Undiscovered France – Featuring Albi, Toulouse & Carcassonne

Undiscovered France – Featuring Albi, Toulouse & Carcassonne



Home to ancient villages, glorious vineyards and beloved painter Toulouse-Lautrec, celebrate France’s southwest
region. From first-class accommodations in the lively provincial town of Albi, venture to nearby sites including the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec and the city of Toulouse, characterized by its pink stone landmarks and glorious St. Sernin Basilica. Embrace the quaint town of Castres, discover the fortified city of Carcassonne, see Château Comtal and Saint-Nazaire Basilica—known for its brilliant stained glass—and witness the Canal du Midi, a centuries old engineering marvel that connects the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.

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Trip Type
Group Travel Tour, International Land & Rail Voyages
Departure Dates
Apr 28, 2020 - May 6, 2020


Mercure Albi Bastides Hotel

The stately Mercure Albi Bastides Hotel occupies a former 18th-century water mill perched along the River Tarn, near picturesque arched bridges. From this historic building, explore cultural highlights such as the medieval Pont Vieux, river cruising aboard a scow, and provincial produce at Market Hall. Sip local vintage in the inviting Le Moulin Bar. La Vermicellerie serves regional French cuisine with river vistas and extends an alfresco option on the expansive terrace. Wi-Fi is complimentary.



Albi France map


  • day 1

    In Transit

    Depart for Paris, France.

  • day 2

    Toulouse, France | Albi

    Transfer to Albi and check in to the Mercure Albi Bastides Hotel. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

    Meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception, followed by a Welcome Dinner tonight.

  • day 3


    Enrichment: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. 
    Delve into the intriguing life of this brilliant 19th-century French artist whose art revealed the atmosphere of Paris’ bohemian era.

    Discovery: Exploring the Musée Toulouse Lautrec. 
    Activity level: Moderate

    Step inside the Berbie Palace to visit the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, home to the world’s largest collection of art by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a native of Albi. The collection features many of Toulouse-Lautrec’s world-famous posters depicting Montmartre’s working-class neighborhoods and unconventional lifestyles.

    Discovery: Walking Tour of Albi. 
    Activity level: Moderate

    Perched along the Tarn River, Albi offers a remarkable trove of Gothic architecture. Revel in the vastness of St. Cecilia’s cathedral, built between 1280 and 1492. Dominating the city center, the cathedral features elaborate carvings, a unique brick facade and an exquisitely painted interior.

    Enjoy an authentic lunch featuring regional cuisine.

    Discovery: Cruising the Tarn River. 
    Board a gabare, a traditional flat-bottomed wooden boat, for a relaxing cruise along the Tarn River.

  • day 4


    Discovery: Encounters in the Country. 
    Meet the gracious owners of a family-run dairy farm. Managed by two sisters who have a passion for animal welfare, the farm is home to sheep, cows, chickens and rabbits and uses both innovative and traditional milking methods. Tour the farm and taste the delicious cheese made on the property. Next, journey through the hills to a winery that produces a variety of delectable red, rose and white wines. Learn how the owners create bold, rich flavors through a combination of old and modern techniques. Then sample their wine varietals and tour the winery. Continue to the Degan family farm and settle in for a lunch of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.

    Discovery: Tour of Montauban. 
    Enjoy a visit to Montauban’s historic center with its 14th-century bridge, medieval lanes, neoclassical buildings, graceful architecture and the Place Nationale, an inviting central square bordered with pretty arcades and blush-hued buildings. Step inside the newly renovated Musée Ingres to see collections by Montauban native Jean- Auguste-Dominique Ingres and other artists.

  • day 5

    Castres | Carcassonne

    Discovery: Tour of Castres. 
    Activity level: Moderate

    Visit Castres, viewing the half-timbered craftsmen houses along the Agout River. Once home to tanners, paper and parchment makers, and dyers, these colorful houses stand tribute to the town’s storied success in the trade and textile industries.

    Discovery: Canal du Midi Cruise. 
    Glide on Europe’s oldest canal during this leisurely boat trip. Selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its amazing mechanical and engineering advancements, the canal snakes its way through the land’s natural contours.

    Discovery: Welcome to Carcassonne! 
    Activity level: Moderate

    Join your guide for an introduction to this walled, medieval citadel, which boasts over 1.5 miles of defensive ramparts as well as draw bridges, towers, spires and fountains.

    Free Time: Enjoy time at leisure amid the fairy-tale atmosphere of Carcassonne. You may wish to visit the Château Comtal, a medieval fortress with over 31 towers, or see the Saint-Nazaire Basilica, home to stunning stained-glass windows, rose windows and gargoyles.

  • day 6


    Discovery: Walking Tour of Toulouse. 
    Activity level: Moderate

    Explore “La Ville Rose,” France’s fourth-largest city. Located in the heart of France, many of the city’s facades are constructed of pretty red brick, creating a delightful vision of harmonious rosy hues throughout the town. Begin your walking tour in the Place du Capitole, a vast plaza anchored by classic 18th and 19th-century buildings, including the Capitole, a grand building with eight columns. Visit St. Sernin Basilica, the largest surviving Romanesque church in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is considered by many to be the most glorious of all churches along the way of St. James. Stroll along the waterfront and wend through the city’s old quarter, a blend of elegant restaurants, shady squares, trendy cafes and quaint shops. Then relax over lunch at a local establishment.

    Enrichment: The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade. 
    Join a local expert to learn about the turbulent relationship between the Catholic Church and the Cathars.

  • day 7


    Discovery: Cordes-sur-Ciel and Wine. 
    Activity level: Moderate

    Journey through the stunning Midi-Pyrenees countryside to Cordes-sur-Ciel, a village built high on a hill by the Cathars to protect themselves from papal crusaders. Meander along the cobbled lanes, viewing Gothic buildings constructed between 1280 and 1350, and marvel at sweeping views of the Cérou valley below.

    Enjoy a delicious lunch in Cordes-sur-Ciel.

    Continue traveling through France’s oldest wine-producing region. Visit a local winery for a tasting of Gaillac wines. Often characterized by delicate, dry whites and rich, fruity reds, Gaillac wines are sure to delight your palate.

  • day 8


    Enrichment: Contemporary France. 
    Examine France’s modern-day political, economic and social status.

    Free Time:Craft your own adventure in Albi today. Perhaps search for treasures along the village’s narrow pedestrian streets or find a special riverside viewpoint to revel in splendid views of Albi’s architecture and bridges.

    Toast to your French adventure tonight as you gather for a Farewell Reception, followed by a Farewell Dinner. Accommodations – Mercure Albi Bastides Hotel
    Meals – Breakfast and Dinner

  • day 9

    Transfer home

    After breakfast, bid farewell to Albi and transfer to the airport

Everything you need to know about the tour

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