FRANCE 2020

THE LANGUEDOC: south of France

MAY 26 to JUNE 2, 2020 (Departing Toronto May 25) SOLD OUT

Note NEW DATES as of September 2019

Personal Concierge Services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly • 7 nights ‘Self-contained Villa’ Accommodation • 7 Gourmet Dinners with Lots of Wine • 7 Delicious Lunches with Wine • Tour of La Cite de Carcassonne • A Gourmet Picnic in the Vineyard • Hike to the Cathar Castles of Lastour • Winery Visits & Tastings in the Minervois Region • A Secluded Courtyard Lunch • A Bike Ride in the Rolling Countryside • Wine Blending Exercise • Lunch on a Barge along the Canal de Midi • Boules Tournament • Tour of the Beautiful Medieval Town of Minerve • Private Coach Services • Olive Oil Tasting • Paella Dinner in the Garden • Special Jazz Evening at a Winery • Private Coach Airport Pick Up and Return … and a few surprises!

 

(Note: Click on the arrows below the photo at the top of the page to see all the photos)

This will be our third trip to the ‘perfect spot’ in the south of France, during the perfect time of year. We will be close to the historic town of Carcassonne, the charming city of Narbonne, and the Mediterranean. Staying at a winery, (of course!) which was recently voted “one of the 10 most beautiful wine chateaux lodgings in France.”

Twelve years ago our hosts, Victoria and Floris, planted their roots at this chateau to pursue their respective passions: hospitality and winemaking. Now fully immersed in their new lives they welcome guests, craft 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 welcomed and special. Accommodations are cozy and spacious – your own villa with a kitchen, living room, bath, bedroom, balcony or patio. There are a few large rooms for our many gatherings. 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 Rosés are the mainstay, but the sub region of Limoux has been making sparkling wine for longer than Champagne. The food is typical hearty south of France fare such as cassoulet and “out of this world” cheese. The scenery ranges from flat to stunning high-mountains.

Our reason for choosing this part of the south of France is its unspoiled feeling – it’s a lot less touristy than Provence, but every bit as beautiful – and is rich in history. And the wines are an exciting discovery.

 

ABOUT OUR WEEK IN LANGUEDOC

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 beautiful city of Narbonne. The castles of Lastours and the beautiful medieval town of Minerve are also close by. 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 Carcassonne – filling our shopping bags with food for supper. How very French!

In the mood for jazz? Why not! We’ll take you to a special place known for it’s world class concerts. In the mood for a hike? Just step outside your villa and head up through the Syrah vines. Chilled glasses of Rosé available 24/7 – we think you’ll like our little hit of France!

 

“Back from Billy and Kato’s 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

 

THE LANGUEDOC: south of France

MAY 26 to JUNE 2, 2020 SOLD OUT

18-20 participants

COST: $4,195 pp based on double occupancy, in Canadian currency, including all taxes.
*Due to limited rooms at the winery, we regret that there are no singles for this tour – but there are a few rooms with two beds for friends wanting to share a room

 

TRIP INCLUDES:
Escort services of Billy Munnelly and Kato Wake
7 nights ‘self-contained villa’ accommodation
7 gourmet dinners with lots of wine
7 delicious lunches with wine
Jazz evening at a winery
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 Carcassonne market and ‘Old City’
Wine tastings with Billy
Wine-blending seminar
Visits to, and VIP tastings at wineries
Boules tournament
Bike rental
Sparkling wine reception upon arrival
… and a few surprises!

NOT INCLUDED:
Airfare
One lunch in Carcassone
Gratuities for housekeeping, service, guides and drivers
Personal items and drinks
Travel and medical insurance

 

OFFICIAL FLIGHTS

This is a LAND ONLY TOUR beginning May 26.

