Drifter Sister
Small Group Tour of France

 

 

Africa

Tours to AfricaThis is a thrilling two-week safari to Kenya during the annual migration. Plus, your photos will be amazing because renowned photographer and teacher, Jeff Sink, will be along to help you get stunning photos.

 

We are also offering a 10-day pre-trip that begins in Victoria Falls, and then heads to Botswana for game drives in the Okavango Delta.

 

The 8-day Namibia post-trip treats you to the unique experience of the Sossusvlei desert featuring the famous red, and tallest, sand dunes in the world.

 

Croatia & Montenegro

Tours to Croatia-MontenegroThis small group tour combines one of the latest ‘must see’ destinations, Croatia, with a wonderful little country under most folks’ radar, Montenegro – a hidden gem if there ever was one.

 

We begin our adventure in Dubrovnik, Croatia, as we board our mega-yacht, M/S Splendid, and begin our exciting 7-Day Island Hopping Cruise through Croatia’s Dalmatia Coast

 

Week two is on land, exploring the wonders and mysteries of lovely Montenegro. Transported by deluxe motor coach, we begin our journey by climbing the scenic old mountain road to “Old Montenegro,” and each day a new adventure awaits.

 

 

Cuba

Tour Cuba

If you have been wanting to see Cuba, now is the time to do it, before it becomes spoiled by a rush of American tourists.

 

Come with me… experience the quirky, sometimes unpredictable and chaotic, yet enterprising life of the Cuban people. Witness their spirit and ingenuity. Marvel at what they can do amidst the crumbling infrastructure. Travel the nearly deserted highways through the gorgeous countryside, with cowboys on horseback, and horse-drawn carts interspersed among the classic cars, trucks and buses.

 

This is a Catch the Wind tour you won’t want to miss, especially now, before Cuba changes, and before the onrushing crowds ruin it.

 

 

Greece & Turkey
Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Can you imagine two weeks immersed in two of the most exotic and archeologically rich civilizations of the world? You can experience it all on our small group tour of Greece and Turkey.

 

Our tour of Greece will combine conventional cruising with private yachting aboard the 25-cabin Harmony V mega yacht. We will visit the famous islands of Mykonos and Santorini along with many of the smaller, beautiful islands.

 

An optional small group land tour of the Pelloponnese is available for touring classical sites like Olympia, Delphi and Meteora.

 

Our small group tour of Turkey includes the enchanting city of Istanbul, a cruise on the Bosphorus strait, and a visit to the Cappadocia region.

 

Istanbul is a unique city combining Eastern and Western cultures. It is set in an amazingly beautiful location that everyone should visit at least once.

 

Cappadocia is a stunning area of other-worldly rock formations, subterranean churches and underground dwellings.

 

Ireland

Tours to IrelandFor two weeks our small group tour of Ireland will explore the Emerald Isle, escorted in our luxurious and spacious motor coach.

 

We will discover the myriad beautiful, charming and mysterious sights, sounds, and tastes of the Emerald Isle, making a wide circle, primarily around the coast. ‘Must See’ locations, such as Cliffs of Moher, Kilkenny Castle, Ring of Kerry, Killarney, the ‘Quiet Man’ country of Connemara, and more will be interspersed with lesser known local gems, such as Cobh, Doolin, the Aran Island of Inish Mor, and New Grange.

Luxurious Spa

Luxurious SpaOur small group tour of a week of pampering at Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico is an experience you don't want to miss.

 

This family-owned and operated Spa has been in operation since the mid 19th century and is the most relaxing and beautiful place one can imagine. And it’s a great bargain!

Spain

Tours of Andalucia, Spain

This small group tour of Spain is an in-depth exploration of a most treasured region - ANDALUCIA!

 

Rich in Spanish traditions influenced by the ancient Moors, sunshine, olive groves, white pueblo villages, tapas, Sangria... Spain's Andalucia contains all this and more, and we will have two weeks to enjoy it to the fullest!

 

Highlights include three guided tours, a visit and show at the famous Andalucian Equestrian School, and an authentic Flamenco Show at an intimate, locally owned establishment. Two meals are included daily, as well as rental cars, including gas.

 

Lodging will be in Haciendas and hotels, conveniently located within walking distance of historic city centers, shops and attractions. Three 4-night stays help make this an in-depth experience and adventure you don’t want to miss!

