Join Lewis & Clark on a remarkable journey across the southwest of France!
We’ll walk through diverse and breathtaking landscapes, marvel at the fascinating culture, enjoy the exquisite food and taste world-class wines from some of France’s legendary vineyards! This distinctive tour starts in the far southwest wine region of Bordeaux, on the windswept Atlantic coast, and winds its way across the entire south of France to the breathtaking Mediterranean coast. This area has an overabundance of natural beauty and historical places, with smaller towns and villages dotting the rugged landscape
Along the way we’ll explore natural parks, discover beautiful historic cities and wander into picturesque villages full of culture and charm. Ideal for those who enjoy food, wine, culture, and countryside walks, this journey will make you fall in love with the ambiance of southwest France.
Join us on this special private tour as we explore this amazing destination. Led by an expert local guide and escorted by Deborah Heath, Wine Enthusiast & Anthropologist, you’ll venture off the beaten tourist path (and most likely get lost) to discover the best that Southern France has to offer, at one of the most beautiful times of the year!
(Lewis & Clark are only taking a limited number of travelers for this small-group adventure…don’t get left behind!)
Deborah Heath, Wine Enthusiast & Anthropologist is always prepared to teach interesting courses from Cyborg Anthropology to Multispecies Ethnography, one course stands out to set the stage for this trip — Wines and Vines, exploring the anthropology of viticulture and enology across the globe! Her commitment to faculty-student research allowed her to offer students additional opportunities working on a range of projects including site visits to vineyards and wine fairs in the U.S. and France. Deborah joined the Lewis & Clark sociology and anthropology department in 1985 and after serving as Associate Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Gender Studies Program, and Fulbright advisor she retired in 2022. Deborah accompanied alumni and parents to explore the Willamette Valley Wine region in 2021. She has researched and widely traveled the South of France and looks forward to accompanying the alumni and friends group in the Fall of 2024. Learn more about Deborah’s Alter Ego here.
Tour Dates & Pricing
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Day 1 - Bienvenue à Bordeaux
Your Go Get Lost adventure starts in the late afternoon today at our meeting point, the lobby of our centrally-located hotel in Bordeaux. (You'll be provided with detailed arrival and departure instructions to help you coordinate your flights and travel.) You'll meet your private guide, your traveling companions, and start with a walk to an ancient merchants storehouse close to the river in the Chartrons district. Here we'll have a lovely introduction to the history of the wine trade in Bordeaux, a trade which has existed since Roman times and has been the principal industry ever since. We'll enjoy a tasting of the local vintages, then depart for a short walk through the charming streets of Bordeaux's old city to our dinner spot at one of our favorite local haunts.
Day 2 - The Grande Dune du Pilat
After our delicious French breakfast we'll relax for a scenic drive into the countryside west of Bordeaux, all the way to the Atlantic coast. Here at Pilat we'll find the largest sand dunes in all of Europe, and the site of our coastal walk today. As we hike along the ridges of the massive dunes, we'll enjoy expansive views of the coastline in all directions. Our return path is at sea level along the lovely beach the rings the coast. After our labors we'll sit down to an excellent lunch at one of the area's famed seafood restaurants. Oysters from the nearby bay are prized all over France, so we'll be sure they're one of the options. Washed down with a local white wine, it's a treat not to be forgotten.
After lunch we'll return to Bordeaux, you'll have the rest of the day free to wander, explore and get lost in the streets of this amazing city. Your local guide will offer another casual walking tour to see more of Bordeaux's lovely streets and sites, or you can venture out on your own, armed with nothing more than a city map and a taste for adventure. With its ample supply of shops, bars and restaurants, you'll have no trouble finding the perfect spot for dinner!
