France’s Magical Dordogne
in a Private Castle
May 27 – June 3, 2023
Join Alla Campagna Experiences Founder and professional tour organizer Ralph Velasco for a truly unforgettable stay in a private 11th-century castle. This trip will concentrate on the truly magical Périgord Vert region of the Dordogne department of southwestern France.
Guests will be picked up by private vehicle for a group transfer from Angoulême’s train station to the privately-owned Château de Marouatte.
Scroll down for a complete day-to-day itinerary and more details about this experience.
INFO ABOUT CHÂTEAU DE MAROUATTE*
Situated on 270 acres of gorgeously manicured grounds, but also wild forest, the castle is complete with comfortable and well-appointed single and double rooms, each with private bath.
There’s also a large swimming pool, games room, dining room, chapel (now used as a second dining room) and what is said to be the second largest pigeon house in all the Périgord Vert.
Needless to say, the castle is a destination in and of itself and has to be visited to be appreciated.
Château de Marouatte, as the French call it, is a genuine Medieval castle complete with battlements, moat, and guard towers set in natural woodlands and fields in one on the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of France. Richly decorated in antiques, art, tapestries and stained glass (and of course suits of armor) the castle interior is a feast for the eyes. Facilities also include a tennis court and Wi-Fi throughout most of the property.
The site dates back to Roman times when it was a guard post on the Roman road that used to run below. The castle was probably a wooden fort during the dark ages converted to stone in the late 1100s. The current castle dates from the early 1200s with the outer bailey added in 1569. We know it was fought over between the English and French for the next 300 years and also played a part in the French wars of religion.
* SPECIAL NOTE: Although the rooms are very nice, each with its own bathroom, guests are asked to please keep in mind that Château de Marouatte is made up of several different buildings with guest’s quarters and each is quite different from the others. All efforts will be made to pair individual guests and couples with an appropriate room taking into account the amount of stairs, location on the property, amount of walking, etc. And because this is truly a medieval castle, not everything in each room is absolutely perfect and so guests are asked to visit with an open mind as this is a part of the experience.
ABOUT THE PÉRIGORD VERT OF THE DORDOGNE
Located in what is called the Périgord Vert in the northwest Dordogne, Château de Marouatte (a.k.a. “the castle”) is about an hour’s drive south of Angoulême train station with high-speed trains to and from Paris arriving in about two to three hours. Bordeaux Airport (BOD) is approximately 2 hours by car and Bergerac is about 1:20.
Getting to the castle from the US or UK we advise taking the TGV fast train from Paris Montparnasse station (~2 hours) or Charles De Gaulle (CDG) Airport in just under 3 hours to Angoulême.
Participants will be picked up as a group on the first afternoon of the trip from Angoulême station, or you may choose to rent your own car for maximum flexibility during the trip.
May 27 – June 3, 2023
$4,800 per person in Double Occupancy.
Please add $400 for Single Supplement if you’d like your own room throughout.
Register for This Experience in 4 Simple Steps:
- Submit a Reservation Form.
- Read and agree to our Terms & Conditions.
- Provide a scan or smartphone photo of your passport’s signature page.
- Send in your $1,000 deposit or full payment.
To request the Reservation Form and Terms & Conditions for this experience please contact us at.
To make payment, you can use a credit card via PayPal (to request invoice) or deposit a check directly into our bank account at any Bank of America branch. Depositing a check affords a $50 per person discount.
We’ll send you all the payment details if you’ll CONTACT US HERE.
Ralph Velasco is a professional travel photographer, author and international guide and he’s the Founder/CEO (Chief Experience Officer) of PhotoEnrichment Adventures and Alla Campagna Experiences.
For more than 12 years, he’s organized and led over 100 international tours in a variety of locations around the world, just some of which include Romania, Portugal, Iceland, Egypt, Mexico’s Copper Canyon, Bhutan, Nepal, Central Europe, Morocco, Turkey, the Adriatic, Cambodia, Tuscany, Spain, Vietnam, India, and others.
Although originally from Chicago, for more than 7 years now Ralph has been what’s come to be called “location-independent,” which simply means he has no permanent home and lives on the road, and at 30,000 feet scouting, administering and leading his highly-rated and very popular tours which boast a more than 42 percent rate of repeat clients.
Speaking & Teaching
For more than 10 years Ralph has been a regular speaker about travel and photography at the prestigious Travel & Adventure Shows throughout the United States, as well as the New York Times Travel Show. He’s also been a featured speaker at the Travel Bloggers Exchange in Sweden, Ireland, Spain and Israel; the IOETI Conference in Cairo, Egypt; and has taught travel photography at U.C. Irvine Extension Program, Saddleback College, Santa Ana College, the Irvine Fine Arts Center, REI Outdoor School and others.
Education & Other
He’s got a B.S. in Small Business & Entrepreneurship from the Indiana University School of Business and an M.I.B.A. (Masters in International Business Administration) from United States International University in Mexico City, Mexico and San Diego, California.
Finally, Ralph’s been a member of several championship big boat sailing teams in Chicago, San Diego and Newport Beach, California; has his private pilot’s license (SEL); and speaks Spanish.
