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CULINARY TREASURES & CULTURE OF FRANCE & SPAIN BY RAIL

  • Overview
  • Accommodation
  • Itinerary
  • Fares

A journey overview

  • Paris
  • Champagne
  • Bordeaux
  • San Sebastian
  • Bilbao
  • San Feliz
  • Madrid

14 Days Exploration
  • Departing:
  • 27 Apr 2024 Sold Out
  • 24 Apr 2025 New release

The romance of European rail travel combined with luxury service awaits on our sojourn through France and Spain. Throughout our exploration of culture and cuisine, we gain exclusive access to the best culinary delights that the region has to offer punctuated by access-all-areas visits to famous architectural and artistic marvels. This journey through world-famous gastronomic landscapes is reserved for just 35 guests.

Map

Tour Manager - Vicky Bryant

Tour Doctor - Dr Claudia Lee

27 April 2024: As Your Tour Manager, Vicky Bryant Welcomes You On This Journey

27 April 2024: Your Accompanying Tour Doctor For This Journey Is Dr Claudia Lee


Our journey begins with a private transfer to our luxury hotel, Le Bristol, and an afternoon to explore or simply enjoy our opulent surroundings. With the exclusive Rue de Faubourg at our doorstep, the spoils of Paris are just steps away. Our evening commences with a private tour of Paris in a vintage Citroen DS car. Inspired by the film Midnight in Paris, the hour-long tour includes iconic destinations, such as the Eiffel Tower, Musee du Louvre, Montmartre, the Latin Quarter, and the Moulin Rouge cabaret. 

For dinner, you have the choice of two of our hotel’s epicurean restaurants. Taste the gastronomic wonders of renowned chef Éric Fréchon at the three-Michelin-starred Epicure, which remains unapologetically traditional in its approach to the finest of French cuisine. Alternatively, you may like to dine at 114 Faubourg, our residence’s second Michelin-starred restaurant. 

After breakfast at Le Bristol, a host of Your World experiences await:

— Connoisseurs of wine can join a first-class rail journey to Champagne to enjoy a full day of private tastings and learn about the different sub-regions and styles of the famous sparkling wine. Visit the prestigious Champagne House Pommery located in the heart of the city of Reims. Here, you’ll discover the history of this Champagne in a majestic setting dating from the 19th century. This castle contains no less than 18 kilometres of cellars to explore. You’ll then visit the Clos Pompadour vineyard, fermenting room and caves, followed by a Champagne tasting. Lunch is a paired tasting affair, sampling a different Champagne over three courses.
— Take a full day "Ville Lumière" tour of Paris to see the city’s most famous sights with a private guide and car at your disposal. Discover the extraordinary collection at Musee Du Louvre, followed by a Ducasse Ferry cruise along the Seine with a lunch menu designed by renowned chef Alain Ducasse, alongside chef Jean-Philippe Berens. Then take a trip to the top of The City of Light’s most famous structure, Tour Eiffel, and take in the spectacular panorama.
— Available in 2025: Those with a nose for fine fragrance will be attracted to our exclusive visit to Fragonard Perfume Museum. This former mansion now houses artefacts from thousands of years of perfume-making. Our sensual odyssey includes a workshop where we will make our very own scent under the guidance of a master perfume maker. 
— For those who would simply like to see the sights, enjoy free time to wander the city at leisure. 

This evening, our Welcome Dinner takes place at Pavillon Ledoyen, which proudly possesses three Michelin stars. Chef Yannick Alléno has also had the honour of being named Chef of the Year. Ranked as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants – and one of Paris’s most celebrated – Pavillon Ledoyen is famous for its contemporary and creative French cuisine. 

And so, we bid adieu to the City of Light but not before one final unique Parisian experience. We ascend to the terrace of the Arc De Triomphe where a private breakfast will be served alongside a panoramic view of Paris like no other. From here, we make our way to the famous wine region of Bordeaux by first class rail. 