Day 3 - Saint Emilion, the Dordogne, and Rocamadour
Today we'll make our way to Saint Emilion, the mythical and quaint medieval village and center of some of the finest wines produced in the "Entre-deux-Mers" region. We'll have a pleasant countryside walk to enter the village on foot, then time to wander and explore a bit before continuing on our journey through the amazingly picturesque Perigord region, with ample forested ridges and gorges, formed over the centuries by the lovely Dordogne river. The idea here is to relax and enjoy the charming scenery as our private coach takes us through this famed region and past some of the prettiest villages on the Dordogne. This pastoral landscape might seem peaceful today, bit there are ample remnants of the medieval times when war was raging between the English and the French. The Périgord is said by locals to have “1001 fortified castles”, which still dot the countryside and contribute to the history and ambiance of the area.
The lively town of Sarlat-la-Caneda will be our venue for lunch in one of the small, local bistros. We'll have time for a leisurely stroll through the historical center before we continue on to our 3 Star inn perched above the stunning village of Rocamadour, a medieval pilgrims site spectacularly built into the rock of a mountain! After checking in we'll embark on a panoramic walk that winds through the gorgeous landscape and through Rocamadour itself. Tonight we'll enjoy a hearty dinner of local dishes at our inn.
Today's first walk at Saint Emilion is rated EASY, only 1.2 miles on country roads with 112 feet of elevation gain and 49 feet of elevation loss. The Rocamadour hike is rated EASY with a total distance of 2.5-3.5 miles, an elevation gain of 400 feet and an elevation loss of 410 feet. The trail surface is almost all paved.
Day 4 - Peche Merle and Cahors
After another exquisite French breakfast we'll make our way to one of the world's most famous archaeological sites, the caves of Peche Merle. Famous for its prehistoric cave paintings and one of only a few such sites open to visitors, the caverns extend for more than a kilometer from the entrance, with walls painted with murals dating back to 25,000 B.C.! Since our morning will be spent partially underground, it's only fitting that our lunch be spent in the sunshine...with a beautiful walk through the rural countryside crossing the river on an old railway bridge. Our trail will bring us to a scenic spot where we can enjoy a picnic and a wine tasting of some other French varieties. To make up for our indulgence, after lunch we'll have yet another excellent walk through the rolling, green hills along the river Lot. The final portion of the hike is a short climb up to the tiny village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie - perched on a cliff three hundred feet above the river and considered to be one of the prettiest medieval villages in France. After a stroll through the town we'll drive to medieval Cahors, known for its deep red wine, elaborate municipal gardens and the Pont Valentré, a medieval bridge with 3 towers, considered the best preserved fortified, medieval bridge in France.
Later this afternoon we'll arrive at our home for the night...and what a treat it is! A medieval fortified chateau renovated to luxury standards, featuring a Michelin starred restaurant and a renown chef! We'll indulge ourselves here with an exceptional meal, featuring wine pairings for each course, selected by the chef. An after-dinner apéritif on the patio under the stars might be an excellent way to end your very active day.
Today's hike is rated MODERATE, with a total distance of 5.4 miles, an elevation gain of 787 feet and an elevation loss of 1,001 feet. The trail surface is varied, sometimes paved, sometimes country lanes, sometimes single-track forest trail.
Day 5 - Cordes-sur-Ciel and Carcassone
After breakfast this morning we head towards Carcassonne, stopping en route at the lovely medieval village of Cordes-sur-Ciel for some exploration. Surrounded by mountains and vineyards, the scent of pine shrubs, spicy herbs, and sweet flowers are carried on the cool winds. Known as the garrigue, it is the signature scent of the south of France. The village itself is a wonder of medieval architecture set amid cobblestone streets lined with shops. It's a pleasure to stroll and explore this delightful and photogenic town.
This area has been producing wines since the Roman times, and is the oldest wine area in southwestern France. Shortly after departing Cordes we'll stop at a small family winery in the Gaillac region, to meet the current owners (14th generation...over 400 years) and taste some of their excellent products. In the early afternoon we reach Carcassonne. The medieval walled city sits in the picturesque valley of the Aude river—the gap between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central. With its extensive ramparts and myriad turrets, the citadel of Carcassonne dominates the surrounding countryside. It's a UNESCO- listed World Heritage Site and embodiment of a fairy-tale castle. After checking into the hotel in the historic center, withing the ancient walls, our guide will lead us on a city walk that winds through the Cite', along the ramparts, and perhaps even across the river into the old town.