 

Tuscany

Tours to TuscanyStaying in a villa on a small group tour of Tuscany is one of the least expensive, and perhaps most rewarding, travel experiences one can enjoy.

 

We stay one week each in two villas, which are strategically chosen for convenient day trips throughout central Tuscany. First is Borgo Corsignano, a renovated medieval village in the lovely Casentino Valley. Our second villa is San Giuseppe, near Sienna, a big, old restored farmhouse with six bedrooms (all with ensuite bathrooms).

Let's Go to France!

 

Sept 14-29, 2018

Paris Pre-Trip Extension Sept 11-15

 

DATES CHANGED TO

 

Sept 29 - Oct 13, 2018

Paris Pre-Trip Extension Sept 25 - 29

 

 

Thanks in part to the feature story about this tour in the July 2013 issue of ITN (International Travel News) magazine, these tours sell out quickly!

Summary

 

Small group tour of FranceWe will spend one night in Paris and enjoy a meet and greet dinner. The next morning we will make our way to Narbonne in first class, assigned seats on France's fast train, the TGV, arriving in Narbonne in the late afternoon. Here we will pick up our two rental vehicles at the train station and drive to our Chateau in Agel. That first evening and next day will be spent settling in, relaxing, and exploring our castle grounds and little village of Agel.

 

During the next two weeks of our small group tour of France, we will discover the beautiful villages of the Minervois-Languedoc region of Southern France. We will visit the coastal, artistic, and historic locales within driving distance, including the best-preserved medieval city in France, Carcassonne; the lovely coastal artist-enclave of Collioure; Tour region of Southern Francethe 'second Paris' of the south, Montpellier, and so many more. This region is the perfect place for the best tours of France. Each day holds a surprise adventure into the history, culture, and cuisine of the region. The itinerary has been developed keeping in mind a balance of relaxation and discovery. This region is rich in history (primarily Roman Colonization, and the Cathar movement, which provoked the Albigensian Crusade) and wine production. We will meet the locals and immerse ourselves in their daily routines, including greeting the bakery truck three mornings a week. We will enjoy a lunch at a farmhouse, meet a local olive grower with a tour of his ancient family grove, enjoy a tour of the local olive co-op, and check out Canal du Midi. All of this, accompanied by our very own translator, and logistical guide.

 

Best tours of FranceChateau d'Agel is an authentic 12th century castle, renovated to modern standards. For two amazing weeks you will truly feel like a princess (or prince) as you relax amidst your Louis XIV period furnishings, climb the gently ascending spiral staircase within one of the turrets to sleep in your large, lovingly furnished bedrooms. Outside the walls of the castle is the sweet little village of Agel, population ~200, which still looks and feels like the 12th century community established to support the castle it once was.

 

Ten lunches and a catered dinner are included. Breakfast items and light snacks for evening are provided for preparation by the guests in the self-catering kitchen. The itinerary will continue to be refined, piggy backing on successful Let's Go to France tours. There are other attractions being considered, and the daily order of events may be moved around. Remember, you will not be forced to go out every day, either. You may wish to 'chill' at the Chateau, which has a very nice large pool, as well as several acres of grounds, or explore the village and surrounding area.

 

A pre-trip 3-night extension to Paris (Sept 12-16) is also offered (Click on Price tab for details).

 

Wine Tour while on Drifter Sister Catch the Wind TourCanal Ride while on Drifter Sister Catch the Wind TourEiffel Tower, Paris

 

 

Itinerary

 

Although every effort will be made to adhere to this itinerary, it is subject to tweaking as conditions dictate and better alternatives present themselves.

