FRANCE 2023

LOVELY LANGUEDOC: south of France

 

Tuesday June 6 to Thursday June 15, 2023 (Departing Monday June 5) SOLD OUT
Thursday September 28 to Saturday October 7, 2023 (Departing Wednesday September 27) TWO rooms available

 

Personal Concierge Services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly • 9 nights accommodation – 7 in Self-contained Apartment Accommodation at a Winery, and 2 nights in the Charming City of Toulouse • 8 Gourmet Dinners with Lots of Wine • 9 Breakfasts • 6 Delicious Lunches with Wine • Visit to 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 • Wine Blending Exercise • Lunch on a Barge along the Canal de Midi • Boules Tournament • Private Coach Services • Olive Oil Tasting • Paella and BBQ Dinners • Food Truck Party • Relaxing at a Private Mediterranean Beach • 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 sixth year visiting the ‘perfect spot’ in the south of France, during the perfect time of year. Our home-base, Chateau Canet, is close to the historic town of Carcassonne, and has been voted “one of the 10 most beautiful wine chateaux lodgings in France.”

Our hosts, Victoria and Floris, planted their roots at Ch. Canet in 2006 to pursue their respective passions: hospitality and winemaking. Now fully established, they welcome guests to share the wonders of the Languedoc Roussillon region, and to 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 the largest wine regions in the world and recently it has attracted top winemakers 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 a well-chosen location can deliver – eliminating the need to go running all over the place. A few short trips take us to the Minervois hills, and to the historic town of Minerve. The castles of Lastours and the beautiful Fontfroide Abbey are also close by. Expect to enjoy gently rolling countryside and sleepy villages, while in the blink of an eye we’ll be lunching on a barge, heading down the Canal de Midi. Or swimming in the Mediterranean, 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 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

 

“Billy and Kato’s France Tour is a gift you should give yourself. You arrive at a country chateau that is a working winery – spring green vineyards as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by silvery groves of olives and bright meadows filled with red poppies. You will eat absolutely delicious and artfully prepared food: duck, pates, local goat cheeses all served with abundant wine, and this is only lunch!~ There are field trips to neighbouring wineries, medieval villages, local markets and always a few delightful surprises! Food, wine, a bit of culture, much laughter and a lot of fun. You will be living what the French call joie de vivre – the exuberant enjoyment of life! Billy and Kato should be nominated as a National Treasure of Tourism. They have certainly outdone themselves with their France Tour.”  B. Pace, NY

 

“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

LOVELY LANGUEDOC: south of France

JUNE 6 to JUNE 15, 2023 SOLD OUT
OR
SEPTEMBER 28 to OCTOBER 7, 2023 TWO rooms available

This is a LAND ONLY TOUR TICO #2392471
18-20 participants

COST
$5,345
pp based on double occupancy, in Canadian currency, including all taxes.
single supplement $1,250

PLEASE NOTE*** It is important that participants coming on this tour are in good physical shape for our daily excursions, which often include hiking and walking. We expect everyone to participate in our daily activities, as our accommodation has no restaurant services.

 

TRIP INCLUDES:
Escort services of Billy Munnelly and Kato Wake
7 nights ‘self-contained villa’ accommodation at a Winery
2 nights accommodation in Toulouse
8 gourmet dinners with lots of wine
9 breakfasts
6 delicious lunches with wine
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
Wine-blending seminar
Olive Oil tasting
Idyllic Picnic Lunch in an Olive Grove
Visits to, and VIP tastings at wineries
Boules tournament
Afternoon on a private Mediterranean beach
Wine reception upon arrival
Private coach pick-up, and return to Toulouse Airport for the ‘official flights’
… and a few carefully curated surprises!

NOT INCLUDED:
Airfare
Three lunches and one dinner
Gratuities for housekeeping, service, guides and drivers
Personal items and drinks
Travel and medical insurance

 

OFFICIAL FLIGHTS

JUNE TOUR
GETTING THERE
Monday June 5 Toronto to Toulouse
Flight TS511 departs Toronto June 5 at 19:30 (7:30pm), arrives Montreal 20:50 (8:50pm)
Flight TS582 Montreal to Toulouse, Departs 23:40 (11:40pm), arrives Toulouse 12:40pm on June 6
RETURN FLIGHT
Thursday June 15 Toulouse to Montreal
TS583 departs Toulouse 15:55 (2:55pm), Arrives Montreal 16:55 (4:55pm)
Price is around $900.
 
MONTREAL TO TORONTO
The Air Transat Toulouse flight ends in Montreal and does not continue. So we suggest booking a return flight from Montreal to Toronto with West Jet.
June 15 WS 3539 Departs Montreal at 8pm and arrives in Toronto at 9:34pm
Price is about $255
FYI For those who can arrange transportation to and from Pierre E. Trudeau Airport in Dorval, the Air Transat direct flight from Montreal to Toulouse is the best value and the easiest.
Our tour starts at 12:40pm at Toulouse airport on June 6 – we’ll meet you at the airport (arrivals) and take you to the Chateau on our private coach.

SEPTEMBER TOUR


GETTING THERE
Tuesday September 27 Toronto to Toulouse
Flight TS511 departs Toronto Wednesday September 27 at 19:30 (7:30pm), arrives Montreal 20:50 (8:50pm)
Flight TS582 Montreal to Toulouse, Departs 23:40 (11:40pm), arrives Toulouse 12:40pm on Thursday September 28
RETURN FLIGHT
Saturday October 7 Toulouse to Montreal
TS583 departs Toulouse 15:55 (2:55pm), Arrives Montreal 16:55 (4:55pm)
Price is around $900.
 
MONTREAL TO TORONTO
The Air Transat Toulouse flight ends in Montreal and does not continue. So we suggest booking a return flight from Montreal to Toronto with Air Canada.
October 7 AC 429 Q Departs Montreal at 9:30pm and arrives in Toronto at 10:53pm
Price is about $255
FYI For those who can arrange transportation to and from Pierre E. Trudeau Airport in Dorval, the Air Transat direct flight from Montreal to Toulouse is the best value and the easiest.
Our tour starts at 12:40pm at Toulouse airport on September 28 – we’ll meet you at the airport (arrivals) and take you to the Chateau on our private coach.

 

TO BOOK
Email katowake@gmail.com with FRANCE 2023 in the subject headline if you are interested or wish to be on the cancellation list for the June tour or the 2024 tours.
We will contact you with further details once your spot is confirmed.

Our official partner for TICO is Ellison Travel & Tours #2392471.
Billy’s Best Bottles reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary.

We expect everyone to be in good physical shape – able to walk 2 hours easily. Note there are no restaurant services at the winery.


CANCELLATION POLICY

Your $500 pp deposit is non-refundable.
Final payment is due 120 days prior to the tour, and is 100% non-refundable.

FYI: Tours will be cancelled or postponed if Canadian “˜Do Not Travel’ advisories apply to the destination, or if Ellison Travel & Tours deems it unsafe to travel, in which case, all monies paid will be transferred to a future travel credit.

 

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 – 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 – consider a step-up from your comfy Adidas.

 

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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