Daily Trip Itinerary
Most meals are included and B = Breakfast, L = Lunch and D = Dinner
Items mentioned below in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS are included in your fee for this experience.
Today, unless renting a car or arriving to the castle any other way on your own, you’ll want to take the TGV high-speed train from Gare Montparnasse or Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) or elsewhere to the station in Angoulême. As mentioned, you can also arrive via other methods but please know that we have a single pickup time and meeting point at the station in Angoulême.
5:00 pm – Please arrange your train or other transportation to Angoulême to arrive in plenty of time to make your GROUP TRANSFER to the castle.
N.B. These may be approximate times as exact train schedules are not released until about 60 days out from the date of travel. Additional instructions for purchasing your tickets will be provided as the trip approaches.
ABOUT THE TGV TRAIN TO AND FROM ANGOULÊME
For more information on the trains in France, if you haven’t already, please start your search at SNCF Connect or OuiGo, which, according to their website “is the official European distribution channel of the French railways (SNCF) for online sales of high-speed and conventional rail travel throughout France and Europe.”
Note: Guests arriving outside of this time frame will need to make their own arrangements to get to the castle, which is less than an hour away from Angoulême by car, but this may not be easy to do, that is unless you rent a car (be sure to get a GPS), which is perfectly acceptable and highly recommended as this will provide you complete freedom throughout the trip.
6:00 pm – Check in, relax and then GUIDED VISIT of Château de Marouatte by the castle’s owner, Miles Copeland, who if available, plans to be with us throughout the trip.
8:00 pm – WELCOME DINNER at the castle where you can enjoy a wonderful meal made by the castle’s chef, Chris, and his partner, Sam, and get to know your fellow travelers more in person.
9:00 am – BREAKFAST at the castle (served buffet style, come at your leisure)
10:00 am – Morning visit with time to walk around and discover the postcard town of Bourdeilles, situated right on the banks of the River Dronne with ENTRY TO CHÂTEAU DE BOURDEILLES. Be sure to look for the large redwood tree by the bridge.
12:00 pm – After we’ll TRANSFER and enjoy LUNCH at a riverside restaurant called Cabanon (or similar), located in the nearby village of Creyssac.
2:00 pm – Afternoon free to relax, swim or sit by the pool, play in the large game room, take a nearby hike (be sure to know your way back) or simply enjoy the castle grounds and interior.
7:30 pm – Tonight we’ll have DINNER at the castle.
8:00 am – BREAKFAST on your own at the castle.
9:00 am – TRANSFER and ENTRY TO VISIT Grotte du Villars, a truly incredible underground system of caves with a variety of stalactites and stalagmites that will surely impress. There are also several original paintings estimated to be upwards of 18,000 years old that we’ll be able to see. According to the manager and owner of this site, the cave system is thought to cover an area of 26 square km in total, but the part we’ll visit makes up just 500 square meters, or roughly .02% of the entire area.
Note: It can be cold in the cave so be sure to wear at least a sweater or jacket. And, sorry, but no photos are allowed inside the cave during our approximately 45-minute visit.
10:30 am – Next, we’ll visit Abbaye de Boschaud, an abandoned and derelict structure that is certainly worth a stop.
11:00 am – After our visit to the Abbaye you’ll have some free time to walk around another beautiful village called St.-Jean-de-Côle.
1:00 pm – Next, we’ll have LUNCH at a nearby restaurant to be announced later.
3:00 pm – TRANSFER back to hotel and afternoon free to relax, swim or sit by the pool, play in the large game room, take a nearby hike or simply enjoy the castle grounds.
8:00 pm – As a group back at the castle we’ll have a LIGHT DINNER of aperitifs, or light but substantial snacks.
9:00 am – BREAKFAST on your own at the castle.
Morning free to sleep in or enjoy your time as you see fit.
11:00 am – TRANSFER to the city of Périgeuex with time to walk around, shop and have lunch on your own at any of the many restaurants you’ll find. Périgeuex also has an impressive church and other sites you can choose to see and visit.
5:00 pm – TRANSFER back to the castle for afternoon free to relax, swim or sit by the pool, play in the large game room, take a nearby hike or simply enjoy the castle grounds.
7:30 pm – DINNER as a group at castle.
9:00 am – BREAKFAST at the castle.
Here you’ll have plenty of free time to walk its side streets, riverfront and along the sheer cliff walls where cave homes, shops and even the church and abbaye have been carved out of the solid rock.
Plan to have lunch on your own at any of the many restaurants to be found in town.
Recommendations (subject to being open and reservations are highly recommended):
- Le Moulin de l’Abbaye, located at 1 avenue Pierre de Bourdeilles 24310,
is a gorgeous 1-star Michelin restaurant located right on the river in Brantôme (reservations required – 05 53 05 80 22)
- La Guinguette, located at 25 bis rue Victor Hugo 24310 in Brantôme
is a wonderful restaurant in a beautiful setting on the river and opens at noon every day.
2:00 pm – TRANSFER back to the castle for a free afternoon to relax, swim or sit by the pool, play in the large game room, take a nearby hike or simply enjoy the castle grounds.