 

 

Day 1 - Arrival in Narbonne

 

(Chateau d'Agel)

Chateau d'Agel, Drifter Sister Catch the Wind Tour

 

  • Take the high-speed TGV train to Narbonne
  • Have lunch on the train
  • Meet our guide, Bonnie, and pick up the vans
  • Arrive at Chateau d’Agel, settle in and discover life in a castle
  • Enjoy light evening refreshment
  • Early to bed for rest and rejuvenation

Day 2 - Recovery & Orientation Day

 

(Farmhouse Lunch)

Farmhouse Lunch near Agel, France while on Drifter Sister Catch the Wind Tour

 

  • Breakfast at Chateau
  • Lunch at Farmhouse
  • Afternoon of leisure at Chateau d'Agel
  • Evening Snacks

Day 3 - Local Area

 

 

  • Breakfast at Chateau
  • Visit olive grove
  • Lunch included
  • Tour of L'Oulibo Olive Co-op
  • Evening snacks

Day 4 - Albi

 

 

  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Visit Albi
  • Lunch on your own
  • Evening snacks

Day 5 - Narbonne Discovery Day

 

 

  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Visit central Narbonne, museums, Roman sites, market
  • Museum Pass included
  • Lunch in Narbonne
  • Evening snacks

Day 6 - History

 

 

  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Visit Carcassonne
  • Palace Tickets included
  • Lunch on your own
  • Evening Snacks

Day 7 - Cathar & Early Man Day

 

 

  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Visit Cathar Castle at Queribus
  • Ticket for climb to castle included
  • Lunch included

Day 8 - Cathar Day

 

(Cathar Castle)

Cahar Castle, France

 

  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Visit charming town of Pezenas
  • Lunch included
  • Evening snacks

Day 9 - Sunday - Day of Relaxation and Leisure

 

  • St Chinian Sunday market or find local attic sales
  • Lunch at La Sellette
  • Relax in Agel, swim, hike along river or to nearby towns
  • Evening snacks

Day 10 - Day by the Sea

 

(Collioure)

Coullioure

 

  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Visit Collioure (seaside town)
  • Ride on Tourist Train included
  • Lunch on your own
  • Evening snacks

Day 11 - Canal and Village Market Day

 

(Canal du Midi)

Canal du Midi, France

 

  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Visit Olonzac market
  • Lunch near canal included
  • Afternoon relax at Chateau
  • Catered dinner at home with Chateau owners

Day 12 - Montpellier ("Paris of the South")

 

 

  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Montpellier with guided city walking tour
  • Lunch included
  • Evening snacks

Day 13 - History and Sightseeing Highlight

 

(Chateau de Salses)

Chateau de Salses, France

 

  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Visit Chateau de Salses (fortress)
  • Lunch in Gruissan & visit Salt Museum
  • Evening snacks

Day 14 - Local Area

 

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Wine Tour while on Drifter Sister Catch the Wind Tour

 

  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Visit Minerve
  • Museum tickets included
  • Lunch in Minerve
  • L'Oulibo last minute souvenir shopping
  • Prepare for departure
  • Evening snacks

Day 15 - Travel Day

 

  • Up early
  • Breakfast at the Chateau
  • Drive to Narbonne, drop off rental cars, catch train to Paris and fly home

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Inclusions

 

Included

 

  • Airport Transfer CDG to Paris Hotel
  • 1 Night's Lodging and 1 Dinner in Paris, pre-trip
  • Round-trip Train from Paris/Narbonne
  • 2 Weeks Lodging in Chateau d'Agel
  • Ten Lunches, plus Catered Dinner at Chateau
  • Visit to Canal du Midi
  • Guided Tours and Entrance to Attractions per Itinerary
  • Supply of Breakfast Items, and Fruit, Bread, Cheese & Snacks (plus a little wine) for evenings
  • Transportation in two vehicles
  • Local translator
  • Relaxed Itinerary, including local wineries and historical attractions

 

Not Included

 

  • Airfare
  • Three Lunches
  • Trip Insurance (Highly Recommended – ~5% of trip cost – Travel Guard available)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accommodations

 

Chateau d'Agel, Drifter Sister Catch the Wind TourIn the heart of France’s Minervois region, nestling at the foot of the Black Mountain, lies the village of Agel. Its Château is one of a line of fortified castles where the vassals of the Count of Toulouse resisted the Albigensian crusade in the 13th century. This superb medieval castle dates from the 12th century onwards, and consists of the main building, four towers and a dovecote. Its extensive terraced gardens covering 2 hectares (5 acres) offer lovely views over the Cesse valley and the Pech mountain - the ideal setting for a quiet walk.

