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Come and join Discovery Tours by Gate 1 in this unique tour in Spain and France, where you will immerse yourself in the places history, culture, food and wines. Start in Madrid and travel up north towards France and its beautiful Bordeaux region and return to Spain to explore Gaudis city, Barcelona. Thanks to the small group size, you can get to the heart of your destination, visit places that other tours miss, and get to know the locals.
You will be spending two nights in this first class hotel, located within a short drive away from the town of Saint-milion. The hotel has magnificent views of the surrounding park and vineyards. The town of Saint-milion and the Libourne train station are about ten-minute drive away. An American style breakfast buffet and delicious cuisine is served in the hotel's gourmet restaurant. Beverages are available at the hotel's bar. Enjoy the hotel's fitness center, spa and outdoor pool. The rooms are decorated with comfortable furnishings and elegant decor. All 46 rooms are equipped with amenities for a pleasant stay.
You will be spending two nights in this first class hotel, located in the commune of Sarlat. During your stay, you can enjoy the hotel's garden and pool. The hotel is about a 5-minute walk away from the Sarlat medieval city. The Chateau de Beynac and Chateau de Castelnaud are approximately a 30-minute drive away from the hotel. The hotel serves delicious breakfast fare in the dining room. The hotel's bar features beverages, a piano and a garden area. The comfortable 40 rooms are decorated with stylish modern decor. Some rooms have a balcony with a view of the hotel's garden. All rooms are non-smoking, and are equipped with amenities for a pleasant stay:
You will spend one night in this first class hotel, located about a 10-minute walk away from Carcassonne's medieval city. The hotel is within a mile walk of the Basilica of Saint Nazaire, Chateau Comtal and the Carcassonne Cathedral. The Carcassonne railway station is about a five-minute drive away from the hotel. The hotel's restaurant features panoramic views of the medieval city and regional cuisine. A variety of refreshments are served at the hotel's bar. The stylish rooms feature modern decor and a view of either the hotel's courtyard or the medieval city. All 70 rooms are equipped with amenities for a comfortable stay:
You will be spending two nights in this first class hotel, centrally located in Bilbao. Doa Casilda Iturrizar park is within a half mile walk, while the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and the Guggenheim Museum are within a mile walk. The San Mames railway and metro stations are within a half mile walk from the hotel. Smoking rooms are available upon request. The modern 142 rooms feature stylish decor accents and comfortable furnishings. All rooms are equipped with a variety of amenities:
You will spend three nights in this deluxe hotel situated in the Eixample district of Barcelona. Passeig de Gr cia avenue and metro station, Casa Batll, and Casa Mil are within a half mile walk. Plaa de Catalunya is within a mile walk. Cuit restaurant and lounge serves Spanish cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can enjoy the buffet breakfast that is served in the Cru restaurant and steakhouse. The 211 rooms are decorated with stylish decor and modern furnishings. All rooms are equipped with amenities for a comfortable stay:
You will spend two nights in this superior first class hotel, situated in Madrid's city center close to major attractions. The hotel is located in the quiet gardened Plaza Conde Valle de Suchil. Ideally located in center city Chamberi district for enjoyment of shopping, restaurants, historical and cultural sights. The Plaza de Espana is within a mile walk and the Royal Palace is about a mile walk away.
Nearest metro, San Bernardo, is only a 3-minute walk away. Enjoy the charms of this beautiful heritage building. Non-smoking rooms are available upon request. Hotel has a buffet breakfast room and a British style tea room. The hotel's caf-bar serves light fare, coffee and refreshments. The comfortable and elegant 143 guest rooms have many modern amenities:
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Madrid, Spain's exuberant capital; transfer to your hotel. You will have time to rest and relax or, spend the day getting acquainted with this vibrant city. There is so much to see! This evening, you will enjoy a welcome drink with your tour manager and fellow travelers.
Your introduction to Madrid's striking architecture begins at grand Plaza de Cibeles Square, a neo-classical complex of marble sculptures and spectacular fountains that have become an iconic symbol for the city. At the elegant Plaza Mayor, discover the ornate 18th century Royal Palace, Europe's second largest. Then, on to the world-renowned Prado Museum, one of the finest art museums in the world, where you will stand before masterpieces by Velazquez, Goya, El Greco and other important Spanish artists.
