THE LANGUEDOC: South of France
MAY 27 to JUNE 4, 2019
Personal concierge services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly • Lunch on a Barge along the Canal de Midi • Personal Cellar Tour & Tasting • Wine Blending Exercise • Tour of La Cite de Carcassonne • A Gourmet Picnic in the Vineyard • Hike to the Cathar Castles of Lastour • Visit to the Great Abbey, and village of Lagrasse • Trip to the seaside – the Oyster/Salt Farm in Gruissan • Winery Visits & Tastings in the Minervois Region • A Secluded Courtyard Lunch • A Bike Ride in the Countryside • Bocce/Boules Tournament • Tour of the Medieval, Hillside town of Minerve • Private Coach Services • Olive Oil Tasting • Paella Dinner in the Garden • Private Coach Airport Pick Up and Return • A Private Courtyard Lunch • Market Shopping followed by Group Meals at the Chateau… and our usual few surprises!
After several years of research, we found the ‘perfect spot’ in the south of France. At a winery, of course! It’s close to the historic site of Carcassonne, the charming city of Narbonne, and the Mediterranean. The winery was recently voted “one of the 10 most beautiful wine chateaux lodgings in France.”
In 2006 Victoria and her husband Floris planted their roots at this chateau to pursue their respective passions: hospitality and wine. Now fully immersed in their new life they welcome guests, make award-winning wines and share the wonders of the Languedoc Roussillon region. Victoria is a natural at making a home away from home, and her table settings are in the Martha league. Formerly a tour guide and director with Butterfield & Robinson, she is highly skilled in hospitality, and will make you feel like you’ve always been there. Accommodation is comfortable and intimate – your own private cottage with a kitchen, livingroom, bath and bedroom. There are a few large rooms for gatherings – so every event ‘on location’ feels special. Fresh croissants and baguettes will be delivered to your door each morning, so you can enjoy a quiet breakfast on your own before we head off for the day’s adventure. The outdoor pool is ready when you are, and with long days and warm air, late spring is a glorious time to visit this area.
Languedoc Roussillon is one of the largest wine regions in the world and recently it has attracted top winemakers from all over the world in search of ‘old vines’ and the possibility of creating something ‘different’. Reds and Rosé are the mainstay, but the sub region of Limoux has been making sparkling wine for longer than Champagne. The foods are typical hearty south of France fare such as cassoulet and “out of this world” cheese, and the scenery ranges from flat to stunning high-mountain. Our reason for choosing this part of the south of France is it’s a lot less touristy than Provence – but every bit as beautiful – and rich in history. And the wines will surely impress.
ABOUT THIS SOUTH OF FRANCE TOUR
This tour is a great example of how much you can see, do and feel without running all over the place. A few short trips take us to the Minervois hills, and to the ocean near Narbonne. The castles of Lastours and the beautiful medieval town of Minerve are also close by, and we’ll also take a day trip to the salt flats on the Mediterranean. Cyclists will love the “traffic-less” roads that wander through the gently rolling countryside and sleepy villages. In the blink of an eye we’ll be lunching on a barge, heading down the Canal de Midi, or joining the locals at the famous Saturday morning market in Carcassone – filling our shoppping bags with food for supper. How very French! In the mood for a walk or hike? Just step outside your chalet and head up through the Syrah vines. Freshly baked croissants at your door each morning, chilled glasses of Rosé available 24/7 – we think you’ll like our little hit of France!
COST: $3,695 pp based on double occupancy, including all taxes. TICO #2392471
*Single supplement: $850
Escort services of Billy Munnelly and Kato Wake
7 nights ‘self-contained villa’ accommodation
5 gourmet dinners with lots of wine
7 delicious lunches with wine
All coach travel in Languedoc Roussillon
Private coach pick-up, and return to Toulouse Airport for those on the ‘official flight’
Wine for our two market meals
Tour and lunch at the medieval, hillside town of Minerve
Hike and visit to the castles of Lastours
Visit to Carcassone market and ‘Old City’
Wine tastings with Billy
Visits to, and VIP tastings at wineries
Sparkling wine reception upon arrival
… and a few surprises!