 

Chateau d’Agel has a rich history. It has been in the owner’s family for generations, and through the years it had begun to deteriorate. In the last several years, Martine and Jean-Marie have lovingly renovated it to modern standards, yet masterfully maintained the original castle integrity and ambience. Five of the seven bedrooms are on the second level, surrounding a large seating area, and have two twin beds. Two additional bedrooms are on the third level, in what can only be described as the “princess tower.” Six of the bedrooms have large, modern, ensuite bathrooms (four with showers, three with bathtubs with handheld shower fixtures). On the ground floor is a large and fully equipped kitchen, dining room, and multiple sitting areas including a Chateau d'Agellibrary/TV/sitting room, as well as a large common bathroom with two stalls, for the convenience of those not wishing to ascend the stairs to the bedrooms to use the facilities. Wi-Fi is available throughout the castle and on the grounds.

 

The village of Agel is tiny and very charming. Surrounding the castle walls, it was originally established in support of the Chateau. The people are friendly and welcoming. Our translator/guide, Bonnie, lives with her husband in a house just outside the castle walls, just a few feet from the entrance way. Gerard, a resident of the village and olive grower, will graciously host a tour of his groves. The bread truck comes by three mornings a week with typical French breads and pastries, of which we take full advantage. If you would like to feel, firsthand, the charm of modern French village life, steeped in the traditions of the past, this is the trip for you.

 

 

 

Chateau d'AgelChateau d'AgelChateau d'Agel Chateau d'Agel

 

 

 

 

Price

 

LET’S GO TO FRANCE - 2018

$3,450* per person, double occupancy

(If taking Paris Pre-Trip, subtract $150)

 

Single Supplement $800
(an attempt will be made to pair you with a roommate if you want, but there is no guarantee)

 

DEPOSIT AND FINAL PAYMENT DUE DATES

 

$800 Deposit due March 10, 2018, or upon sign up after this date

$2,650 Final Payment due August 10, 2018

 

PARIS PRE-TRIP EXTENSION

(Includes 3 nights hotel, 2 meals daily, 2-Day Museum Pass, 1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off (HOHO) Bus Pass, x-port to/from airport)

 

$1000* per person, double occupancy
(w/o HOHO Bus and Museum Pass, subtract $100)

 

Single Supplement $250

__________________________

 

*All prices subject to change until December 2017, and are based on a currency rate of euro 1.2 or less. If it goes above this rate, the price of the trip may go up.

 

Cancellation Policy: If you must cancel 120 days prior to departure (for any reason), you will receive 100% refund of any monies you have paid to Drifter Sister, less the price of train ticket if it has been purchased. (Also applies to Museum Pass and HOHO bus ticket, in the case of Paris.) If a cancellation occurs between 119 and 75 days prior to departure, you will receive a 75% refund of any monies you have paid to Drifter Sister, less the price of train ticket if it has been purchased. (Also applies to Museum Pass and HOHO bus ticket, in the case of Paris.) In the case of a cancellation after 75 days prior to departure, a 50% refund of monies paid to Drifter Sister, less the price of train ticket if it has been purchased (also applies to Museum Pass and HOHO bus ticket, in the case of Paris), will be allowed only if the trip is full and a replacement can be found for you. Otherwise there will be no refund.

__________________________

Notes:

1. This price is based on a currency exchange rate of 1.2 euro to the dollar. If this rate increases more than 10%, the price is subject to an adjustment.

2. Two of the bedrooms discreetly share a large bathroom, and a slight reduction in the price of the trip is offered for those staying in these bedrooms, on a first come, first served basis. Please let me know if you would like to take advantage of this opportunity.

 

 

 

How to Book

 

How To Book

 

  • Send an email of your interest to ihla@driftersister.com, or call Drifter Sister at 702-294-4365.
  • Secure your spot on the 2018 Let's Go to France tours by sending $100 Good Faith check (made out to Drifter Sister) to the following address (do not do this until you have first contacted Drifter Sister to make sure there is space available):

 

Drifter Sister
P.O. Box 60042
Boulder City, NV    89006

 

OR

 

Pay through PayPal

 

(For your convenience we offer this credit card payment option for the Deposits. A fee will not be charged for the Good Faith Deposit. However, for the Trip Deposit, we must include PayPal's 2.9% fee.)