You'll have another amazing group meal tonight in one of Carcassone's fine restaurants, and of course French vintages will complement the excellent fare! An after-dinner drink at a sidewalk cafe...or a stroll through the lamplit streets of the old city will be a perfect end to the day.
Today's walk is rated EASY, with a total distance of around 3 miles, with minimal elevation gain or loss. As it's a city walk, the surface is paved.
Day 6 - Galamus Gorge, Cathar Castles, and Fontfroide Abbey
Today is packed with adventure and activity! After breakfast we'll head south into the mountainous region known for its Cathar castles. Enroute we'll have a stop at the famous Gorge de Galamus for a short "warm-up walk" through the amazing scenery. Our next stop will be the picturesque ruins of the Cathar stronghold Peyrepertuse Castle, with its dramatic mountaintop setting. You'll have plenty of time to wander and take pictures in this movie-setting-like ruin. Lunch will follow in one of the local villages at the base of the mountain, but don't stuff yourself as we have an excellent hike this afternoon to visit the ruins of Chateau de Queribus, known as the last Cathar stronghold. With a location that rivals that of Peyrepetuse, Queribus Castle is strikingly isolated and dominates one of the highest peaks of the area.
Tonight we'll have the evening free in Carcassone to explore and find our own bistro or boulangerie for dinner.
Today is rated MODERATE as there are a series of short hikes to explore the gorge and two ruined castles. The total distance will be around 3 miles, the elevation gain will be 820 feet and the elevation loss 763 feet. Trail surfaces will vary between some paved surfaces, some single-track trails and some rocky trails.
Day 7 - Collioure and the Vermillion Coast
This morning we drive to the hilly region southwest of Narbonne to visit and tour of the magnificent Cistercian Abbey de Fontfroide. They have been producing wine as well there for centuries, so after our tour and we will join a wine tasting and enjoy a wonderful lunch. Later we'll continue our journey through the enchanting countryside towards the sea. Just a few miles from the coast we'll find our hike for the day, a scenic trail that winds among the vineyards, olive orchards and past an ancient castle before turning into the historic village and old fishing port of Collioure on a stretch of the Mediterranean Sea known as the Vermilion Coast. The small town has a strong Catalan culture and is famous for its anchovies and history as an artists colony - Derain, Picasso and Matisse all painted here. For many this is the prettiest place to be found on the French coast west of Marseille. The afternoon leaves some free time for strolling around at your own pace or even for a swim in the usually crystal clear water of the sea.
Today's walk is rated EASY, with a total distance of 3.4 miles, an elevation gain of 195 feet and an elevation loss of 425 feet. The trail surface is mostly rocky footpaths.
Day 8 - Banyuls
This morning we mix with the natives and use the local bus to take us out to a particularly scenic part of the coast, where we'll come upon the fascinating remains of one of the largest dynamite factories in France, owned by Alfred Nobel. Here marks the starting point of a relaxing coastal walk along the lovely, rugged Mediterranean shoreline until reaching Banyuls, another nice old fishing village famous for its very particular sweet dessert wines produced only in the hills around the town. You're free for lunch, after which we take the bus back to Collioure and enjoy a wine tasting in a local bodega, featuring some of the very interesting local wines including the Banyuls dessert wines.
Tonight we'll have an amazing farewell dinner in a superbly located restaurant, overlooking the sea. with lots of toasts. laughing, eating, and of course, wine.
Today's hike is rated MODERATE, with a total distance of 6.5 miles, an elevation gain of 921 feet and an elevation loss of 921 feet.
Day 9 - Au Revoir
After breakfast today you'll have an early morning group transfer to the Barcelona airport, where your Lewis & Clark tour will end. From here you can opt to stay in Barcelona for an extension, catch a flight to somewhere else in Europe, or board your flight to return home.