A few meals not mentioned above
Personal items and drinks
Travel and medical insurance
OFFICIAL FLIGHTS will be announced closer to the tour date.
The tour is planned around Air Transat direct flights from Toronto to Toulouse.
1. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with FRANCE 2019 in the subject headline. (Please do this even if you have, or think you have, done this before. Thank you.)
2. Kato will email you back to confirm, and then send you a direct link to fill out a form with Ellison Travel and Tours.
3. To confirm your spot, you will need to complete this form, and send a cheque deposit of $500 per person. (We will email you full mailing details.)
• Your deposit will be deducted from your invoice but will not be refunded should you cancel. (See cancellation policy above.)
• Billy’s Best Bottles reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary.
FYI: Due to uncertain future currency rates, your invoice for this tour will permit a price increase of no more than 7%. Once your tour is paid in full, the price advertised is locked in, and no further price increase will be allowed.
Up to 6 months before departure, full refund less deposit.
91-179 days prior to departure – 50% refund less the deposit. However, should we can find someone to fill your spot, we’ll issue a full refund less your deposit.
90 days prior to departure – no refund. However, should we can find someone to fill your spot, we’ll issue a full refund less your deposit.
ABOUT OUR TRIPS
If you were ever hesitant about taking a ‘tour’ – rest assured that this is the most ‘NON-TOUR’ you could sign up for! Think instead of being on an ‘insider’ trip – going to interesting places, doing exciting things, and meeting locals – all orchestrated by a couple who know and love the region. Think also of the shared enjoyment and FUN that happens in a group – ‘adult camp’ as Kato calls it. There is some free time (mainly in the cities), but very little of the usual tourist sight-seeing.
We stay at smaller, non-chain hotels away from the tourist bustle. Lunch is included when we feel it is an integral part of the day’s itinerary, and most evenings we dine together at restaurants where we have arrange something special – for an experience not available to the general public. You can expect everything from gourmet to rustic – always with a generous amount of wine. And seating in small groups for an intimate experience. But we’re not opposed to a little rowdiness! We create the mood of a good dinner party where conversation and mood play off the food and wine for memorable times.
Instead of taking you to all the ‘guide book sights’ we like to show you something better, and less crowded. It is impossible to catch the ‘feeling’ of a place when you’re lost in a sea of fellow travellers. We spend hundreds of hours travelling in search of genuine and exciting experiences that are not in the ‘guides’. For sure we won’t let you miss the best main attractions, but most of our days are off the grid.
WHO SHOULD TRAVEL WITH US?
Those with a love of adventure and social interaction are obvious candidates. On the physical side, good walking ability and drinking stamina are not only essential, but mandatory. Meals are on the European clock– starting late and finishing late – celebrating time at the table. Basically we invite people who are interested in stepping outside their comfort zone and embracing a European experience. Filling the eyes, bellies and imagination with things unfamiliar. We welcome people who come hungry for activity and participation – ‘adult camp’ as Kato calls it – and FUN. While we are certain that you will enjoy our many activities, we do allow ‘free time’ for exploring self-interests. The more you know about our destinations before heading-out, the more fulfilling your trip will be. Do NOT come with us if you want a conventional ‘sightseeing’ tour with no participation on your part.
Finally a word on why we do not publish daily itineraries. One reason is we like to remain flexible and work around weather and local events. But more importantly, we believe that the best travel experiences are built around daily surprises – a trust between the host and the guests. Those who have travelled with us have said that they enjoyed the surprise element as it kept them ‘in the moment’. We ask that you greet us with enthusiasm, a trusting open mind, good health, and an empty wine glass (not for long!).
‘Back from Billy and Kato’s maiden tour to the Langedouc region in France. It really doesn’t matter where you go with these two – they do an exceptional job of choosing dining venues and wineries that provide a wide spectrum of excellent local fare. Certainly see places and engage with people we would never encounter on our own adding a ´je ne sais quoi’ to the whole experience. The fact that most on the tour were ‘repeat offenders’ speaks volumes for the expectation of fun and learning we all have when being on a BBB tour. We were not disappointed.’ B. Smith, Ottawa