 

Payment Type

 

  • When the Good Faith deposit is received, sign-up paperwork will be sent to you via snail mail. Please let me know if you would prefer it to be sent via e-mail.
  • Deposit for the 2018 trip is $800, and is due by March 10, 2018, or upon sign-up after this date.
  • Final payment of $2,650 will be due on August 10, 2018. A separate invoice will be sent to you for this payment.
  • Good Faith and Initial Deposits can be made by PayPal (see above). All other payments must be by check made out to Drifter Sister.

 

NOTE: Your Good Faith deposit is applied to the cost of the trip, and is fully refundable if you must cancel for any reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAQ

 


 

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS

 

Q. Are there physical limitations for this trip?

A. Active adults of all ages are welcome. You will need to be able to get on and off trains, take care of your own luggage*, and walk a lot. Some accommodation can be made for those with less stamina, such as dropping you off at the top of a hill before parking, and there are 'lifts' at the train station. The bedrooms at the Chateau are on the second and third floor, up a wide and gently ascending, winding staircase. If you feel you might be somewhat limited, give me a call and we'll assess your situation. I am sorry, but I cannot accommodate wheelchair-bound clients. *on/off the train Paris/Narbonne; once up to the second- or third-floor room at Chateau and once down; and at Paris hotel if you do the extension.

Q. Is there a limitation on luggage?

A. No. However, I strongly suggest you not bring large pieces of luggage.

Q. What is a reasonable size for luggage?

A. One medium-sized bag (maximum 26") and one small carry-on per person. As you pack, remember that nothing fancy is planned. One nice-casual outfit for evening dinners is appropriate, but t’s and jeans (or equivalent) are fine for daytime outings. There is a nice washing machine, dryer and clothesline at the Chateau. If you are a couple, each should have his/her own medium-sized piece of luggage (maximum 26") , instead of sharing one big one.

Q. What is the dress code for this trip?

A. We will not be doing anything fancy, so casual is fine. Jeans or equivalent and casual tops or T-shirts work well. However one nicer casual outfit is good to have along for the nicer lunches and catered dinner. Keep in mind most churches do not allow sleeveless tops or shorts.

Q. What will the weather be like?

A. It should be reasonably warm when we arrive in late August or early September, with the potential of cooling off a bit by the end of the trip. I suggest at least a light jacket, and an umbrella or raincoat is essential. The following is provided as a guideline.

Average temps in September:

- Paris - hi 70, low 55, Precipitation: 2.1 inches (8 days)

- Narbonne - hi 77, low 60, Precipitation: 1.7 inches (11 days)

Q. Do we need airline tickets?

A. No. But remember to bring your flight e-ticket documentation to the airport with you, and keep it with you the entire trip. You will need it to do your initial check in, both coming and going. You should be able to log on to the airline web sites to check in on-line and print your boarding passes in advance if you like (within 24 hours of the flight). Don’t be alarmed, though, if it won’t let you print the boarding pass; sometimes international flight check-in must be done in person at the airport. You may also call the airline and give them your frequent flyer number to ensure you receive credit for your miles. Or be sure to have your frequent flyer number with you and do it at the airport upon arrival.

Q. Do you have any recommendations for reading prior to going on the tour?

A. This area is rich in Roman history (Narbonne was the first Roman settlement outside of Italy), as well as a fascinating period in French history relating to the Cathar movement, which sparked the Albigensian Crusade. Our visits to Carcassonne, Minerve, and Albi will bring this home. If you would like to learn more about this period, you might consider picking up one or more of the following:

- The Perfect Heresy, by Stephen O’Shea

- Massacre at Montsequr, by Zoe Oldenbourg

- Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln

 

CHATEAU

 

Q. Can we prepare our own meals at the Chateau?

A. Yes. There is a fully equipped kitchen, and convenient grocery stores nearby.

Q. Do we all have our own bathroom?

A. Four of the bedrooms have a bathroom en suite. Two of the bedrooms share a large bath. I usually put a single in the smaller of these bedrooms (without charging a single supplement) and the two people willing to be in the other bedroom, sharing with this one other person, receive a $200 discount on the price of the tour. This usually only works with three single gals; however it could also work with two couples, or a couple and a single who know each other well. There is also a service bathroom on the ground floor with two stalls, for use when you do not wish to go up to your bedroom to use the facilities. Three of the bathrooms have a shower, and two have tubs with handheld shower attachments. The bedrooms are allocated based on first to sign up gets first choice, and so on (exception: shared bedrooms when in use, which share a bathroom with a shower).

