South West Coast of France in One Week With Your Driver-Guide

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The South West Coast of France is a much-underestimated region containing many treasures that often go overlooked by international travelers. That is why our tour planning team has put together our best of the South West Coast itinerary to bring some more attention to these gorgeous coastal towns and villages.

What is included:

Day 1: Toulouse

Tour guide in Basilica of Saint Sernin in Toulouse France
Basilica of Saint Sernin in Toulouse

Your tour of South West of France starts in Toulouse, known as La Cite Rose (the Rose city) due to the predominance of pink terracotta stone used for many of the impressive buildings in the city. We start at the Capitol Building, which bears a resemblance to Buckingham palace although not quite as grand. 

The magnificent building is situated in the Place du Capitole – one of the most beautiful piazzas in the whole of Europe. Visit the famous Basilique Saint Sernin, the largest surviving Romanesque church in Europe and a UNESCO world heritage site. 

The church’s bell tower is particularly fascinating as it has five levels of Romanesque arches. For museum lovers, Toulouse has some of France’s best museums and today we will also visit the Museum of Toulouse. This is a Natural History museum and has more than 2,000 exhibits. It is also worth a quip stop at the pretty botanical garden that is situated just next door to the Museum. End the day with a tour around the famous Jardins Japonais. This exotic park was inspired by the gardens of Kyoto and is perfect for an afternoon walk. 

For space enthusiasts, Toulouse is also known as Europe’s City of Space which also has an IMAX cinema and aquarium as well as the opportunity to learn more about the history of space travel and the future of space travel.

Day 2: Toulouse to Albi

image of bridge over river in Albi, South West of France.
Albi, South West France

Situated North East of Toulouse is Albi, home to the famous Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi is also the capital of the Tarn Department which is located in the region of Occitane. The town is also known as the Red City, due to the red-bricked cathedral  Ste Cecile that dominates this town.

Your tour starts in this magnificent Gothic cathedral, in parts its walls are 20 foot thick which actually make this building the biggest brick building in the world. On the outside, this Gothic Cathedral looks more like a fortress than a place of worship. Admire the magnificent Renaissance frescoes and painted chapels inside the church. 

Spend the afternoon in nearby Gaillac, with a private tour on one of the many award-winning estates in the region.

Day 3: Albi to Revel to Lac St Ferreol

Guide showing people around a French Cheese market on tour.
Revel Market, France

Today we head south for the Market Town of Revel. On Market day the town square transforms into a bustling market voted as one of France’s top 5 Markets in 2022. The market has something for everyone: local organic honey produced in the nearby Lauragais meadows, artisan cheese makers, and organic cassoulet served out of industrial-sized ironware all sit side by side in this busy market.  

When it is not market day, the square transforms into a typical collection of brasseries and cafes where locals and tourists mingle. Try some of the local specialities – foie gras and cuisses de canard. 

In the afternoon mix with the locals and take a walk around the nearby Lac St Ferreol. This picturesque lake is a great place for any water sports enthusiast – try kitesurfing or sailing.

Otherwise, just enjoy a shaded walk around the lake, and maybe stop for a drink at one of the cafes on the way back to your chauffeur.

We are having a fabulous time and the tour of the Loire Valley was amazing! We too adore Bruno and Flor. They are perfect ambassadors of France who shared their history and culture with us so eloquently! We give our highest plaudits to Flor for her insights into French history. And to Bruno, easily the best driver we could ever want. The Loire Valley is so beautiful we wanted to stay forever! We had a wonderful time at Versailles too. Our guide was a delightful and expressive soul who made the ages of Louis XIV, XV, XVI, Madame DuBarry, and Marie Antoinette truly come to life! We made a connection with her too: she hails from Catania, Sicily, and my ancestors are from nearby Cefalu, Sicily. A singularly unique and privileged day in Versailles! Many thanks to you for going the extra mile to make all of these arrangements for us! We truly hope we can return again! And we no doubt will call on you for help! Thank you so much!

Day 4: Lac St Ferreol to St Felix de Lauragais to Carcassonne

Colourful spires in fortified medieval city of Carcassonne.
Carcassonne, France

Our morning starts with a visit to St Felix en Lauragais. This Mediaeval fortified village sits on the top of a hill and has incredible views of the neighboring countryside, filled with tournesol (sunflowers) and wheat fields against the stunning backdrop of the Pyrenees. 

In the beautiful square are half-timbered houses built with the local pale-colored stone – stop and have a coffee and a pastry from the local boulangerie. This boulangerie is so in demand that their clients will travel for up to 40 minutes, passing numerous boulangeries, just so they can have the famous bread from St Felix.

Less than an hour away lies Carcassonne, recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1997, a Medieval city sandwiched between the Pyrenees and Massif Central. This city’s walls are over 3km long and house 52 watch towers, many of which were used as torture chambers or prisons during the thirteenth century. 

