THE LANGUEDOC: south of France
May 24 to May 31, 2022 (Departing Toronto Monday May 23)
JUNE 7 to June 14, 2022 (Departing Toronto Monday June 6)
Personal Concierge Services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly • 7 nights in a ‘Self-contained Apartment’ Accommodation • 7 Gourmet Dinners with Lots of Wine • 7 Breakfasts • 6 Delicious Lunches with Wine • Tour of La Cite de Carcassonne • A Gourmet Picnic in the Vineyard • Hike to the Cathar Castles of Lastour • Winery Day trip to Minervois • Secluded Courtyard Gatherings • Cycling in the Rolling Countryside on E-Bikes • Wine Blending Exercise • Lunch on a Barge along the Canal de Midi • Boules Tournament • Private Coach Services • Olive Oil Tasting • Paella Dinner in the Garden • Food Truck Party • Special Jazz Evening at a Winery • An Idyllic Lunch in an Olive Grove • Market Shopping • Private Coach Airport Pick Up and Return to Toulouse Airport … 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 fifth year visiting the ‘perfect spot’ in the south of France, during the perfect time of year. Our location is 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 established, they welcome guests to share the wonders of the Languedoc Roussillon region, and craft award-winning wines. 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 apartment with a kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom, balcony or patio. There are a few wonderful large rooms and a courtyard to accommodate 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 Fontfroide Abbey are also close by. Cycling on your rented E-bike will be a joy on 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 and wine 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, Toronto
Are you thinking about taking a Billy’s Best Bottles trip? Don’t think for a minute longer! We just returned from the 2019 south of France tour. My partner Trevor said “It was the best trip of our life.” We have done a fair bit of European travel in groups and on our own, but this trip really was the best. There isn’t one thing that made it so – there were so many highlights – the breathtaking views, the carefully planned activities, sight-seeing, lunches, dinners, amazing wines, the accommodation, and barrels of laughter with new friends. All effortlessly managed and executed by Billy and Kato who have their special brand of magic, and who make it a five-star experience. It was the right balance of sophistication, cultural activities, and gourmet experiences, all staged in sublime settings. Jack & Trevor, Kingston
THE LANGUEDOC: south of France
TOUR ONE: May 24-31, 2022
TOUR TWO: JUNE 7-14, 2022
This is a LAND ONLY TOUR TICO #2392471
The small businesses we work with are readjusting through these Covid times, and aren’t able to give us firm prices on some services quite yet. So we are quoting a price range, and hope to lock in the price by 1 July, 2021.
$4,500 – $4,795 pp based on double occupancy, in Canadian currency, including all taxes. (We will confirm the price and official flights ASAP, by 1 July, 2021)
*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.
PLEASE NOTE*** It is important that participants coming on this tour are in good physical shape for our daily excursions, which might include hiking, walking and cycling.
Escort services of Billy Munnelly and Kato Wake
7 nights ‘self-contained villa’ accommodation
7 gourmet dinners with lots of wine
6 delicious lunches with wine
Special jazz evening & dinner at a winery
All coach travel in Languedoc Roussillon
Tour of Fontfroide Abbey
Hike and visit to the castles of Lastours
Visit to the Carcassonne outdoor market and ‘Old City’
Wine tastings with Billy
Barge excursion on the Canal de Midi
Olive Oil tasting
Idyllic Picnic Lunch in an Olive Grove
Visits to, and VIP tastings at wineries
Sparkling wine reception upon arrival
Private coach pick-up, and return to Toulouse Airport for the ‘official flights’
… and a few surprises!
One lunch in Carcassonne
Gratuities for housekeeping, service, guides and drivers
Personal items and drinks
Travel and medical insurance
Given the uncertainties of travel due to covid, the official flights are not yet confirmed. You will be updated as soon as possible.
1. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with FRANCE 2022 in the subject headline, BEFORE APRIL 10. 2021. Please let us know what tour is your preference – one or either. Priority is given to those who signed up in 2019 and 2020, when the tours were cancelled because of Covid. If there is more interest than availability, we will have a lottery and let everyone know April 11. 2021.
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, our official partner with TICO #2392471: and the amazing Kelly Richards. To confirm your spot, you will need to complete their form, and send a cheque for $500 per person as your non-refundable deposit by mid-Mary, 2021. (We will email you full instructions.)
• Your deposit will be deducted from your 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.
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.
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.
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.