Q. Are the beds twins or doubles?

A. All of the rooms have two twins.

Q. Do we need to bring our own bedding, towels, etc.?

A. No. Bedding and towels are furnished. However, wash cloths are not provided. They are rarely provided in Europe. (Tip: consider cutting up an old towel into wash cloth sized squares. Bring a supply along, use one for a few days and then throw it out. Your luggage will get lighter each time, and you won’t have to worry about carting a damp wash cloth from place to place.)

Q. Are there clothes washing facilities at the Chateau?

A. Yes. The Chateau has a very nice laundry room.

Q. Do we need to bring our own laundry and hand soap?

A. Laundry soap is provided (they like a certain type to be used in their machines). One small courtesy hand/body soap is provided, but you may wish to bring your own bar, or several small bars. (Tip: save the last little bits of your big bars during the year, and keep them to bring along on trips.)

Q. Are there hair dryers at the Chateau?

A. Yes.

Q. Is there daily maid service at the Chateau?

A. No. However, the linens will be changed and the villa will be cleaned at the end of the first week.

Q. What about TP. I've heard the quality in Europe is not good.

A. Their TP is just like ours now.

Q. Will TP be provided?

A. Yes. Some is provided by the Chateau to get us started. I replenish as needed.

 

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ELECTRONICS

 

Q. Is Wi-Fi available at the Chateau?

A. Yes, but it is sometimes 'iffy' or off-line. It is usually adequate to keep up with your casual emails, etc., but do not expect this to be a reliable means to conduct business.

Q. Is there a computer available at the Chateau?

A. No.

Q. Are electrical outlets different in France?

A. Yes. You will need to bring an adaptor for Western Europe. This can be picked up at most luggage stores, and K-Mart or Wal Mart, or ordered on line through TravelSmith.com or Magellan.com. You can get some practical advice from my website, (Dealing with Electricity) and the website www.enjoy-europe.com. This is an excellent site. In addition to “Electricity in Europe,” check it out for articles on “Riding the Rails & Waves,” “What to Wear,” Driving the Roads in Europe,” “Communicating as You Travel,” and more. Converters will not be necessary for your electronic gadgets, however if you are bringing an American hair dryer and/or curling iron you will need a converter.

Q. Is there a TV?

A. Yes. There is a TV in the sitting room. Be aware that the channel selection is very limited. There is also a DVD player and several movies, as well as a CD player.

Q. Can I bring movies from home to use on the DVD player.

A. No. Do not bring DVDs from home because Europe has a different format so American DVDs do not work on their players.

 

TRANSPORTATION & DRIVING ARRANGEMENTS

 

Q. How will we get around while in France?

A. We will take the TGV Fast Train to/from Paris DeGualle Airport and Narbonne. We will pick up the two rental cars at the train station and drive the 45 minutes to the Chateau, and use these vehicles to travel around the area from there. For the Paris pre-trip extension, we will use taxis or a shuttle service to/from the hotel.

Q. Who will do the driving?

A. Bonnie (our interpreter/guide) and Ihla will do the driving.

 

SIGHTSEEING DESTINATIONS, MEALS, & LOGISTICS

 

Q. How far will we have to drive to the sightseeing locations?

A. The daily outing destinations will be between 30 minutes and two hours away.

Q. What if I don't want to go to a particular destination?

A. The itinerary for this tour is well established, and must be followed because lunch is furnished most days and reservations must be made for this and the included tours. However, if you wish to stay back, the Chateau and village of Agel is a pleasant place to spend a day, relaxing, taking a walk, or hiking. Some plain-old R&R at the Chateau might be your past time of choice.

Q. Is there a pool at the Chateau?

A. Yes. There is a nice pool, and weather permitting it will still be open when we are there.

Q. What hours do I need to look out for? For instance, do the French take a siesta mid-day like some other countries?

A. Yes. The French go home mid-day for lunch. Many attractions and most shops close mid-day (between ~1:00 and 3-4:00pm). And restaurants close between 2:00 and 7:00pm. So you need to be mindful of this and plan your day strategically. We will arrive at a destination early morning, giving you time to check out the shops and attractions, meeting at a restaurant around 1pm (they stop seating by 1:30 or 1:45, and actually close at 2pm, but they will stay until everyone has finished their meal). After lunch, we can visit more attractions and window shop until the shops open again at around 4pm, and head back to the villa when everyone is ready.

