will provide the perfect end to your visit to Girona.

After lunch you will then head to your excellent 4* hotel situated in the heart of the old town of Girona housed in a restored 18th-century building. You may like to take a stroll out this evening and dine on one the terraces of the Independence Square, or revisit the Old Jewish quarter.

In a Nutshell: Private guided tours of Medieval Besalu and Girona Jewish Heritage, Exquisite lunch, Overnight in an excellent 4* hotel situated in the heart of the old town of Girona

DAY 14 NARBONNE

This morning, after breakfast you are heading to France and you will have tickets, on a first class basis, for the train to Narbonne. On arrival in Narbonne you will head to check in to your excellent all suites hotel, set in an aquatic garden and a few minutes walk from Narbonne. Later on your Officially Licensed Guide will meet you at your hotel for your Private guided tour of the sights and Jewish history of Narbonne.

Narbonne is a town rich in Jewish Heritage. Many rabbis and interpreters of the Torah and the Talmud once lived in this region, including the famous Rabbi Scholar and composer of Jewish literature Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac (1040 to 1105), known as RASHI.

In the 11th and 12th centuries Narbonne was the centre of an important Jewish exegetical school, aiding the growth and development of the Zarphatic and Shuadit languages. The Kabbalah was rediscovered and developed here and Narbonne was frequently mentioned in Talmudic works in connection with its scholars. Abraham ibn Daud of Toledo also gave them an importance comparable to the exilarchs of Babylon.

You will step back in time on your private tour of Narbonne and also explore the history of ancient Rome, through Narbonnes pretty squares and winding streets, and gain insight into 2,000 years of Roman heritage. Stroll along the canal to Narbonnes historic heart and learn of the waterways influence on the city during Roman times. Discover the Via Domitia, an ancient Roman road, and admire famous landmarks including the Archbishops Palace, the Basilica of St Paul-Serge and Narbonne Cathedral.The cathedral is a magnificent jewel of Gothic architecture and still owns a beautiful retable from the 14th century.

In a Nutshell: First class train tickets to Narbonne, Private guide tour of Jewish and Roman history of Narbonne, Overnight in an all suites hotel in Narbonne

DAY 15 TOULOUSE

This morning, after breakfast you are heading to Toulouse and you will have train tickets, on a 1st class basis. Toulouse is known as the Ville Rose "Pink City" of France and is classed as the capital of good life. It is wonderfully located at the confluence of the Canal du Midi and the River Garonne.

On arrival in you will head to check in to your romantic 4* Hotel, which is located in a historic building in the heart of the city, perfectly placed for exploring the Pink City. This former Monastery dating back to the 17th century is the ideal place to stay, combining rich history with modern comfort in a refined atmosphere so full of charm.

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 its beautiful squares. Centuries ago Toulouse had a thriving Jewish community, but numerous expulsions resulted in its demise. Today, thanks to the immigration of Jews from North Africa, Toulouse once again has vibrant Jewish life, the third largest in France.

This afternoon why not take a walk through the charming small streets of the old town of Toulouse where you will arrive to Place Saint-Sernin, home of the beautiful Saint-Sernin Basilica - a church full of designs and architectural touches

The Basilica of Saint Sernin is the largest Romanesque church in Europe and is notable for its imposing architecture, important medieval sculptures, excellent frescoes and France's most beautiful pipe organ.

You may like to take a walk in the park ... Jardine des Plantes is the oldest public park in Toulouse, created at the time of the French Revolution. This botanical garden is home to nearly one hundred species of deciduous trees and conifers.

Or down to the river and stroll along the wide Garonne to the iconic Pont Neuf "New Bridge". It is actually not new at all as it is a 16th-century bridge and the oldest in Toulouse. Alternatively the Canal du Midi, which was originally built as a shortcut between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, has a canal-side ideal for a leisurely stroll.

Near to the Pont Neuf you will find the "Chateau d'Eau", an old nineteenth century building, originally designed as a water tower. Built in 1823 the water tower was used until around 1870 when it was abandoned due to insufficient capacity. Today, it is a gallery opened in 1974 by Jean Dieuzaide, a photographer from Toulouse. It is now the oldest photography gallery in Europe, some say in the World!

Toulouse's emblem is the delicate violet, Parme de Toulouse, so expect to find many variations such as perfume, violet tea, bubble bath, soap and crystallized violet candies. A nice souvenir for the folks back home maybe?