7:30 pm – DINNER at the castle as a group.
9:00 am – BREAKFAST on your own at the castle.
10:00 am – TRANSFER to a town called Neuvic for VISIT to Caviar du Neuvic where we can learn the extremely interesting process of raising sturgeon and how their eggs are collected and processed for caviar. We’ll also have a caviar tasting at the end of our visit.
11:30 am – Next, we’ll drive just down the way to VISIT Moulin de la Veyssiere, a walnut mill where we can see their age-old system of processing walnuts and hazelnuts into very tasty oils (interestingly enough, this region is known for walnut and hazelnut production, not for olives). Those who wish can purchase these products to bring home as gifts or for personal use, but do abide by any customs laws.
12:30 – LUNCH as a group at a very nice restaurant.
3:00 pm – TRANSFER back and afternoon free.
8:00 pm – DINNER as a group at the castle.
9:00 am – Casual BREAKFAST on your own at the castle (please keep in mind that lunch will be a little later today).
10:00 am – TRANSFER to Market Day in the nearby town of Ribérac where you can marvel at the beautiful and tasty displays of food, flowers and other items on sale and perhaps choose to purchase some food to bring back to the castle to eat as a group.
12:00 pm – TRANSFER back to the castle for lunch and some free time.
1:00 pm – Enjoy an impromptu lunch outside at the castle or in the dining room. You may like to pick up some bread, cheese, fruits and vegetables, sausages, foie gras, drinks and whatever else you’d like to eat and share at lunch.
4:00 pm – Afternoon and early evening free to do your own thing.
8:00 pm – FAREWELL DINNER at the castle.
Unfortunately, your trip comes to an end today so it’ll be time to say goodbye to new and old friends. Be sure to pack all your belongings, check out, leave your key and have everything with you for your GROUP TRANSFER to Angoulême (if applicable).
9 am – BREAKFAST at the castle.
10:30 am – TRANSFER to train in Angoulême, approximate arrival 11:30 am (pretty firm, but subject to change and we’ll discuss ahead of time).
12:15 pm – train Angoulême to Bordeaux
2:26 pm > 5:34 pm – this is one option for a direct train from Angoulême to Paris CDG T2.
Exact timing may be subject to change.
Regarding Your Flight Home
In order to give yourself time to arrive at the airport and check in, if flying from Paris’ CDG please arrange your onward flight no earlier than 8:30 pm local time on the last day (subject to change, and please don’t make any non-refundable travel arrangements until given the go ahead by ACE administrators).
You can certainly choose to stay over in Paris to enjoy its many sites and things to do, or transfer on your own to Bordeaux or other parts of France or Europe to continue your experience, but please arrange these additional services on your own.
We wish you safe travels and happy memories
of what will surely be an unforgettable trip!
SUBJECT TO CHANGE: Again, if flying out the last day of our tour we’re estimating that you’ll want to schedule your flight to leave the last evening after 8:30 pm local time, to allow plenty of time to comfortably make your onward flight.
For more information and to register for this trip,
please contact us at admin@AllaCampagna.com.
PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS A WORKING ITINERARY
AND THAT ALL ASPECTS OF IT ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
- All accommodations at Château de Marouatte in a single or double occupancy room during trip dates. A single supplement applies for those wishing to have their own room throughout the trip. Please specify Twin (2 beds) or Double (one large bed) if you’re sharing (certain room configurations may be limited).
- Group transfers from and back to Angoulême train station to and from the castle.
- Transportation for day trips organized as group activities (or rent your own car for maximum flexibility).
- Meals: All Breakfasts (B), 3 Lunches (L) and 7 Dinners (D), including table water, soft drinks, beer, house wine and/or coffee/tea.
- All entry fees for group activities as outlined in the itinerary.
- Flights or other transportation to and from France.
- Transfers from and to CDG or other airport(s) from and to your hotel (if applicable).
- Pre- or post-trip accommodations outside of published tour dates.
- Transportation to and from Angoulême via TGV or other method (your transfers each way are only included on above tour dates).
- Meals not specifically outlined in the itinerary as included.
- Drinks or other alcoholic beverages beyond table water, soft drinks, beer, house wine and coffee/tea provided during included meals at the castle (may vary for group meals outside the castle).
- Items of a personal nature.
Services begin as of your included group pick up in private vehicle at the train station in Angoulême, which is located just about 50 minutes from the castle. You can take the TGV high-speed train from Paris, Bordeaux or other parts of France directly to Angoulême for a reasonable fee.
As the trip approaches more details about getting to and from Angoulême will be provided but guests will be required to arrange their own arrival airport transfers, accommodations outside of the castle and any other transportation not mentioned as included below. Guests can also choose to rent a car, or share with others, in order to have their own transportation throughout the trip, which may come in handy, especially during free time, but know that group transportation is provided for our scheduled activities and your free time can always be spent at the castle.
All aspects of this itinerary are subject to change. We ask that you remain flexible as there are often circumstances beyond our control and changes may be necessary.
The trip leader, tour operator and/or tour coordinator reserve the right to make adjustments to the published itinerary whenever, in their sole discretion, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort and/or safety of the group.