The city was so well fortified that even the Black Prince Edward could not take the city when he conquered much of the surrounding area. Spend the afternoon exploring this magical walled city with its Gothic Inside this walled village you will find the ancient Basilica with intricate stained glass windows, visit the town square with its magnificent fountain and dine al fresco in one of the many bustling restaurants and cafes that line the square.

Day 5: Carcassonne to Perpignan

sun setting over the Palace of the Kings of Mallorca in perpignan
Palais des Rois Majorque

Today we inch closer to the border with Spain and visit the city of Perpignan, which was the capital city of the Spanish island of Majorca during the 13th Century as you explore the city you will see the huge Catalan influence all around you. 

From street signs to the magnificent Palais des Rois Majorque (King of Majorca’s Palace), there is a strong Spanish presence. At the entrance to the city is the Castellet – a 14/15th Century fort that used to protect the city’s inhabitants and is now home to a museum. 

Your private tour starts here and moves through the old town with the impressive cathedral St Jean and the Palais des Rois our next stops for the day. Those of you visiting on a Thursday can enjoy the traditional Les Jeudis de Perpignan, which is a street festival every Thursday during the summer months. Described as a weekly Mardi Gras, this weekly festival is filled with amazing & extravagant floats, street musicians, marching bands, and magicians.

Day 6: Perpignan to Porte Vendres, Colliores & Banyuls

Old Fort of Saint-Elme on Toulouse to Perpignan on 7 day tour.
Old Fort of Saint-Elme

Today we explore along the Vermeille coast towards Spain. Lunch in Porte Vendre – this seaside resort is a natural harbor and today this bustling little marina is filled with local fishermen selling their daily catch directly from their boats. Sample freshly caught fish at one of the many seafood restaurants scattered across the port. 

In the afternoon we visit Collioure, a pretty seaside village filled with brightly painted fishing cottages and narrow cobbled lanes. Here we climb up to the old Fort of Saint-Elme for incredible views across the Mediterranean and surrounds before visiting the imposing Royal Castle where your private tour shows how the Catalan Kings lived in this sumptuous palace.

In the afternoon take advantage of the crystal clear waters and head off the beaten track and explore smaller coves and beaches before heading to one of the award-winning wine estates for a private tasting of the region’s best wines.

French law dictates that every liter of wine must contain 254 grams of sugar. The resulting wine is a deep rich red color, sweet and strong flavor, a perfect dessert wine that also works with cheese and chocolate – delicious… 

We had a wonderful time. The hotel was perfect, and the staff could not have been more helpful. Netia and her family had a trouble free journey, and their driver got them to hotel, having battled through the traffic on the peripherique, on the dot of midnight. The rooms were very comfortable, and breakfast superb. The waffle machine was a great hit with the two girls! Bruno was a completely star. He took us to the Cadre first on Saturday morning, but there was a large bus load just in front of us which we allowed to go ahead of us (you could say typically English!) with the result that we missed our starting slot, but quite honestly it did not matter two hoots. We went to the market in Saumur instead. We loved the cruise, and the couple who ran it were delightful. We managed to see every chateau we had mentioned, going inside Villandry, Chenonceau and Cheverny. We had a delicious dinner on Saturday night, and a special mention too for the 1519 restaurant where they looked after us very well. Thank you for the very personal service you gave us, you got it absolutely right.

Day 7: Collioure to Narbonne and Toulouse

Private tour of Cathedral of Narbonne, France.
Cathedral of Narbonne, France

Heading back towards Toulouse we stop in Narbonne – home to stunning beaches, tree-lined avenues, and impressive architectural buildings. 

Despite being on the South coast of France and not far from the chic Riviera this seaside resort is unknown to many tourists – in fact, only 20% of its visitors are not French which makes it a great place to visit during the busy summer months. 

Our tour starts at the impressive Gothic Cathedral that dominates the skyline. Inside is no less impressive with a 42 M high vaulted ceiling and intricate stained glass windows. 

Standing next to the cathedral is the Archbishop’s Palace which is now home to museum and art gallery exhibitions and beautifully ornate manicured gardens. Lunch in one of the pretty cafes that line the piazzas before exploring the L’Horrium, a series of secret underground tunnels and caves believed to have been constructed in the 1st Century BC – it’s also a great way to cool down during those hot summer months!

Your week-long tour comes to an end when your private chauffeur takes you to check in at Toulouse for your onward journey.

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Salut from France! I’m Debbie, founder of Luxury France Tours.

Having developed into a Francophile on a trip to the French Alps many years ago while still in school, I moved to France after a career traveling the world led to me meeting my (now) French Husband in Johannesburg. I created Luxury France Tours as a way of sharing my love of France & igniting this passion in others.

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