Whatever you decide, you are bound to be seduced by the incomparable Toulousain lifestyle!

This evening we have various recommendations for dinner, and you might like to try a Toulouse specialty such as the typical "cassoulet" (meat and bean stew).

In a Nutshell: First class train tickets to Toulouse, Overnight in a romantic 4* Hotel located in a historic building in the heart of the city

DAY 16 BORDEAUX

This morning, after breakfast you have train tickets and are heading to Bordeaux. On arrival you will check into your beautiful 18th 4* hotel ideally located in the heart of the Golden Triangle. This afternoon your private guide will be waiting to take you on a private tour of the city focusing on the Jewish history.

It is thought that Jews settled in Bordeaux shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple, and that a considerable number settled there in the sixth and seventh centuries, because of the commercial advantages of the city. When the Jews were banished from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1497), the Jewish population of Bordeaux increased, as Jews fled to the cities of southern France.

You will hear of Bordeaux being home to a prominent medieval Jewish community and today has 3 historic Jewish cemeteries. Explore nineteenth-century Jewry and visit the memorial dedicated to the Bordeaux Jews who died in the Holocaust. The Synagogue, in spite of restricted space and a narrow access road, is one of the most monumental and largest France.

You will also stroll through the Place de la Comedie, which sits atop the ancient Roman forum. Admire the beautiful Grand Theatre, built in the late 1700s and now a venue for opera and events. Over the next few hours, take in all the sights including the striking Place de la Bourse, the impressive Grosse Cloche, and the ethereal 11th century Cathedrale Saint-Andre.

In a Nutshell: Train to Bordeaux, Private guide tour of the Jewish heritage and history of Bordeaux, Overnight in a beautiful 18th 4* hotel in Bordeaux

DAY 17 BORDEAUX

Today is a free day for you to discover more of Bordeaux on your own.

Bordeaux is both a city and a large region in Southwest France bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The sweeping Garonne River divides the city into the left and right Banks and the panoramic view of Bordeaux from the river is breathtaking and elegant. This UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 350 classified historic buildings is also part of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela and centre to the world's most spectacular wines and food.

You may like to have a day out to visit some iconic wineries for which we will be delighted to include a private chauffeur and prestigious winery visits for you.

In a Nutshell: Free day in Bordeaux, Overnight Bordeaux

DAY 18 DEPARTURE

Today, after breakfast, you will checking out of your Bordeaux hotel and your chauffeur will be waiting to transfer you to Bordeaux airport for your onward journey.

In a Nutshell: Private chauffeured transfer to Bordeaux Airport

You may like to extend your tour itinerary to include San Sebastian. We would be delighted to include more days to your itinerary for you to be able to discover the foodie mecca of the Basque Country. Alternatively, maybe you have some days planned in Paris after your tour, we would be delighted to include High speed train tickets for you from Bordeaux to the French Capital.

 

 

Your tour includes:

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights at an elegant art deco 4* hotel in the very heart of Lisbon (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for one (1) night in a 5* restored convent hotel in Evora (deluxe room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights in a 4* boutique palace-house converted hotel in the historical heart of Seville (premium room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for three (3) nights in an elegant 4* boutique hotel, in the historical and cultural heart of Madrid (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for two (2) nights in a 4* palace hotel in the Barcelona Gothic Quarter (port view room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for one (1) night in an excellent 4* Hotel in the heart of Girona (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Accommodation for one (1) night in an excellent all suites hotel in Narbonne 

  • Accommodation for one (1) night in a romantic 4* Hotel in the heart of the Pink City, Toulouse (deluxe double occupancy room)

  • Accommodation for two (2) nights in a beautiful 18th century 4* hotel in Bordeaux (superior room, double occupancy)

  • Seventeen (17) full breakfasts

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

  • High speed train tickets on a 1st class basis: Seville to Madrid, Madrid to Barcelona, Girona to Narbonne, Narbonne to Toulouse and Toulouse to Bordeaux

  • High Speed Train tickets on a comfortable standard basis for shorter journeys: between Seville & Cordoba and Madrid & Toledo

  • Private officially licensed guides, additionally qualified in Jewish Heritage for your tours, as indicated

  • All the meals, culinary, cultural visits and tastings as 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