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For anyone who likes wine, the Bordeaux region is one of life's fortunate coincidences. If you'd like to see and taste Bordeaux's finest export in the flesh, the success of the wine trade means that virtually every flat surface around the city of Bordeaux seems to be sprouting grapes of some description, and hidden among the endless vineyards are some spectacular chateaux built with the proceeds. The small and largely car-free centre of Bordeaux itself is definitely worth a visit as well, with some excellent shopping and restaurants serving food fit to combine with the wine. Food, wine, shopping and culture - not a bad way to spend a luxury holiday!

New luxury hotels in and around Bordeaux are opening up all the time, and Original Travel visits the area on a regular basis - for research purposes, naturally - and can arrange holiday itineraries to include private and completely exclusive vineyard visits and access to the cellars of some of the best wine-makers in the world.

Vinophobes in Bordeaux need not despair as there are excellent spas, bicycle tours and pretty good weather to enjoy if you'd rather avoid hearing about warm, earthy flavours with vibrant citrus undertones and hints of vanilla.

Inland from the bacchanalia of Bordeaux lies a different, altogether sleepier part of France - the magical and ancient Dordogne, home to the descendants of the original tribes of ancient Gaul, and not much changed since the Romans departed.

This is a land of castles (1,001 if you believe the marketing spiel), impossibly pretty medieval villages and limestone cave systems home to artworks left by the regions even earlier inhabitants, some 30,000 years ago. Many of these Paleolithic paintings are - understandably - completely off limits, but you can still see the uncannily realistic recreations of mammoths and wild horses drawn by our ancient ancestors in a couple of places in the Vzre valley. Not to be missed on a luxury holiday.

The Dordogne is also perfect for mountain biking, trekking and canoeing along the region's eponymous river itself.

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chateau vineyard
If You Do Three Things
Chateaux And Wines

Bordeaux, the oldest and largest wine region in the world, is home to thousands of elegant chateaux and impressive vineyards. Discover the wonderful array of wines and learn about the long history of winemaking. Visit the small village of Saint Emilion to wander the small cobbled streets and take in the views of the vineyards and embark on a tour to see the old cellars and taste plenty of wines.

beach arcachon bay
If You Do Three Things
The Arcachon Bay

Nestled on the southwestern coast of France is the charming and diverse Arcachon Bay. Climb the Dune of Pilat (Europe's highest sand dune), admire the scenery from Cap Ferret's lighthouse and stroll around the small villages to see the Belle Epoque buildings. Learn about the history of oyster farming and indulge in these fresh delicacies either with bread and butter or with a squeeze of lemon.

Bordeaux bridge
If You Do Three Things
Walking Tour Of Bordeaux

The city of Bordeaux - a classified "City of Art and History" - is a perfect representation of French culture, lifestyle and wine. On a stroll around the city, see the beautiful buildings of the historic Saint Pierre District, enjoy panoramic views from the tower of Saint Michel church and learn about the long history of wine in the magnificently modern Cite du Vin museum.

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Bordeaux & The Dordogne
Bordeaux & The Dordogne
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Map of Bordeaux & The Dordogne

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A Note on Price

A no-expense spared weekend on the Côte d'Azur can cost upwards of £2,500pp. Or, take a self-catered villa in Provence, arriving in comfort via the train to Aix en Provence and your luxury holiday over the May half-term week can be taken care of for less than £10,000. Based on 8 people self-catering.

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