Legendary wines along the Atlantic coast
Day 1 – The subtle art of blending: Let’s meet this morning in the lobby of your hotel. Today we are going to visit perhaps the most famous of Bordeaux vineyards…The Medoc region is located on the left bank of the Gironde Estuary north of the city of Bordeaux. To begin your day, you will discover the subtle art of blending and crafting your own vintage in Chateau Malescasse with Alban Cacaret, our host today and member of the family that owns and runs the domain. This workshop will give you some idea of what it’s like to be a winemaker and learn about the specific features of grape varieties. At the end of the session you will enjoy a buffet lunch of local specialities at Chateau Malescasse. This afternoon, we will visit and enjoy wine tasting sessions at prestigious vineyards and wineries in no less than the world-famous Pauillac & Margaux winegrowing communes which together boast some of the most renowned wines in the appellations with Crus such as like Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Lafite- Rochschild, Chateau Latour… to mention but a few. We will then head to ‘‘Les Sources de Caudalie’’, a 5-star hotel dedicated to the French Art of Living in the heart of the Château Smith Haut Lafitte vineyards, classified Grand Crus in the Graves région.. A Welcome dinner will be served at ‘‘La Table du Lavoir’’ the Bistro-style restaurant of the hotel, serving locally grown & original food in a “casual-chic” ambiance.
Day 2 – Looking for the pearl: After a nice breakfast at your hotel, we will meet in the lobby and head to Arcachon Bay (Bassin d’Arcachon). This little inland sea open on the ocean is known for its exceptional natural heritage & beautiful oyster villages that have remained authentic and untouched over the years. There we will embark on a “Pinasse”, the traditional long and narrow wooden boats, and meet Thierry our skipper for the day. We’re going to cruise with him around the bay, and admire the iconic “cabane tchanquée’’. Of course we will stop along the way for a lunch of oysters from the bay and wine lunch, with a couple of young oyster producers who will tell us about their work and way of life. On your way back to the hotel, we can’t miss the opportunity to climb to the famous Dune du Pilat, the highest sand dune in Europe. In the hotel’s jacuzzi, you can bask in the water coming directly from the hot spring located 540 meters underground! We’ll then get ready for our dinner at 2-Michelin star restaurant ‘’La Grand’Vigne’’ located in the 18th century orangery of your hotel, where Nicolas Masse, the chef, like a winegrower, seeks to express the very essence of this exceptional terroir and its products. He assembles and composes in order to ultimately retain only the essentials.
Day 3 – Extxerrik Asko!: We’re off to Biarritz this morning. This beautiful coastal city will be our gateway and entrance to discover the charms and the mysteries of the Basque country. Today we suggest a coastal walk to Spain. This beautiful 9 km long walk begins in Guetary, a cute fishing harbour, where we can have a café au lait on the seafront, and from there start our walk. Lunch will be in a lovely Relais et Châteaux restaurant in the Hôtel Parc Victoria. This 19th century manor has one of the finest collections of art deco furniture in Europe. This afternoon, we suggest introducing you to Golf while discovering the most beautiful courses in the Basque Country, situated in superbe natural environments between the sea, mountains and forests. Transfer to Biarritz and settling in at the legendary 5-Star Palace in Biarritz, the iconic Hôtel du Palais. Perched majestically above the Grande Plage of Biarritz, the hotel has maintained the spirit of its prestigious 19th-century design and architecture. Its sumptuous facade, top-quality services and high-end facilities and amenities all set it apart. Welcome diner at your hotel gourmet restaurant.
Day 4 – Cider & Sailors: This morning we will take one of the most scenic roads to San Sebastian over the famous Jaizkibel mountain overlooking the ocean. On arrival, we will meet our captain, Miss Iratxe, who will be waiting for us onboard her sailing boat, ready to show us the basque way of sailing… After a lovely 1h30 cruise we will disembark in the small harbour of Getaria, a fishing port which was also home to the great fashion designer Balenciaga, and the museum dedicated to his work is next on our list. Our host, Miki, an industrial graphic designer and expert in the history of the arts, will guide us around this fascinating fashion museum. We will then visit the house of the celebrated contemporary art sculptor Eduardo Chillida. We can’t visit the Basque country without visiting a cider house or ‘‘Sidreria’’… these are well known for their fresh bacalao (codfish) and huge steaks. You’ll also drink your cider straight from the massive cider barrels …and this is where we’ll stop for lunch. This afternoon, let’s enjoy a San Sebastian Bike tour with our friend Inaki, born and raised in the city, and who will tell us how and why the city became one of Spain’s most prominent centres for gastronomy, art and culture. Check-in the 4-star Hotel Sala Plaza in San Sebastian where you will be accommodated for 2 nights and where we’ll get ready for your 3 Michelin star restaurant at the Akelarre. After lunch we will visit the museum and the cave of Zugarramurdi with the anthropologist, Arantxa Leku, who will talk about all those traditions still alive in the Basque region that are considered pagan and pre- Christian; and that the Holy Inquisition persecuted for decades. After delving into the old traditions, we will get ready for our final night dinner in one of the most famous seafood restaurants in the area, Casa Camara. In the aquarium in the centre of the dining room are different species of lobster and fish which will later be enjoyed by diners.
Day 5 – Do you believe in witches??: A horseback ride in the Baztan valley and the Irati woods is a once in a lifetime experience. These woods are considered to be the setting for all the witchcraft legends in the area and are renowned for their mysterious atmosphere and the great variety of trees. Our friend Edu, one of the national park rangers, will ride along with us, and show us the complex ecosystem around. He will bring us to meet one of his shepherd friends, where the good man will share its lunch with us and we will taste his own cheese made in the fields we just discovered.
Day 6 – Adios amigos: This morning we will drive to Bilbao, and enjoy a walking tour of the old city. Being there and not visiting the Guggenheim Museum would be a mistake. Our guide, Edorta, will take us around all the collections of this unique museum designed by the world famous architect Frank Gehry. For our last moments in the Basque country we should have a “Pintxos lunch” and there’s no better place for that than Gure Toki’s. This pintxos bar proposes dishes from the new Basque cuisine – “haute cuisine in miniature” – and pairs it with top Spanish wines from the nearby Rioja area. After lunch we will transfer you to Bilbao’s airport.
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