Our residence is the prestigious Chateau Cordeillang-Bages, a venerable chateau in the Medoc region set amongst vineyards and verdant pine forests. The afternoon is ours to wander or relax as we please. 

Come evening we embark upon a voyage aboard a river vessel and cruise down the famed Gironne River past famous landmarks including the Pierre Bridge, the Chaban Delmas Bridge, the Cité du Vin and the Aquitaine Bridge. Our vessel features a private central lounge where tastings of a variety of Bordeaux famous vintages will be accompanied by the region’s finest cuisine over a two-course meal.

After waking to breakfast at our chateau, we are free to spend the day how we wish. Take the time to discover the local vineyards independently, or for those looking for a curated experience, embark on the full day tour to Arcachon Bay. 

This unique location features rolling sand dunes, quaint seaside towns and some of the best oysters in the world. We stop at Gujan-Mestras to sample oysters straight from the grower’s huts, paired with local white wine. We then head for the seaside village of Arcachon and the elegant Winter Town to view its collection of imposing 19th century villas. From Archenon’s picturesque waterfront, we board a private launch to explore the bay. From our luxury vessel we view Île aux Oiseaux or Bird Island, an aptly named ornithologist’s delight as well as the fishermen villages of the Cap Ferret peninsula. 

Upon our return to our chateau, we sit down to dinner at Café Lavinal, the hotel’s 1930s-inspired brasserie embodying the rich traditions of Medoc.

In Bordeaux, we have the choice to spend the day exploring the region at our leisure or head out on a curated day trip to Saint-Emilion, the first vineyard region to receive World Heritage Listing from UNESCO. 

The town itself remains steeped in history with some of the fortifications and buildings dating back to the 12th Century. We picnic in a chateau and then board the Great Vineyards Train, a small trolley bus for a short journey that winds through the Saint-Emilion region before finishing with a tasting of local wines. We then make our way back to our chateau to relax and toast the day with dinner on site.

Today, we embark on another first-class rail journey, this time to Hendaye. This picturesque French Basque enclave is nestled on the border with Spain. We then board a luxury coach to cross the border into Spain and on to the stunning seaside city of San Sebastian, one of the jewels in the Basque crown. 

Our destination is the Hotel Maria Cristina where after an exquisite lunch of local Basque favourites we will check in to our premium riverview rooms to relax. 

Tonight’s dinner is at the green Michelin-rated Restaurante Zelai Txiki where fine dining is elevated to new levels with sophisticated technique and the region’s incredible produce.

Beyond the glorious seaside, San Sebastian’s enticements include architecture, art, fashion, wine, and, of course, dining on delectable small plates at pintxos bars. 

Gain a thorough appreciation of the region’s gastronomy with a Your World experience: 
Keen cooks might wish to opt for a private Basque cooking class. Spend six hours in the company of one of the finest local chefs, who will take you on a personal journey into the art of the region’s famous cuisine. 
— Those looking to explore the city can join a half-day tour visiting famous sites, such as La Concha Bay; La Bretxa central market; the Romantic Area, with its prestigious Old Casino and Buen Pastor Cathedral. Our tour will be punctuated by stops at the best bars and cafés to sample the local fare, mainly pinxtos (small tapas-like dishes). 
— Join your expert local guide for a coastal drive to the town of Getaria, part of the Txakoli wine area. See how the white wines produced here differ to those made elsewhere in Spain. Enjoy a tasting along the sunny terrace of a local winery, boasting magnificent views across the surrounding countryside. After your visit, savour some freshly caught grilled fish at a local restaurant. 

Tonight, we have a choice of the best dining experiences in the seaside city.

After a leisurely morning and a casual lunch in San Sebastian, we board a luxury coach to transfer to Bilbao with a stop off at the gorgeous coastal town of Guetaria. 

Upon arrival in Bilbao, we board our privately chartered Costa Verde Express. This train is as much a boutique hotel as it is a mode of transport. We depart Bilbao and wind through the Spanish countryside before coming to a rest at Carranza for dinner and a night’s rest in our Grand Class rooms aboard the Costa Verde Express.

