Friday September 14, 2018
Arrive, check into your hotel and meet for dinner in Albi at a restaurant recommend by the Michelin guide which is conveniently located in our hotel. We’ll drink superb local wines and toast to our arrival in France in this jewel box space with skylights and excellent modern French food.
Optional: Jet lag rejuvenation massage
Saturday September 15th, 2018
Discover the charming ancient city of Albi dating back to the Bronze age and situated on the river Tarn. We’ll walk across its bridges, some of which are nearly 1000 years old and then tour Albi’s 13th century cathedral. Lucky for us this weekend falls on the Journées des Patrimoine, which is the only time of year where a myriad of historic and private places are open to the pubic. This is a big weekend throughout France where thousands of French experience their rich history and heritage by visiting and learning about these private places such as the historic Jesuit college, the Ecole des Arts, the town hall and much much more.
We’ll lunch at a neo-bistro* in town. Then in the afternoon we’ll tour the Tolouse Lautrec Museum and its stunning formal gardens.
Time back at your hotel for rest and relaxation.
Dinner tonight at an Auberge right near the old bridge specializing in lighter and extremely creative French food.
* A Neo-bistro can be defined as a small restaurant run by a chefs with a vision. These chefs are classically trained, and have gained recognition at grand, Michelin starred venues, in France and abroad. Then they stepped away from the constraints of the star system, to forge their own culinary paths. -Karen Kane, Paris by Design
Sunday September 16th, 2018
Head out for an adventure to historic Najac, situated on a bend on the river Tarn and considered one of the most beautiful villages in France with its charming half-timbered houses. Here we’ll explore the Najac castle from 1253 and the lovely picturesque village at its feet. We’ll stop to taste and buy some organic locally made charcuterie.
We’ll stop on the way to Najac to explore the Bastide town of Cordes sur Ciel buildt in 1222 by the Count of Toulouse. We’ll lunch here Al Fresco on local delicacies and then later we’ll head to Gaillac to enjoy a local wine tasting in this town known for its hearty reds.
Dinner in Albi at a Modern French wine bar.
Monday September 17th, 2018
We’ll spend the day enjoying the idyllic fall scenery as we canoe down the Tarn river with a stop for a scrumptious picnic, riverside.
Tonight we’ll have a casual Dinner out the countryside at a local rustic bistro headed owned by a well-known chef and mentioned in the Michelin guide.
Tuesday September 18th, 2018
Today we check out of our hotels in Albi and we’ll head off towards the east, arriving in the Aveyron department. We’ll be staying for the next three nights at the exquisite Ferme Mejanneserre & Le Petit Chou both of which are in or near the town of Entraygues-Sur-Truyere.
Today we’ll stop in Rodez, the capital of the region to visit two of its important museums. Discover the work of the area’s most famous artist Pierre Soulages at a superbly designed new museum dedicated to his work. Here we’ll have a private guided visit with the founder of the board of this organisation. After lunch at the celebrated Cafe Bras located within the Soulages museum our next visit will be to Musée Denys-Puech a museum created in 1903 by the local award winning sculptor by the same name.
Relaxing dinner at Le Chou Rouge in Entraygues
Wednesday September 19th, 2018
Today we’ll head off to Estaing to visit the Chateau at the center of this historic village. This Chateau has been in the family of the former President of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing for 400 years.
Then we’ll carry on down the road to Espalion, the charming village which is a stop on the road to Compostelle, the 1000 year old pilgrimage to Spain. Espalion is situated on the Lot river and boasts an 11th century bridge.
Then we’ll head down to Bozouls, a geological site similar to a mini-Grand Canyon. We’ll have time this afternoon for a nature hike from the bottom of the canyon up to the top via a floral covered footpath frequented by donkeys and llama. This is where my sister has had a home for the past 30 years. We’ll open her 350 year old stone house and enjoy a homemade meal here taking our aperitifs while listening to the rushing river as we sit at the former grist-mill outside.
Thursday September 20th, 2018
Today in the morning we’ll visit the new pottery museum in Le Fel and spend some time with our friends Rain and Lance who have lived in the region for over a decade.
Then we’ll visit Conques which has been a holy site since the 7th century. We’ll have lunch here at a crêperie and then we’ll have the pleasure of experiencing a visit to see the unique stained glass windows designed by Pierre Soulages for the 11th century abbey.
Tonight after a short tour of the Ferme Mejanneserre, we’ll feast on whole pig, duck or whatever they choose to roast for us over their spit in their gigantic fireplace. This is one of my favourite restaurants in the world mainly because they serve just one special house-made meal each day. They make or grow everything on the menu and they even throw the pottery on which your meal sits. Inevitably you’ll be able to try the region’s speciality, Aligot, which is mashed potatoes whipped together with comet cheese. Leave it to the French to find a way to make mashed even more delectible. This is hyperlocal organic French food at its very very best – down to the digestifs they make in house.
Friday September 21st, 2018
Today we’ll make our pilgrimage to Lagouile, the area and town famous for its beef and its handmade knives.
En route we’ll stop off to see the nuns at the Abbaye de Bonneval. We’ll hear them chant their morning prayers and then taste and buy some of the delicious chocolate they make.
We’ll stop into the Laguiole factory designed by Philippe Starck for those who want to buy a souvenir wine opener, country knife or a set of horn handled steak knives which will be keepsakes forever. I own them and use them at each of our abodes and they will last a lifetime.
Then we’ll sit down to our 3-hour 3 Michelin star restaurant Bras. This culinary experience will do nothing less than completely blow your mind.
With the energy we have left we’ll stop in to tour the 14th century Chateau Bouquet.
Tonight we’ll enjoy a simple dinner at the hotel and toast to our exciting French discoveries.
Saturday Sept 22nd, 2018
Breakfast and then depart
** Itinerary is subject to change slightly based on weather or availability.