 

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MONEY

 

Q. I heard that credit cards are not always accepted and that we should bring debit cards for the ATM machine.

A. I have never had (or known anyone who has had) a problem using their Visa card. I’ve noticed some merchants will not take American Express, though (Discover might be a problem, as well), but usually Visa and MasterCard are accepted everywhere. You will need some cash (euros) while there, and it is best to use your ATM cards to withdraw from the ATM machines. Remember to check that it is has a 4-digit pin number. Foreign ATMs won’t accept more than 4 digits.

Q. What is the currency used in France?

A. The Euro.

Q. Should I get euros before I leave?

A. That’s up to you. If it’s convenient, through your bank, perhaps you might want to do so. But it’s not necessary, and I wouldn’t recommend it because there are usually fees involved. There are ATM machines available in almost every town we visit.

Q. How can I get euros while there?

A. ATM’s are everywhere, so you should have a debit card that enables you to withdraw funds

- Know your network

- Cirrus (Master Card) and Plus (Visa) are the most common.

- Make sure your checking account has enough funds in it to cover your anticipated withdrawals, just in case. The ATM’s don’t give you a choice of checking or savings, and they don’t transfer funds.

- Check your daily withdrawal limit before you go so you will know how much you can take out in a day.

- Check for fees imposed (so you won’t have any surprises). My credit union charges a 1% International transaction fee, banks may charge more. The ATM’s charge as well.

- European ATMs accept only 4-digit pin numbers (no letters). If yours has more than that, be sure you get it changed before you go.

- This is very important. Let your bank and credit card company know you are going. Otherwise, they may put a hold on your card and/or not allow your purchases.

Q. What can I expect to spend?

A. Although France is not cheap (the Euro is worth more than the dollar, anywhere from 30% to 50%), you will not have to pay for very much.

Q. What is paid for?

A. As delineated in the itinerary, breakfast and evening snacks are furnished, as well as all but three lunches. All transportation and attractions listed in the itinerary are also covered.

Q. What will I need to pay for?

A. - You will be on your own for three lunches.

- Museums and other attractions not on the Itinerary

- Alcoholic and other beverages not listed in the Itinerary

- Special pastries and snacks other than the basic items furnished

- Souvenirs

Q. What is the tipping etiquette in France?

A. - Restaurants – 10%, if not included in the bill already

- A common practice is the ‘bread’ or ‘table’ charge. It’s like a cover charge. Before you even order, 1-3 Euro is put on your bill. This is irritating, but let’s not complain and be ‘ugly Americans’ about it. It is especially prevalent in the nicer restaurants.

- For baggage handling: A tip of 1 Euro per bag

- Taxis: Just round up the fare

 

COMMUNICATING WITH THE HOME FRONT

 

Q. Is there a phone at the Chateau?

A. No.

Q. How can we get in touch with friends/relatives at home?

A. - You can use your mobile or SmartPhone, and coverage seems to be quite good. (You will need to talk to your carrier about coverage and charges while in France.)

- I have an iPad, which can be used for emails, and which you are welcome to use when I am not using it.

- We can also use the iPad for Skype calls, which allows free or very inexpensive calls to/from the U.S. You are welcome to use this for safe arrival and/or emergency calls.

 

NOTE: Please be advised that if you have important business to conduct while on this tour, it is your responsibility to make arrangements for communications.

 

Back to the Top

 

Photos

View of Poppi from Villa

 

Statue of David on Florence Tour

 

Volterra Amphitheater

 

Testimonials

2013

 

"As always, Ihla has organized another FABULOUS trip.  This is my fifth trip, and I could not be happier.  Ihla's trips are a GREAT combination of touring the region you are located in along with relaxation.  It makes for a perfect combination, and I highly recommend heading to France with Ihla." - Judi A.

 

"Our hopes for the tour and expectations were fully met.  We felt we were as fully immersed into the French culture as we could possibly be in a few weeks’ time."

- Ruth & Marty R.

