Bordeaux Vineyards

Price

£2,095.00 per person*

($2,744.45 USD or $3,477.70 AUD)

£200.00 deposit

£450.00 single room supplement

Dates

10th Sep to 16th Sep 2017

1st Oct to 7th Oct 2017

20th May to 26th May 2018

8th Jul to 14th Jul 2018

12th Aug to 18th Aug 2018

9th Sep to 15th Sep 2018

30th Sep to 6th Oct 2018

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"Just returned from the wonderful Bordeaux tour guided by the exceptional David & Susan duo who went out of their way to meet everybody's needs. We enjoyed the company of 16 lovely people, cycling through beautiful French villages, sampling good food, lot

-- Jill & Malcolm Rowe , Australia, July 2017

Highlights

  • Sweeping vistas across the Dordogne valley
  • Easy cycling through vineyards and charming villages
  • Explore the ancient cobbled streets of St Emilion
  • Traffic-free roads along the lower Dordogne and Garonne rivers
  • Wine tasting in prestigious Graves and Sauternes
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Join us for a cycling adventure. All you have to do is pedal


Joining the tour

Start

Pickups are from Libourne TGV station and Bordeaux airport.

Finish

Return to Bordeaux airport and TGV station.

Pick ups are from Libourne TGV rail station ( By prior arrangement only - Bordeaux airport.) 

Onward transfers are to Bordeaux airport and Bordeaux TGV rail station.

Cycling level

4 out of 10

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The lower stretch of the Dordogne river is rightly celebrated for the wines produced in its fertile valley, but there is so much more to the area that a biking vacation should not miss. The rivers are broad, meandering and majestic, and the hinterland is richly forested. Between the vineyards, fields of sunflowers and maize jostle for space.

Man has left his mark on the area from prehistoric times, with notable cave paintings at several grottes along the river valley. Later, the Romans arrived and vestiges of their works are scattered across the region. The region's heyday, however, came in the 12th century when King Henry II of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine and gained the Bordeaux region for the English crown.

The marriage led to a rivalry between France and England for control of Aquitane and the enormous English territories in France that would last for three hundred years. From 1154 to 1453, Bordeaux prospered under English rule, whose love of the region's red wine — claret to the English — helped the region gain a worldwide reputation for quality wines. This was the golden era for Bordeaux, and as a result, the region boasts suberb medieval architecture in the form of chateaux, churches, abbeys and monasteries.

As far back as the third century BC, when Bordeaux was founded by the Romans, the region’s wines began enjoying a favourable reputation. The vineyards cover 520 square miles spread over the valleys of the Dordogne and Garonne river system. This treasure chest of viticulture contains some of the most glittering stars of the wine-lover’s firmament: St-Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac in the Libournais to the east, Graves and Sauternes in the Entre-Deux-Mers region to the south-east, and Pauillac, St-Julien and Margaux in the Medoc peninsular to the north-west. Nestled in these famous appelations are Chateaux bearing some of the most famous (and expensive) names to be found on a wine bottle — Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Lynch-Bages, Mouton-Rothschild, Margaux, Yquem, Cheval-Blanc, Petrus… the list is endless!

Although there are some hills (no hills at all makes for less-than-inspiring landscapes!), we follow the rivers on predominantly easy cycling routes. Our cycling tour will take you on through some of the most famous vineyards in the world, but we will make sure you don't miss the other man-made and natural glories the region has to offer!

To view a map of the Bordeaux tour route click here

Day 1

Transfers are from Libourne train station and Bordeaux airport. Our hotel is in the heart of the Libournais wine region and lies on the edge of the prestigious Pomerol appellation. The hotel, in the village of Puisseguin, has its own winery. After making sure everybody is happy with their bicycles, we will take a short excursion into the vineyards of Pomerol.

The best Pomerols stand comparison with the best that St-Emilion has to offer. The most exclusive red wine in the world comes from Pomerol, the legendary Chateau Pétrus. We visit one of the more prestigious domains for a tasting. There should be time for a stroll into the hotel grounds and maybe a late afternoon swim in the hotel's inviting terraced pool before freshening up for the first of many memorable dinners.