The afternoon will be spent at your leisure or you can join the optional tour of Toledo. Enjoy a walking tour among the most famous monuments, visiting the St. Tome Church with its El Greco masterpiece and Santa Maria la Blanca Synagogue with its beautiful Moorish architecture, the oldest synagogue in Europe still standing. Enjoy dinner tonight at a local restaurant. Meal plan: breakfast and dinner.
Driving north, the scenery changes from arid plains to green fertile valleys, dramatic mountains and picturesque villages as you approach the beautiful wine region of Rioja. Here, you will visit a traditional Spanish winery (bodega) and walk through the lush vineyards. At the cellar, enjoy a wine tasting followed by a delectable lunch. Then you will travel north to the extraordinary Basque city of Bilbao, home to the glittering Guggenheim Museum. Meal plan: breakfast and lunch.
In Bilbao, visit the heart of the Casco Viejo, the city's charming Old Quarter, with its original seven streets dating back to the early 1400s. View the 14th century Gothic Cathedral de Santiago with its impressive Renaissance entryway. The day's highlight is your visit to the astonishing Guggenheim Museum. Designed by architect Frank O. Gehry, the structure is dominated by his inspired use of flowing canopies, ship shapes, towers and flying fins, all gleaming with titanium tiles.
Considered one of the 20th century's most influential architectural masterpieces, the museum houses the world's most important collections of avant-garde art. Dinner tonight will be at a restaurant known for its Basque Country signature dish of pintxos coupled with wonderful local wines. Meal plan: breakfast and dinner.
The day begins at the stunning seaside resort of San Sebastian, encircled by leafy mountains and sandy beaches looking out onto sparkling bays. In this coastal gem, you can observe the gorgeous architecture and the lovely plazas and flower-filled parks that dot the city, often-called the "pearl" of northern Spain. After, you will cross the border into France and arrive in the elegant coastal town of Biarritz. Once a whaling and fishing town, it was totally transformed into a resort for royalty and the rich and famous when Napoleon III and his Spanish wife Eugenie built their palace here.
The drive then takes you through the forested green region of Les Landes to the French wine country around Bordeaux. In this fertile area, viticulture was first introduced by the Romans and further intensified in the Middle Ages. The tradition was carried on by the monk Emilion, who was the very first to begin commercial wine production in Bordeaux. Dinner and overnight will be at a chateau in the lovely countryside near the UNESCO world heritage village of Saint Emilion. Meal plan: breakfast and dinner.
Today, you will discover Bordeaux nestled on the Garonne River. Distinguished for the wines that bear its name, Bordeaux is considered by connoisseurs to be amongst the best wine producers in the world. This bustling city with its 18th century buildings has been totally revitalized with a lively waterfront area with chic boutiques and cafs. A guided tour will show you the gargoyle La Fleche Saint Michel tower, one of the tallest medieval stone towers in France. At the vast Place des Quinconces, view the inspirational Girondins Monument.
In the historic old town, view the Grand Theatre and continue to the Triumphal Arch (or Victory Arch) a monumental landmark erected to celebrate the reign of the Roman Empire. There will be time to independently enjoy the cosmopolitan city and perhaps stroll the Rue Saint Catherine. After a specially arranged wine tasting of fabulous Bordeaux wines, return to the town of Saint Emilion, and stroll among Romanesque churches and fascinating historical ruins stretching along the narrow streets and ramparts. Enjoy free time to wander on your own in this delightful town before returning to the chateau for dinner. Meal plan: breakfast and dinner.
Magnificent vistas await you today on the drive into Dordogne Province marked by scenic river valleys, dense chestnut forests and hundreds of 13th and 14th century chateaux dotting the landscape. You will make a pause in Montignac, a pretty village on the Vezere River, to visit the world-famous Lascaux Caves (and Lascaux II caves) with their astonishing cave paintings. Mostly pictures of animals, there are also carvings and images of people. In total, there are over 1000 images in the caves.
Their vibrancy and color make them the prehistoric equivalent of the Sistine Chapel, except they were painted almost in complete darkness over 17000 years ago. Discovered by accident, the caves are now a protected monument. Travel to Sarlat, a picturesque medieval village where you stay for two nights. You will have dinner together at a traditional farm in the region. Meal plan: breakfast and dinner.