 

 

2012

 

Testimonial for France tour"This was an excellent experience and quite affordable for all that was included. Staying in one location with day trips suited us perfectly, and the itinerary was varied and interesting. To me it was the perfect chance to enjoy historical sites, natural beauty, food and wine, local people, and comfortable lodgings. The printed material outlining each day’s destination enhanced our enjoyment of the places we visited, and we came away with an enhanced appreciation for French culture and history." - Margie & Cliff W.

 

"Paris can be overwhelming, especially for inexperienced travelers, but Ihla’s planning and attention to detail made the visit seem easy, pleasant and exciting.  From organizing taxis to lining up cafes and restaurants where non-French speakers could manage; from getting us to the Seine boat dock, on the boat and back to the hotel, down to guiding us through the huge crush of people at the Gare d’Lyon train station, we experienced no anxiety.  Her arrangements were the knife and fork for Earnest Hemingway’s “moveable feast!” - Margie & Cliff W.

 

Testimonials for France tour"All of the preparation in the pre-trip guidance could not prepare us for the most remarkable trip I've been on to date.  The Paris pre-trip was enough to whet my appetite to go back someday and spend more time there.  The "trip for your money" ratio for both Paris and southern France was well worth it.  Both Greg and I look at our pictures and reminisce about the fun times we had and the new friends we made." - Becky T & Greg L.

 

France testimonial"... Organization of itinerary was very good.  Bonnie and Ihla were always close to help and offer advice.  Cafes were clean and food was superb.  Many thanks to Ihla and Bonnie for their planning a sojourn to France which will be remembered for a long time.  The castle with its updated kitchen and bathrooms still had that ancient, medieval flavor yet it was not dark or dingy, but clean, bright and very roomy.  There are beautiful, luxurious grounds outside to relax, have a glass of wine or a bit to eat.  Or just take a pleasant walk around inside in the garden or sightsee outside through the narrow streets of A'gel and the high road above farmlands planted with grapes or olive trees. We learned about olive trees, olive oil, grapes and wine.  This trip has culture, education and time to play.  The French people were kind, and where needed, very helpful." - Charles H.

 

France tour testimonial"Even if you have visited France before, as I had on more than one occasion, I highly recommend this trip as it is impossible to get the experience of having nearly full run of an actual castle for two weeks." - Wendy I.

 

 

2009

 

“This trip more than met my expectations. The daily variety was outstanding – from seeing small villages, to large cities (Montpellier), the Mediterranean coast to the fabulous de Salses Fortress… visiting with local olive growers and vintners – we did it all. Of course, having Bonnie… as a guide made all the difference. The lunchtime meals were to die for… Paris was a special treat (being able to visit just what we wanted to). The small group made it a daily party of friends. Don’t miss your chance to see southwestern France!” – Jennifer H.

__________________

 

Letter published in International Travel News (ITN), June 2010

 

“Felt Like Royalty in France” [Excerpts]

By Nancy H.

 

   "I’ve learned a valuable lesson: don’t neglect the small ads in ITN.

   The “Let’s Go to France” package from Drifter Sister … provided us a wonderful two weeks in a castle first mentioned in the 14th century: Chateau d’Agel in Narbonne.

   In the comfortable, very old chateau – modernized with six baths and a new kitchen and with every chair and couch reupholstered – the 10 of us (nine women and one man) felt like royalty. While there, Oct. 3-16, 2009, we also had Internet access plus use of the laundry, the library and all the grounds.

   Days were spent at castles, ruins and markets in the Cathar region of Langueduc-Rousillon, with even a day trip on the Midi Canal.

   Our main three-course meal, most always at a predetermined restaurant, was at midday. Our evening meal was frequently at the castle, where we helped ourselves to wine, cheese, fruits and vegetables and desserts. One Sunday dinner, under olive trees at a farmhouse, took all afternoon and will not be forgotten.

   It was a unique and wildly fun time for we princesses…"

 

See the complete letter at http://www.intltravelnews.com/2010/06/felt-like-royalty-in-france

 

____________________

 

“Staying at the Chateau was like a real-life fairy tale.” - Margaret K.

 

 

“… you did a great job as moderator and trying to keep everyone happy. It certainly was well planned and executed and I think all of us had a great time. Pacing was good. I certainly have sung your praises to many... The farmhouse luncheon will be a wonderful memory for years to come. I can salivate just remembering it.” – Lisa K.