Day 2

Heading east, the route takes us through the Montagne wine district, passing through typical wine villages, until we descend off the plateau towards the river Dordogne.

If time allows we will visit a local winemaker who will explain the grape growing process. We arrive in Moncaret, where a super crisp white wine is produced. As a diversion from all the grapes, we visit the ruins of a Roman Villa which overlooks the village; the excavations have uncovered some fascinating details about daily Roman life in the provinces of Gaul.

The rest of the day’s ride follows the Dordogne until we arrive at our Hotel, the Chateau de Sanse. Take time for a swim in the heated pool, or relax on the terrace overlooking a verdant valley with a cold beer or a glass of the local appellation, before an al fresco dinner of gourmet food.

Total distance: 46km / 27 miles

Day 3

Tuesday is a circular day, so we will be returning to the Chateau de Sanse this evening. Our route takes us to the Bastide (fortified village from the Hundred Years War) of Pellegrue; although the fortifications are now gone, the central square with its covered market remains, and is a great stop for a coffee break. We are now getting to the edge of the wine making region, and the vines start to be replaced by the source of another delicacy - plum trees!

Prunes, in particular the succulent, often armagnac-soaked varieties known as Pruneau d'Agen are a speciality of the region, and find their way into chocolates and other delicious treats. We'll stop at a producer to taste! Next on the route, and a great place for lunch, is the market town of Duras standing on a hill topped by its medieval fortress.

On the ride back to Sanse, we'll pop in to an organic wine producer in the Bordeaux Sainte-Foy appellation to get an idea of the work that goes on in the vineyard, and of course to try the results!

Total distance: 50km / 31 miles

Day 4

An easy day starting with an easy ride along the riverbanks of the Dordogne. After crossing the river at Castillon-la-Bataille, scene of the final defeat of the English in the Hundred Years War, we are now entering the heart of the Bordeaux vineyards, as we arrive in the Libournais. A gentle climb through the Côtes-de-Castillon vineyards sees us into the ancient ramparts of St-Emilion. In addition to its fabulous wines, St-Emilion is one of the prettiest towns in South-West France. Within its ancient walls can be found the 13C Château du Roi and, notably, the Eglise Monolithe – a church, dating from the 8th Century, carved from a single block of rock. We lunch in St-Emilion, then after lunch set out into the vines.

The famous wines of the surrounding vineyards include Château Cheval Blanc and Château Ausone, the best vintages of which are legendary, with suitably stratospheric prices. A short ride into the vines brings us to our boutique hotel, which is part of the Grand Cru Classé Château Franc Mayne.

Total distance:46km / 29 miles

Day 5

We head into the Entre-Deux-Mers wine region – although literally translated the name means ‘between two seas’ the seas in question are in fact the rivers Dordogne and Garonne.

After crossing the Dordogne we pick up the Roger LaPebie Cycleway, which is a converted railway track. This of course means that hills are not a problem, and navigation is a cinch! The first stop is the Abbaye de Sauve-Majeure. Classified a World Heritage Site in 1998 by UNESCO, the abbey was founded in 1079 and was once home to 300 monks.

Next to the Abbey is the Maison des Vins des Entre-Deux-Mers, which is a showcase for the white wines of the region.

After lunch we head south to cross the river Garonne into the Sauternes wine area. After a tasting at a vineyard specialising in this most highly regarded of dessert wines, we head for our Domaine hotel in the village of Barsac. 

Total distance: 52km / 33 miles

Day 6

Cycling northwards we are passing through the vineyards of the Graves region, home to the legendary Château Haut-Brion amongst the many great wines both red and white. We cycle through vines and forests on deserted roads, taking a tasting and visit at a winery of the Graves appellation. Graves has notable reds and a remarkably clear white, achieved by lowering the temperature in the early stages of fermentation so that all the impurities naturally filter out.

After lunch we rejoin the La Pebie cycleway, and make our way into Bordeaux itself to complete the week’s journey. Bordeaux has no shortage of attractions, from the beautifully restored 18th century Customs Houses lining the river to the sophisticated shopping along Rue Ste-Catherine. Our last dinner together will be at one of the many gourmet restaurants on which the city prides itself.