A full day to enjoy the treasures of this remarkable region. In the morning, an idyllic cruise on the Dordogne River takes you into the Perigord area. Along the way, enjoy the splendid panorama of this contrasting area with its limestone hills, medieval cities and dark green forests. Later, you will travel to exquisite Rocamadour, set precariously into limestone cliffs overlooking the valley of the Alzou River.
For pilgrims, Rocamadour's importance lies with the Shrine of Our Lady of Rocamadour, a complex of religious structures centered on a miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary and the tomb of an ancient saint. As you descend, you will explore the maze of narrow streets, old stone houses and charming shops of the main village. Return to Sarlat for an evening to be spent at leisure with time to discover some of the town's superb restaurants on your own. Meal plan: breakfast.
Your drive from Sarlat travels via Cahors, an alluring old town accented by pastel-colored buildings lining the shady squares. En route, stop to play a local game of Petanque with your fellow travelers. You will arrive in the impressive fortified walled city of Carcassonne, perched on a rocky hilltop surrounded by ancient towers and turrets, with expansive views of the city below. A guided stroll will take you along the cobbled streets to the Saint Nazaire Basilica, adorned with magnificent stained glass and intricate carvings. Browse the tiny shops selling medieval wares, and enjoy the local peasant stew this evening at a caf in the medieval town. Meal plan: breakfast and dinner.
Departing France, you will cross back into Spain, skirting the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean coast. In the small Catalonian city of Figueres, where Salvador Dali was born, visit the famous Dali Theatre-Museum, designed by the artist himself. The extended collection of his work covers Dali's entire career and highlights some of his most outstanding artistic creations.
Afterwards, continue on to Girona, Catalonia's largest city. The historic quarter, with its ancient arcaded houses and cobbled streets is crowned by a magnificent cathedral on the eastern bank of the River Ter. In the old city, Arabic-style bathhouses and the preserved Call (medieval Jewish Quarter) all enclosed by defensive Roman walls. Then, you will head to sensational Barcelona. Meal plan: breakfast.
This morning, you will visit to the Picasso Museum. Then, enjoy a tour of the local market under the guidance of local chefs. After picking out your assigned ingredients, take part in a step by step cooking class to prepare a meal in a relaxed and enjoyable environment. The balance of the day will be spent at leisure. Meal plan: breakfast and lunch.
The discovery of Barcelona starts with a visit to the Montjuic recreational area housing the National Palace, built as the central pavilion for the 1929 International Exhibition, with its colorful Magic Fountain. Montjuic is home to the Olympic complex, a number of sports facilities built for the 1992 Olympics and at its center is the impressive Olympic stadium. This artistic city is renowned for the famous works of Gaudi, the master architect.
The most unforgettable symbol is Gaudi's legendary and still-unfinished fanciful masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, a colossal church that was first started in 1882. Along the Paseo de Gracia see the unique La Pedrera (Casa Mila) with its stone like facade and Casa Batllo, which appears to have been constructed from skulls and bones. At Parc Guell, the colors and expressions of Gaudis work reach a glorious climax. The balance of the day will be spent at leisure. Tonight, bid a fond farewell to Barcelona, and your newfound friends at a festive farewell dinner. Meal plan: breakfast and dinner.
After breakfast, transfer on your own to the airport for your departure flight. Meal plan: breakfast.
This retreat will take place in Rioja region of Spain and in Bordeaux and Dordogne areas in France.
Meals are based on the hotel's or restaurant's buffet or set menu. Coffee, tea, and wine are served with all meals.
This is an optional tour which can be taken on the third day. Toledo is a "museum city" of great artistic beauty. Former capital of Spain and one of the oldest cities in Europe, Toledo has magnificent examples of architecture from different periods, making it one of the leading artistic cities of the country. In Toledo, visit the most famous monuments, such as St. Tome Church, which houses El Greco's The Burial of Count Orgaz" and the Santa Maria la Blanca Synagogue. You can also admire its famous hand-crafted work, the "Damasquinado."
The nearest airport for arrival to the location is Barcelona-El Prat international airport (BCN) and for departure, Adolfo Surez MadridBarajas Airport (MAD).