25MAY TS 475 Depart Toronto 5:50pm Arrive Montreal 7:05pm TS 312 Depart Montreal 9:25pm Arrive Toulouse 10:25am (26MAY)

02JUNE TS 313 Depart Toulouse 12:05pm Arrive Montreal 2:05pm TS 468 Depart Montreal 5:30pm Arrive Toronto 6:50pm

 

 

TO BOOK

1. Email katowake@gmail.com with FRANCE 2020 in the subject headline.

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 details.)
• Your deposit will be deducted from your final invoice, but will not be refunded should you cancel. (See cancellation policy below.)
• 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.


CANCELLATION POLICY

Your $500 pp deposit is non-refundable.
Up to 90 days prior to departure – 50% refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit. However, should we find someone to fill your spot, full refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit.
Less than 90 days to departure – no refund. However, should we find someone to fill your spot, full refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit.

We are very pleased to be working with our excellent travel agents at Ellison Travel & Tours, our official partner with TICO #2392471 : Kelly Richards and Melanie Treasure.

 

 

HOW DO WE DIFFER FROM OTHER TOURS?

We must start by telling you that we never set out to conduct tours. However, after a few trials with friends we sensed that there was an interest in our style of travel. Found a niche as they say. Original and generous were the two most used words we heard to describe what we offered, and not surprisingly as our itineraries were of our own making. We did not see the point of taking people to over-crowded ‘guide book’ places. It is impossible to catch the ‘feeling’ of a place when you’re lost in a sea of fellow travellers. We still deliver WOWs, but without the hassles and crowds. And ‘generous’ might have something to do with how much wine we were pouring.

We have sought out parts of a country that offer a sense of the whole, thereby delivering the experience without long travel times. Spending less hours on the road attempting to ‘see it all’ gives us more quality time in towns, galleries or cafés. Feet on the ground as opposed to bum on a bus, seeing better over seeing more.

Most of the experiences we offer are either not available off-the-street, or would require a lot of work to secure.

We love the time at table so most evenings we all dine together, at a hand-picked restaurants where we have arranged something special – for an experience not available to the general public. You can expect everything from gourmet to rustic with seating in small groups for an intimate experience. But we’re not opposed to a little rowdiness! We stay at smaller, non-chain hotels away from the tourist bustle.

Have to admit we are not huge history buffs, but we do allow enough free time for those who want to visit churches and museums. Think of us as the anti Trip Advisor – seeking instead the alternative – the unexpected. The kind of tour you’d imagine from a local, as opposed to a Tour company. If you have never travelled with a group before, fear not. Think of the possibilities for fun with a group – ‘adult camp’ as Kato calls it. It may be the best party you ever attended.

Expect to eat and drink too much – and love every minute of it.

In each of our destinations we concentrate on the things that are special or unique: rural pubs in Ireland as they are the hub of a community, historic grandeur combined with sleek contemporary design in Portugal, and the effortless, indescribable sense of style in France. Crafting beauty in everything is Italy’s great skill, and that includes food and wine. We ask that our travellers take the time to know something of, and respect the culture we are visiting – your comfy Adidas and litre of Pepsi are not a fitting image beside a French bistro.

 

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 – please 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 detailed, 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!).

Every tour we’ve run has ‘sold out’ and many guests are repeat offenders.

 

READ ALL TESTIMONIALS HERE!

 

“I remain on an extended high from our trip to the Languedoc last week. It was one of the most exciting and fulfilling weeks of travel in my life. And I really can’t thank you enough.Your uncanny ability to fill our days with such varied and exciting , one-of-a-kind experiences leaves me speechless. I could not have fantasized a more perfect melding of experiences.The bar you have set seems like the proverbial Mount Olympus ; but, I gather from talking with the group that this is your genius and passion. Just the magnitude of designing and mounting this extravagant week makes me shake my head in disbelief that it was so perfect. Truly I am in awe and speechless. I am so very grateful for this experience and hope that we will travel together again. Please consider me for any cancellations . My bags are packed and my visa is valid for 10 years.” Dr. M. Garbol, Waterloo
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