Total distance: – 56km / 35 miles.

Day 7

After breakfast, another chance to walk around the city, maybe to buy a bottle or two, and to exchange contact details with new friends, before making our way to the station or the airport for the journey home. You may like to stay on for day or two to explore the city or take a tour of the Medoc peninsular – let us know and we can organise bookings for you.

Not all cycle vacations are the same. Compare what is included in a French Cycling Holidays bike tour:

  • Flexible collection from local airport or train station
  • Quality Trek bicycles
  • Quality helmets (if required)
  • Water bottles (to take home as souvenirs)
  • Detailed riding instructions and colour route maps
  • Charming 3* (occasionally 4*) auberges, inns and hotels
  • Buffet style breakfasts with croissants, pastries, meats, cheeses and cereals
  • Gourmet dinners for all 6 nights of your holiday
  • Fine wine (or soft drink alternative) with all evening meals and coffee to follow
  • 2 experienced bilingual guides with each tour
  • Delivery of your luggage to your hotel room each day
  • Entry fees to attractions and historical sites
  • Morning onward transfers
  • An unforgettable experience!

We try to include as much as we can within the price, while keeping things as flexible as possible. With the explosion of low cost airlines and the easy access to the TGV rail system from the UK, we believe that it is more economical and convenient for customers to arrange their own travel to the region. Links to the airlines and railway companies can be found in frequently asked questions.

Transfers

We provide the transfers to and from the local airports and the nearest TGV stations, and other locations by arrangement. If you have driven down, we arrange secure parking for your car and return you to it after the tour.

Hotels

We stay in very comfortable hotels, mostly 3*, occasionally 4*, and very occasionally superior 2* hotels which we choose if they have charm and comfort above their rating. All rooms have en-suite shower or bath facilities.

We select our hotels for their character as well as their facilities, and avoid chains in favour of independent privately run hotels.

Prices are based on two sharing in twin or double rooms. Singles are available on request. Where possible, we choose hotels with swimming pools as there is nothing quite like a dip after a day in the saddle!

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Meals

All evening meals are included, and we carefully select the restaurants for cuisine and ambience, and favour those with a strong regional flavour.

All meals include a starter, main course and dessert, some will have an additional cheese course. We are happy to arrange for our restaurants to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies etc.

Bikes & Equipment

We provide lightweight alloy framed Trek ‘hybrid’ touring bicycles with 24 indexed gears, fully equipped with lock, pump and toolkit (although our guides will generally be on hand to fix punctures and minor mechanical problems).

For carrying the items you might need during the day (camera, wallet, windbreaker etc.) we fit a capacious handlebar bag which also features a large map pocket. These clip on and off the bike in a flash so that you can always take your valuables with you when off the bike.

The bikes are meticulously maintained and we keep a wide range of sizes; female specific saddles are also available. We do not provide helmets automatically, as we find people prefer their own if they want to wear one, and sizing and fit is quite personal; however we always have helmets available for use. We also carry rain-capes should they be required (but hopefully not!). For certain tours we also have available 27 speed drop-handlebar race-style bikes, and tandems may also be available on certain tours by special request. We hire these locally, and charge on the additional cost. 

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike.

Please contact us for details.

Jerseys

Our complimentary French Cycling Holidays jerseys are the ideal garments for cycling in the sunshine.

The high tech Coolmax™ fabric is engineered to keep users dry and comfortable especially during exercise. We have abandoned women's specific sizing as the difference in measurements expected for different parts of the anatomy meant that the womens specific fit rarely suited our customers. The fabric is stretchy so we have found that the mens' cut is normally fine!

             
Men's (Women's equivalent) XS (6)  S (8-10) M (12-14) L (16) XL (18) XXL
Chest (cm/in)

 90cm

 

98cm
38.5"
102cm
40"
108cm
42.5"
110cm
43.5"
117cm
46"

Please specify the sizes you require on the full Booking Form or by contacting us.