Due to availability at the time of booking, hotels listed may change to similar hotels
Bordeaux - 4 Star Hotel de Seze: Two generations have combined their talents and experiences to restore the Hôtel de Sèze to its former glory. Halfway between the Place des Quinconces and the emblematic Allées de Tourny, in the heart of Bordeaux , the historic Bordeaux house opens the doors to its four-star universe. Inspired by the classic 18th century revisited, this new address with elegant and contemporary charm combines intimate comfort and personalized services. Simplicity, refinement and character are its signature. The Hotel de Sèze is part of the great French hotel tradition with 54 rooms (including 4 suites) and plays the cozy spirit card with its services: the Comptoir de Sèze restaurant and its bistronomic cuisine, the Bar and its lounges, smoking room and cigar cellar, the Spa, a veritable temple of well-being, and the private golf course reserved exclusively for customers.
Rocamadour - 3 Star Hotel du Chateau Rocamadour: The 3-star Hotel du Château welcomes guests for charming and relaxing stays in Superior rooms, each with a balcony or terrace overlooking the swimming pool or woodlands. The hotel is located in the heart of a wooded park and is ideally situated just 200 meters from the Château de Rocamadour and a few minutes' walk from the lifts that take visitors to the town center. This privileged location makes it easy for guests to discover the many important historical and cultural heritage sites that constitute the beauty and renown of this hillside village overlooking the Alzou valley.
Cahors - 4 Star Château de Mercuès: Be transported by the unique feel at the four-star Château de Mercuès, a wine-estate hotel in the Relais & Châteaux group. This beautiful medieval castle perched on a rocky outcrop overlooks the picturesque Lot valley and Cahors vineyards, giving exceptional views from every vantage point. Stroll along the castle’s wide halls to find a small chapel hidden away inside one tower, or down the immense staircases to the underground cellar where our wine is aged. A perfect combination of elegance, gastronomy, fine wines and the beauty of nature.
Carcassonne - 4- Star Hotel Le Donjon:Perfectly located inside the walls of the medieval city, this old-world property combines the feel of stepping back in time with the amenities and comforts of a modern room. Thanks to its ideal location, the Le Donjon is part of the heritage of the medieval citadel of Carcassonne. This 4-star property is made up of two different houses, the Main House and the House of Count Roger located opposite. Situated only a one minute walk from the Château Comtal and three minutes from the Basilica, it has a perfect location to discover the old town of Carcassonne. With its history mixing tradition and trend, modern comfort and medieval inspiration, this place will offer you more than a family and professional welcome, it will offer you an allegory of good times, in the full meaning of the term.
Collioure - 3 Star Hotel La Casa Païral: This boutique property is in a magnificent town house that was formerly the home of a 19th century Catalan family, a haven of peace and tranquility situated in the heart of Collioure, right on the Mediterranean coast. Each of the 27 rooms is decorated differently in its own unique, appealing style. The hotel’s typical Catalan architecture sits amid beautiful flowers and lush green vegetation. In the breakfast area a fountain splashes softly in the center of a lush, flowered patio shaded by a tall palm tree and a century-old magnolia. Their heated swimming pool is bordered by a beautiful wisteria that provides cool shade in the heat of the day.
- 8 Nights, Double Occupancy at listed hotels (or similar)
- 8 Breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
- 4 Wine tastings
- All entrance fees as listed in itinerary (Peche Merle, Fontfroide, Peyreperthuse, Queribus, etc)
- All transportation once the tour starts, (Day 7 on local public transport)
- Group departure airport transfer to Barcelona airport on the morning of Day 8
- All listed activities, tours, visits, as per itinerary
- All tips except for your primary local tour leader
- Local guide for the entire tour
- Escorted by Deborah Heath, Wine Enthusiast and Anthropologist
- A lifetime of memories
What´s not Included
- Meals not specified in itinerary
- Beverages at meals unless specified in itinerary (all group meals include water and local wine)
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption and Medical Insurance (strongly recommended), call for details
- Single supplement charge
- Items of a personal nature; phone calls, laundry, etc.
- Arrival transfers
- International airfare, tour begins mid-afternoon in Bordeaux, France on Day 1, and ends at the airport in Barcelona, Spain on the morning of Day 8
- Tip for the primary local guide
- Any costs associated with options or free time