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Across la douce France

From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean

10 Days - 9 Nights

The idea dates back to the time of the Romans and Leonardo Da Vinci. But it was not until the 17th century that the Canal de Garonne became a reality. And now you can admire this piece of Unesco World Heritage with your own eyes, with Caractère!

The canal between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean is a real masterpiece. And not only on an architectural level. On your discovery journey from the 'Mediterranean' Hérault to the 'Atlantic' Gironde, you will be treated to a veritable treasure trove of landscape and urban heritage.

From picturesque fishing ports and immense beaches to vast vineyards and craggy limestone plateaus. Along the way, you'll also explore one of Europe's most impressive fortified towns and... home to the biggest names in wine. In short, the best that 'La Douce France' has to offer.

Day 1: Departure to Nîmes

Today your adventure is about to begin, you will leave for Nîmes, the starting point of your journey. You will stay three nights at a Caractère hotel near Nîmes.

Day 2: Sète and the Bassin de Thau

You will drive to the picturesque fishing port of Sète, home of Georges Brassens, also called the Venice of the Mediterranean, with le Mont-Saint Clair as your panorama. The inland sea of the Bassin de Thau behind it is one big oyster farm. In Bouzigues, the centre of oyster and mussel farming, you can visit the oyster museum to compare its taste with the Atlantic one. The fishing villages of Mèze and Marseillan take you along the coast to Cap d' Agde and the sunny Cathar city of Béziers where you can stroll under the plane trees on the famous boulevard Paul-Riquet. In this area, be sure to taste the typical 'Minervois'.

Day 3: The Camargue

On the programme today: la petite Camargue, with Palavas-les-Flots, Carnon, and futuristic La Grande-Motte. Afterwards, via bird sanctuaries and dunes, you arrive in Aigues-Mortes, where the Crusaders once departed. Now it is the gateway to the immense Camargue nature reserve with its bulls, flamingos and white horses. Don't miss the immense beaches at the pilgrimage, fishing and bathing town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

Day 4: Impressive Carcassonne

Through the vast vineyards of Corbières and Minervois, you will head to Carcassonne, one of Europe's most impressive fortified cities. The city exudes the Middle Ages, just walking the double ring wall with a total of 52 towers is a special experience. You will stay three nights in Carcassonne.

Day 5: Albi and Cordes-sur-Ciel

You will follow the winding Tarn to Albi, the most lively city on its banks. Albi gave its name to the 'Albigensians', formidable 'Cathar heretics' whose faith challenged the Catholic Church in turbulent times. Albi is also the city of Toulouse-Lautrec, whose museum is not to be missed. Walking in Albi is pure enjoyment. Via the thousand-year-old Pont Vieux, you reach the medieval cité around the huge Sainte-Cécile cathedral and the impressive bishop's palace. After your visit, drive north to le Pays des Bastides Albigeoises, all 13th-century strongholds that have miraculously preserved their medieval character. Cordes-sur-Ciel is one of the most beautiful and is also set in sublime scenery.

Day 6: Toulouse and the Canal du Midi

The 'pink' university town with its old bridges over the Garonne is really worth a visit, you will find, among other things, the most beautiful Romanesque church in southern France, the Basilica St Sernin. The plane trees along the Canal du Midi are also lovely, creating an oasis in the city. At Seuil de Naurouze, you'll learn how the watershed, once an insurmountable obstacle, was ingeniously overcome with the Canal du Midi by 17th-century canal engineers.

Day 7: To the Atlantic Ocean

Through the rugged limestone plateaus of the Grands Causses regional nature park with deeply eroded river valleys or gorges, you will roughly follow the course of the Garonne to Bordeaux. You will spend three nights around Bordeaux in one of our charming hotels.

Day 8: Bordeaux, Saint-Emilion and the Médoc

In Bordeaux, you will enjoy discovering the medieval centre, with its cosy squares and quays lined with converted warehouses. The triangle above Bordeaux between the Gironde estuary and the Atlantic Ocean forms the area of the Médoc, the famous peninsula of wine. This is home to some of the biggest names in the wine world. During your exploration, you will drive past the most famous châteaux around Saint Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint Julien, Moulis and Margaux. For a beautiful panorama on the banks of the Gironde, make your way to Fort Médoc. When returning to Bordeaux, crossing the Garonne and Dordogne rivers to the Libournais is a nice change. Besides the many wine estates, a visit to the beautiful Saint Emilion is definitely a must: a medieval wine village that, along with the entire wine region around it, was the first to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Day 9: The ocean and the Bay of Arcachon

Located on a vast bay along the Atlantic coast, Arcachon is world-famous for its oyster farming of exceptional quality. At the Aquarium, you will learn all about what still swims in the bay. That Arcachon has long been the preferred seaside town of 'les Bordelais' is testified by its attractive villa districts. It is a very attractive destination with as décor the Dune de Pilat, the highest dune in Europe, the Banc d'Arguin nature reserve and the ornithological park Le Teich. It is also worth heading south towards the Landes to explore some other seaside towns such as Biscarosse.

Day 10: Going home

Your trip is unfortunately over, on day 10 you return home. If you still feel like and have time to enjoy your holiday a little longer, we recommend a stopover at one of our hotels in the Loire Valley.

Why book with Caractère?

  • Best price guarantee
  • Caractère extras
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  • 24/7 instantly in touch with Caractère employees
  • Affiliated to Travel Guarantee Fund

Contact us for your tailor-made trip
Caractère NV Korte Keppestraat 19 B-9320 Erembodegem, Aalst 053/63 00 77 info@caractere.be BE0474.874.188 Conditions Disclaimer Privacy Offer
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