These are the armpit-to-armpit measurement of the unstretched jerseys. The women’s jerseys are fitted, while the men’s are a straighter cut. Both styles are quite close/slim-fitting so if you prefer looser clothing, you may wish to go one up from your regular clothes size. However being made from CoolMax technical fabric which stretches, they do have room if you find yourself halfway between a size – e.g. a women’s 12 would fit a 36” chest, or a men’s M a 41”/42” chest etc.

They also have silicon gripper strips around the waist to stop the jersey riding up the back when you are on the bike, and three standard rear pockets.

For more information on what to wear visit our FAQ page.

Guides and Backup

There will be two guides on every tour; one cycling with the group and one in the minibus which will follow the group. The bus carries all luggage not required for the day's ride and will always be available for anyone at any point during the day. If for instance you want to take a day off the bike, or if a particular day seems a little hard, the bus will take you for as long or as little as you wish it to.

Everybody is provided with detailed route maps for each day, and both guides are easily contactable by mobile phone. The guides are enthusiastic experts on the local area and will be able to sort out any problems or special requests that you might have.

Hostellerie du Chateau de Roques, Puisseguin

This 16th Century manor house has been converted to a 3* hotel and restaurant, with an attached winery of the Montagne Saint-Emilion appellation. The extensive grounds feature a terraced swimming pool, and the wonderful meals of the restaurant can be served on the terrace or in the amazing vaulted former castle kitchens.

Chateau Fleur de Roques

Château de Sanse, Sainte-Radegonde

An 18th Century château, sympathetically converted into a light and airy 3* hotel, with a noted restaurant. The 12 acres of grounds include woods and vineyards and a lovely swimming pool on the terrace.

Chateau de Sanse

Relais Franc Mayne, Saint-Emilion

Nestled in 9 hectares of vines on the outskirts of Saint-Emilion, the Relais is a delightful 4* boutique hotel, under the ownership of the Grand Cru Classé Château Franc Mayne, one of the most renowned wines of the region. Each room is individually styled and decorated.  Relax before dinner in the Billiard room or with a drink on the terrace overlooking the vines, before strolling to the elegant dining room for a sumptuous meal. 

Château d’Arche, Sauternes.

An 18th Century Charterhouse, included in the 1855 classification for wines created under the edicts of Napoleon III, the Château still produces a prestigious dessert wine. The hotel includes many of the original features, updated to the standards befitting a 4* hotel. The views across the Ciron to Sauternes village are dreamy, especially if the mists are rising from the stream.

Chateau d'Arche

or

Domaine de Valmont, Barsac

A majestic wine producer's property dating from the 18th century, situated in a wooded park in Barsac. In the heart of the Sauternais wine region, it is ideally situated for visiting several of the sweet wine producers; the hotel also has a wonderful table d'hôtes service, providing a sumptuous 4 course dinner for hotel guests.

Domaine de Valmont

Hotel Normandie, Bordeaux

In an 18th Century building in the heart of the historic sector of Bordeaux, two steps from the river, the 4* Normandie is ideally situated a minute from the Grand Theatre and the Esplanade de Quinconces, and a short stroll from the shopping streets of Ste-Catherine and the majestic riverside customs houses. The rooms in this traditional 4* hotel are very comfortable with wi-fi, air conditioning and all other amenities.

Hotel Normandie

It is sometimes necessary to change accommodation for reasons of room availability, minor adjustments to the route or upgrading the hotels. We will always endeavour to use hotels of an equal or higher level of comfort/facilities to those shown – please contact us to check for the most up-to-date information regarding your particular tour.

Below we answer all the most common questions that you might ask before choosing a French Cycling Holidays tour. If you have any further questions then please get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you.

How fit do I need to be?

Anybody who is reasonably active should be able to take part and enjoy our tours.

The tours have different levels of physical exertion — whilst the Loire Valley tours and Bordeaux tour are easy going; the Normandy, Provence Roman Heritage, and Burgundy tours are a little more strenuous, whilst and the Provence Lubéron, Dordogne and Languedoc tours require a reasonable level of fitness.

For nearly all of our tours an e-bike - electrically assisted bicycle - is an extra-cost option. These bikes apply a 'multiplier' to the level of input provided by the rider, the level of assistance can be adjusted for the terrain. This can be useful if there are members of your party have very different levels of bike-fitness and experience, as hills that look daunting suddenly become easy with an e-bike. Contact us via the contact page if you would like more details.   

