Full itinerary for our sacred and historical France tour with historian Henry Lincoln and cultural expert Allysha Lavino. 10 days of travel - history, mystery, Rennes-le-Chateau, Knights Templar, Mary Magdalene, Cathars, sacred geometry, the real DaVinci Code, French culture, food, and wine.
Ancient Mysteries: A Quest
SEPTEMBER 8 - 17, 2017
Are you called to the Adventure of a lifetime?
DAY 1: We meet in Toulouse where our coach whisks us off to the fairytale castle of Carcassonne. Across Time’s drawbridge, we begin to sink into the past within the walls of this fortified medieval city. Here, old meets new — with time to explore candy shops galore set upon ancient cobbled streets. After a traditional French dinner, we enjoy the quiet beauty of a stroll round the ramparts.
DAY 2: We begin the morning exploring the feudal fortress of Carcassonne. This archetypal medieval Cité is a gateway, yet it is only the beginning … Now we truly head off to an older world as we take the winding way to the 8th century Abbey of Saint Hilaire, nestled in the heart of small-town Occitania. Settling into the slower pace of country life within the peaceful walls of the abbey, we take refreshment at the local café before moving on to Limoux and her beautiful Black Madonna. Here, we begin to uncover some of the anomalies that have made this region famous. Filled with a spirit of exploration, we head on to our home away from home ~ Rennes-les-Bains ~ and the five-course, home-cooked meal that awaits us.
DAY 3: Waking leisurely to a fresh breakfast, we make our way to the neighbouring town of Esperaza, where the local outdoor market has taken over the village. Le marché, a staple of French life, is an unmatched sensory spectacle, and we delight in this delicious tradition as we troll the stalls in search of unique local goodies, souvenirs, and gifts. We spend the afternoon getting to know our home base, Rennes-les-Bains, with its healing hot springs and Roman foundations, and preparing ourselves to dive into the mysteries of the region.
DAY 4 : Henry Lincoln has uncovered an ancient secret buried deep in the landscape of the Languedoc.
Do you have eyes to see?
After a mind-blowing presentation by the mystery master himself, today we pop up the hill to Rennes-le-Château for a strange Adventure. Here, we visit the coded church and see for ourselves the secrets that have been hidden throughout the centuries. Bring your questions, cameras, and an open mind ready for inquiry. Marie’s Garden is more than just a delightful café … it’s where history comes to life.
DAY 5: Equipped with information from Rennes-le-Château, we learn to see for ourselves the clues in the landscape that Bérenger Saunière hid. It was never DaVinci’s code, but another painter leads us to evidence … proof of the cover-up. Now, we travel to a little-known, natural grotto on a very specific spot and have the opportunity to meditate on the power of the land in this awesome country. The afternoon is reserved for a very special treat — a secret Adventure to a little-known wonder buried deep in the countryside of Occitania. After a hearty picnic, we head off to the forests of fée, where the very way beneath our feet is full of surprises. We never know what treasure may be uncovered!
DAY 6: This morning we bring our water bottles to Campagne-les-Bains and its mineral-rich spring which flows the healing waters of the mountain. A beautiful drive leads us on to the idyllic castle of Puylaurens, one of the eagle’s nest Cathar Castles found throughout the Languedoc. After a hike up with time to explore and connect, we enjoy a lovely picnic at the foot of the crest. Then, it’s on to the Gorges de Galamus and a hermitage nestled on sheer cliffs. Here in the backwoods of Occitania, we may discover that not all is lost, for those who remember live on in this land.
DAY 7: Travelling across the Languedoc to the Fountain of Fontestorbes, we discover a true wonder of nature. After coffee or tea near the Fountain, we are off to the infamous castel of Montségur, legendary home of the last Cathars. We enjoy the mysteries, the landscape, and each other’s company before heading back for our last home-cooked feast — a gastronomical paradise of traditional French delights!
DAY 8: Into the coach and off across the countryside, we bid farewell to our B&B in Rennes-les-Bains and head Provence to discover where Mary Magdalene is said to have lived the last thirty years of her life. To keep our spirits up on our long drive across the stunning South of France, we admire the landscape as it changes with each passing mile and stop for a leisurely picnic to stretch our legs. Arriving in Arles for the evening, we have free time to explore our new home, to rest, or to practice the travel skills we have gained throughout our Adventure in the darling centre ville of Arles. Dinner tonight will be an individual excursion and each Adventurer is free to dine at the restaurant of their choice.
DAY 9: Our last full day together, we begin at the famed Basilica of Sainte Marie Madeleine, which houses the bones of a 1st century Palestinian woman, said to be the bones of Mary Magdalene. In this quiet and richly-charged space, we have the opportunity to meditate and explore our own relationships with this sainted figure and the storied past of the region. After a delicious picnic to keep up our strength, we head up the mountain to Sainte Baume, named for the holy balm with which Mary Magdalene is said to have anointed Jesus. Here in a cave on a high hill in the mountains of Provence, Mary is said to have lived out her life in peace. After a full day of exploration, we enjoy a farewell feast in Arles, reflecting on the beauty and joy that have been so present throughout our Adventure, sharing our experiences, and revelling in the richness of our quest.
DAY 10: Packing up to head home, we find ourselves subtly enlivened by these days in the Languedoc. We wave goodbye to our new friends and the stunning landscape of Old Occitania as our coach carries us back to present day and the airport in Marseille. Heading home once again, we travel onward with the memories of our time together and the wondrous vitality that this magical land has shared with us.
SEPTEMBER 8 - 17, 2017
VERY SMALL GROUPS ~ PLACES LIMITED