Arriving back in Bilbao over breakfast, we have a chance to explore this beautiful city and join a private curated tour of the Guggenheim Museum. Designed by architect, Frank Gehry, the incredible structure houses a phenomenal collection of modern and contemporary art. 

Upon reboarding the Costa Verde Express, we sit down to a sumptuous lunch as the train winds through the spectacular countryside. Arriving at the village of Espinosa de los Monteros, from here we travel by luxury coach to view the waterfalls of Tobera and visit the ancient town of Frías. 

Returning to Espinosa de los Monteros, we enjoy dinner on board our transport, then take rest in anticipation of another day of adventure to come.

Our privately chartered train departs early. After breakfast, we arrive at Mataporquera. Upon disembarking, we travel by coach to Palencia to view its famous Romanesque art and architecture from as early as the 11th Century. From here we move on to the 18th Century engineering marvel the Canal de Castilla before we lunch at an exemplary local restaurant. 

This afternoon, we travel by coach to visit the venerable La Roman Villa of La Olmeda. This 4th Century former mansion is considered one of the important archaeological sites of the Spanish Roman era. 

Our train departs this evening for Cistierna.

This morning, our train journey brings us to Matellana De Torio where we’ll board a private coach to visit the extraordinary Cuevas de Valporquero, a famous system of caves renowned for stalactites and imposing rock columns. Along the way, we cross the spectacular Hoces de Vegacervera, a spectacular canyon. We return to our train and enjoy lunch as we coast into the city of Leon. 

Tonight, after a carefully curated tour of this ancient city, we dine in a local restaurant specially chosen by our tour guide.

It’s time to bid farewell to the grand Costa Verde Express, as we alight from our train and board a coach for the final leg of this extraordinary culinary and cultural journey. The great city of Madrid awaits. We arrive early afternoon to check into Gran Melía Palacio De Los Duques, a luxury hotel housed in a former 19th-century palace and located in the very heart of Madrid. 

Enhance your experience of Madrid with a Your World experience:
Join sommelier and Spanish wine expert, Boris Olivas, for a masterclass of the history and styles of Spanish wine.
— Set out on a walking tour of Madrid, admiring its striking architecture and absorbing centuries of history. Then arrive at the vast and opulent Royal Palace, Europe’s oldest. 
— Alternatively, enjoy a free afternoon to explore the shopping districts of this bustling city.

Come early evening, we embark on an expertly designed tour of Madrid’s best tapas bars and restaurants. Enjoy jamon, superbly aged cheeses, fresh seafood and, of course, fluffy Spanish tortilla, beloved by all Madrileños.

Our final full day offers a range of activities to choose from in the golden Spanish capital. Select from the following Your World Experiences:   
— Art and museum-lovers will want to join the exclusive, private guided tour of the Prado Museum before its doors are open to the public. Spend quality time with the largest collections of El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya without crowds (or queues) to contend with. We will then visit the Reina Sofia Museum where Picasso’s immensely important work, Guernica is on display.
— For those who prefer to bring home art works and design pieces, our lifestyle and shopping tour will guide you to Madrid’s most lively, up-and-coming neighbourhoods to visit chic boutiques, galleries, and other hotspots not generally accessible to the average tourist. 
— For gastronomes, there’s another unique and exclusive experience, a local chef will guide you through the secrets behind making the famous Spanish rice dish, paella as well as other Spanish favourites such as gazpacho. Our edible odyssey begins in a local fresh produce market where we see the quality and variety of ingredients available to the average Spanish cook. Returning to the kitchen, we learn how to take these simple ingredients and make something truly magical. 

In the early evening, we’re in for a treat. Our farewell event will be held at the famed Tablao Palacio De Los Leones where not only will we dine on incredible Spanish cuisine but also take in a Flamenco show with all the theatrics this famed Spanish artform (mixing dance, music and even poetry) can bring.

It’s time to bid adieu and adios to our French and Spanish adventure, and new-found friends.

Brochure