The Sports tours are aimed at enthusiast cyclists who might want to bring their own road bikes. However, the rides are not races and there is no time limit - and there is always the minibus if things get too tough!

We would nevertheless recommend that anyone who has not taken any regular exercise for some time to consult their doctor before considering any activity based holiday. Bear in mind that a little regular riding before coming on a cycling vacation will always be a benefit to the experience.

How do I get there?

We pick up and drop off from the nearest international airports and TGV/railway stations to the start of each tour. (We can drop at a nearer airport or station by arrangement if more convenient for you and logistically possible). This gives everyone the option of making their way by the most economical or convenient means. The major options are:

Flying from the UK

Ryanair flies into following airports:

Nimes (for the Provence tours and Languedoc tours; Ryanair also fly out of Beziers and Montpellier for the Languedoc tour); Bergerac (for the Bordeaux tour), Dinard for the Normandy tour, Grenoble for Alpine trips and Pau (for the Classic Cols tour)

Ryanair operates out of Liverpool, London Stansted and London Luton Airports amongst others.

Easyjet flies into Montpellier (for the Provence tours) and out of Bordeaux (for the Bordeaux tour); it flys into Geneva and Lyon for Alpine tours and also out of Nice for the Alpine Raid.

British Airways prices can be reasonable if booked in advance — BA fly into Bordeaux for train transfers to Bergerac (Bordeaux tour), and Marseilles (Provence tours).

If we do not pick up from the airport itself, we will advise on rail connections from the airport to our pick-up points.

Rail for visitors from outside Europe / those already in France

The TGV can be an exceptionally quick way of reaching many French destinations from the UK and from Paris for those flying from overseas or UK regions.

The Eurostar SNCF (French National Railways) TGV websites may be useful. As a guide, London St Pancras to Avignon via TGV takes approximately 6½ hours; Tours takes 4 hours. From Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, the point of arrival for most intercontinental flights, Tours is 1½ hours by TGV, Avignon (for Provence) just over 3 hours.

Brive-la-Gaillarde is 4 hours from Paris by rail for the Dordogne tour. We are more than happy to advise on rail options — please contact us. Internet sales from the French SNCF site ( www.voyages-sncf.com sites are possible but are in French; the approved agency for the US and Canada is RailEurope ; however we are happy to advise and help with the French website.

Driving

This may be a good choice if your French Cycling Holiday is part of a longer stay. We will arrange secure parking for your car at or near our first hotel, and return you to your car at the end of the trip. (Note - this service may not be available on certain long distance sports tours - please check with us). The major ferry and crossing companies from the UK are Eurotunnel, P&O, Brittany Ferries, LD Lines, Speedferries and SeaFrance.

If it is more convenient for you to hire a car Europcar in our experience have the best rates for rentals where the drop-off is at a different location to the pickup.

However you choose to travel, we are very happy to help you sort out your itinerary.

What kind of pedals do you use?

Pedals are obviously fairly important on a cycling tour! We stock the following kinds:

Flat – i.e. no special cleats or grips, these pedals can be used with any kind of footwear. If you do not regularly use special pedals or cycling shoes, we recommend standard trainers/sneakers to wear while riding.

SPD/flat – we also have pedals with one side flat and one side an SPD cleat. This is the standard Shimano SPD compatible system; two bolts and the small cleat pictured on the shoe with the yellow sole. These cleats are ideal for cycling tours as the cleat is usually recessed into the bottom of the shoe. The pedals are visible to the right of the picture.

SPD/flat style pedals

Flats with cages – we have a small number of flat pedals with cages & straps – again if you are not used to this, we wouldn’t recommend starting a tour with them!

Other – we do NOT stock any other pedal systems. If you use any other kind of pedal, you are very welcome to bring your own and our guides can fit them to your bike for the week. However, we would advise against racing-style pedals such as the Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL or similar, as these tend to have a large, protruding cleat on the sole of the shoe which makes walking around visits or lunch stops (or even nipping into a public toilet!) quite uncomfortable and dangerous. Sports tours are a little different as there are much longer days and less off-the-bike walking – a choice is ultimately up to you though!

