Discover the French Pyrenees’ hidden valleys and hit the Spanish Costa Brava.
Day 1 – The best cuisine in the world, Monsieur!: Get ready this morning for a full day adventure in Cathar Country, a true hidden gem between Carcassonne and the Mediterranean sea. Our host this morning is our friend Hugo who will guide us on our e-mountain bikes to discover the impressive landscapes of the Corbières wine region. We will stopover in the gorgeous town of Ribaute where Sylvie & Laurent, a young couple of organic wine growers, will open their cellar for an unforgettable wine and beer tasting. Lunch will be in Le Bastion in the town of Lagrasse (known to be one the most beautiful medieval villages in France), a restaurant where Auguste Escoffier’s gourmet cuisine blends creative and traditional plates. This afternoon, your guide will drive you to visit the Fontfroide Abbey, one of the best preserved Cistercian monuments in France. After resting at your hotel, the spectacular Château Le Bouïs, a 300 year old vineyard located between the Mediterranean and the foothills of La Clape. we will head to what’s considered nowadays as THE best restaurant in the world: the famous 3-star Michelin Restaurant l’Auberge du Vieux Puits in the village of Fontjoncouse in the Corbières. There, Gilles Goujon, will share with you his passion for gastronomy and his love of the region.
Day 2 – Á la bonne franquette: Meet at your hotel with your driver-guide & transfer to the salt fields of Salin de l’Ile Saint Martin. An impressive site leaning against the Clape massif. The salt field spreads over 400 hectares (988 acres) outside the old and unspoilt village of Gruissan overlooking the sea. Next we’re off to Narbonne to stroll in the beautiful covered food market, Les Halles de Narbonne, where each morning the locals buy their fresh produce from their local producers. We’ll take the opportunity to have a “Á la bonne franquette” lunch in the market with fresh seasonal products from the area. We will then enjoy discovering the city of Narbonne, which the Romans called Narbo and was their first colony in what they called Gaul. This pleasant city has survived for more than two millennia & offers a remarkable Roman and medieval heritage. The day continues with a gentle cycling tour around Bages and its lagoon. This very easy bike tour will fill your eyes with the rich colours and natural perfumes of this picturesque village and coastline. Our 4-star Amour d’Hôtel, is located in the heart of the coastal village of Leucate. An architectural challenge where raw materials, elegance, design and natural light converge. It’s time to board the Limnoreia, an authentic old sailing boat from 1929 and one of the oldest in Europe for a trip around the bay. Le Grand Cap restaurant will enchant you with its finest cuisine and its fantastic view of the sea.
Day 3 – Smiths & Millers: This morning we will enjoy a tour on horseback on the sandy coast of Leucate. Then we’ll head for a lunch of oysters at the colourful oysters producers village in Leucate. The producers’ village is in fact a row of typical cabins where we will plunge into a warm atmosphere and taste the seafood without moderation, washed down, of course, with the chilled local white wine. After lunch we will head towards the foothills of the Pyrenees to visit the famous castle of Quéribus, the last stronghold of the Cathar heresy of the 13th century, built on an impressive rock promontory. Just a few minutes’ drive will take us to Moulin d’Omer which dominates the village of Cucugnan. On site, Roland, the miller, will explain to us the work involved in an active windmill and how he has dedicated himself to bringing back old local varieties of organic wheat, then visit the bakery adjoining the mill and taste the bread and other brioches. After a lovely ride into the hilly countryside, we will arrive in Belesta in the heart of the Pyrénées- Orientales and settle in the 4-star Hotel Domaine de Riberach. Between vineyards and the garigue, the open shrubby vegetation of dry Mediterranean regions, this restored wine cellar is the ideal stopover for lovers of slow life. Trendy, zen, refined, eco-friendly, gastronomic. During our dinner at the restaurant of Domaine de Riberach we can watch the sunset over the valley.
Day 4 – Wine Safari: After a glorious breakfast at your hotel, we will jump into the hotel’s land-rovers and enjoy an amazing Wine Safari. We will climb to the highest peak of their estate and discover one of the most beautiful vineyards in the Roussillon region, with exceptional panoramas and breathtaking landscapes before taking part in a bucolic barbecue in the vineyard. This afternoon we will have a small hike into the Têt Valley and its cliffs of sand and clay patiently carved by the rains. Erosion here has worked like an artist, slashing, incising, sculpting the material with scars or streaks to give the rock that scratched, almost lunar appearance locals call the ”fairy chimneys”. A walk of about an hour will take you right into this masterpiece of nature. Back to Domaine de Riberach where we will have plenty of time to relax and some well-deserved down time. We will arrive at our lodging for tonight: the Sa Perafita Guesthouse, a charming 14th-century slate building surrounded by vineyards, mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Our first Dinner in Spain will be at the restaurant Can Rafa on the seafront. Local cuisine with a multitude of fish and seafood that come directly from the fishing boats of Cadaqués. Overnight at Sa Perafita Guesthouse in Cadaques.
Day 5 – Crossing the line: Collioure, the jewel of the ‘Côte Vermeille’, where the rocky coastline of the Pyrenees meets the Mediterranean. Collioure remains a favourite site for budding artists looking to recapture the magic of Matisse, Derain and other ‘fauvists’ who were so enthralled by the play of light and the coastline here. Today we will embark for a 5 hour private cruise on a sailboat with our crew, Eric & Alexandra. We will cast off from the harbour in Collioure, and discover the Côte Vermeille. Eric, an experienced captain and sailing instructor & Alexandra, professional sailor and passionate pastry cook, will suggest an itinerary depending on weather conditions and your wishes. For lunch, they will prepare healthy products of local and seasonal production. Onboard Paddle-Windsurfing, Wings, sunbathing, and all those sea-faring activities. In the afternoon we will cross the border into Spain on a very scenic road to Cadaques, the pearl of the Catalan coast which nestles in a natural harbour sheltered from the last peaks of the Pyrenees. This pretty harbour leads to Cap Creus, one of the most picturesque places on the Costa Brava.
Day 6 – Dali’s inspiration & Hasta la: This morning, we will discover the cradle of inspiration of one of the most famous painters of all time: Salvador Dali. A native of from Cadaqués, Dalí spent much of his time in Cap Creus national park, being inspired by the turquoise colours of the sea, the rugged shapes of the rocks and by the special energy to be found here. This sublime place explains why the Costa Brava means the “rough coast”. For lunch we’re going to the beautiful city of Girona, a medieval jewel of a town that will take your breath away. Situated in the centre of the city is our bistro “Pocavergonya” (which literally translates as “little shame”). The name fits it like a glove given the bold and audacious approach taken by the chefs here, who work directly in front of customers, enabling the latter to feel part of the creative process. After a gentle stroll in Girona and a delicious ice cream on the main square we will transfer you to your hotel in the thrilling city of Barcelona.
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