Can I use my own bike?

We are happy for anyone to bring their own bikes. However, the budget airlines charge around £50 each way and packing and carriage can be a hassle. Our Trek bikes are of a high standard, and our customers usually express pleasant surprise at the quality of the machines, so it might be a better option to bring your saddle and/or pedals which we will be very happy to fit. In any case there will always be a backup bike should you have a mechanical problem. Please feel free to call us for advice on bike transportation.

What should I wear?

The main thing that people who are not regular distance cyclists worry about is a sore behind. This is not as is popularly thought due to too-hard saddles, but friction between skin and garments. This is why professional cyclists wear skin-tight lycra shorts with padded inserts. Many people feel a bit self-conscious in this sort of gear and your local cycle shop will have a range of padded undershorts which can be worn under normal clothing, or regularly styled shorts with sewn-in padded liners. Otherwise, lightweight comfortable clothing (tee-shirts, shorts, trainers) is ideal, with something warmer like a fleece just in case. As we will be dining well, you might like to take something presentable (but not formal — no-one on a French Cycling Holiday stands on ceremony!) for the evening meal.

How many people on each tour?

As well as being an active holiday, sampling the best that France has to offer, we believe that our trips should be an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. Our groups are limited to a maximum of 16, which is the largest number that we can give a personal service to, and a minimum of 6 people, which we feel is the number needed to achieve a group spirit. If we cannot achieve this number, we may cancel the tour giving a minimum of five weeks notice.

What weather are we likely to encounter?

We time our tours so that the weather should be ideal for cycling for each tour. For that reason we have our Provence and Languedoc tours in the late spring and early autumn, rather than in high summer when it can be too hot to cycle comfortably after 10 a.m. The Loire Valley, Dordogne, Bordeaux and Burgundy tours are more temperate, which is why we concentrate these tours in July and August. We cannot guarantee the weather, but it would be very unlucky to have more than one wet day on any of the tours.

Are there any age limits?

There is no specific upper age limit — the only constraint is a reasonable level of fitness. Children between 10 and 16 are welcome as part of family groups. We do not recommend these tours for children under 10.

Do I need travel insurance?

We require all participants to have travel insurance with full medical cover. It is part of the conditions of our tours that participant should provide evidence of suitable cover. If you have any questions about the cover required please contact us for advice.

What financial protection is in place for my booking?

In accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992” customers of French Cycling Holidays Limited will be indemnified in respect of their net ascertained financial loss sustained arising from the cancellation or curtailment of the declared trip travel arrangements arising solely from the event of the financial failure of French Cycling Holidays Limited.

This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Hiscox Insurance Company Limited.

"Very enjoyable! The trip more than met our expectations; The winery tours were informative and well chosen; the home visit for dinner was very enjoyable!"

Melinda and Joseph, New South Wales, Australia


"We did four different tours in France in 2013 with four different companies. French Cycling Holidays was easily the best. (We did the Bordeaux tour.)

Nothing was too much trouble for our guides Mike and Rune. The bikes were well-maintained (believe me this is not always the case with some other tour companies), the routes were well planned and Mike and Rune were really knowledgeable about the region and its wines. The meals were fantastic and the picnics were a highlight.We enjoyed our tour so much that we recommend it to our friends and 11 of our cycling group (including us) are doing the Burgundy tour in 2015."

Andrea and Geoff, Geelong, Vic, Australia


“Excellent! Well run trip, beautiful countryside, I learned a lot about the wines (and winemaking) in the Bordeaux region, and enjoyed the side trips to the castle and Roman ruins. Lovely inns & chateaus and outstanding guides.”

Susan, Brussels, Belgium


 “A great experience & combination of cycling, wine tasting and great restaurants. Graham and Janice were an outstanding team that were both efficient + so delightful to spend time with. It made our holiday – thanks so much.”

Kevin & Judith, Buckinghamshire, UK


 “The itinerary was perfectly balanced – the length of visits, pace, and distance covered were perfect.”

Philip, London, UK

 

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