France's Magical Dordogne Trip Overview
Join Alla Campagna Experiences Founder and professional tour organizer Ralph Velasco for a truly unforgettable stay in a private castle from the 11th-century. 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 Marouatte.
“LOVED your presentation at The Refinery on Saturday!! You got me motivated to travel & I learned a lot!! THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME and for sharing your gift!!”
“Thanks again for such an amazing trip…my photography interest and appetite has completely grown since the trip and I have come back so invigorated and inspired. I’m excited to learn more and begin to take some higher quality pictures.”
“Thanks for a great trip. All went smoothly and I had a great time. I return a better photographer for certain and have a new perspective on what I see. You offer a great product – smart itineraries, hotels and food choices…I look forward to another trip.”
“The fun, adventure and friendship with you means everything to us, along with a great photo or two along the way!”
“Ralph, Morocco truly is magical! Thanks for a beautiful two weeks!”
“Our tour leader Ralph was one of the most knowledgeable trip leaders I have experienced over the past 40 years. He is a very experienced photographer and generously shared his knowledge, talents and experience with us. I think I learned more composition skills and believe I am a better photographer.”
“I really liked the [small] size of the tour. It felt like traveling with friends from very early on, and continued to feel that way. That last hotel we stayed in, the one in Budapest, was such a treat! Those views were fabulous, and it ended the trip in style. Ralph is a good trip leader… He wasn’t hovering, but he did stop and give tips and I felt well-tended. The local guides were all outstanding!”
“Ralph is an engaging and knowledgeable photographer that puts his world class experience in your hands. This trip has been off the charts.”
“The photo critique alone [at the Photography Boot Camp] is worth the price of admission.”
“Great examples clearly demonstrated the points Ralph made. His teaching methods made many things much simpler to understand. I thoroughly enjoyed this class!”
September 17 – 24, 2022
$4,800 per person in Double Occupancy.
Please add $400 for Single Supplement if you’d like your own room throughout.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER
Please request the details of this trip by contacting us at.
To register, you can pay with a credit card via PayPal (to request invoice) or deposit a check directly into the PhotoEnrichment Programs, Inc. 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 above.
Your participation is not confirmed until completed Reservation Form and Terms & Conditions, plus passport copy and payment in full, have been received.
- All accommodations at Château de Marouatte in a single or double occupancy room during trip dates (all rooms on this trip have private bath). 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.
- Meals: All Breakfasts (B), 3 Lunches (L) and 7 Dinners (D), including table water, soft drinks, beer, house wine and/or coffee/tea.
- Bottled water is provided in each room at the castle.
- All entry fees for group activities as outlined in the itinerary below.
- 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 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.
About the TGV Train to and from Angoulême
For more information on the trains in France, please start your search at OUI.sncf 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.” You might also compare prices using RailEurope.com.
Small Group Experience to France with Ralph Velasco
INFO ABOUT CHÂTEAU 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 heated swimming pool, centuries old winery, games room, dining room, chapel (now used as a second dining room) and 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 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 runs 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.
ABOUT THE PÉRIGORD VERT OF THE DORDOGNE
Located in what is called the Périgord Vert in the northwest Dordogne, Château 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 in about two 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 afternoon of May 23rdfrom Angoulême station, or you may choose to rent your own car for maximum flexibility during the trip.
Testimonials from past France’s Magical Dordogne participants:
“I loved it. Staying in a castle wasn’t too shabby either! The food was well prepared and tasty. The chef and his wife were very friendly and helpful. I would go again.”
~ Marty R. (France)
“…a wonderful chance to experience some of the most beautiful scenery and cuisine that Europe has to offer, a real insight into the people and way of life of a historically rich region.
Each day we were treated to a new and vibrant outing…but know that staying in a castle built so long ago comes with its quirks for sure, but that’s what made it so incredible.
We’ll look back with fond memories on our time in France…”
~ Gavin & Nicky B. (Armenia/Georgia, France, Chicago, Milwaukee)
“Your childhood fantasies will come true as you live in a real castle for a week and visit some unique and interesting sites in the region. Unusual and unique experiences are what Ralph Velasco and his Alla Campagna Experiences will provide and get you to the places off the beaten track. Also, expect great dining, you will not go hungry.”
~ Julie S. (France, Costa Rica, Milwaukee)
“What a beautiful area to visit! Off the beaten path, we visited great local places. We most definitely saw a side that not many tourists venture out, to. And staying in a castle? How much more magical can that be?”
~ Laurie K. (Armenia/Georgia, France, Cambodia, Portugal, others)
Ralph Velasco is a U.S.-based travel photography instructor, author and international guide who has organized and led over 100 international tours and more than 100 domestic tours in the United States. His international trips have included Armenia & the Republic of Georgia, Egypt, Morocco, the Adriatic, Central Europe, Iceland, Bhutan & Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Spain, Portugal, Tuscany, Romania, Mexico’s Copper Canyon, Turkey and other locations.
Ralph is an award-winning travel photography blogger, podcast host and public speaker, and for more than 12 years he’s been the Founder and CEO (Chief Experience Officer) of PhotoEnrichment Adventures. Recently he created a new travel brand called Alla Campagna Experiences where the focus is less on photography in each destination and even more about the culture, people, food, drink and other unique activities and experiences they have to offer, all while staying in unforgettable properties, such as private castles, wine estates, one-of-a-kind boutique hotels, villas and converted mansions, mostly in and around the Mediterranean.
Subscribe to Ralph’s new YouTube channel, The Continental DRIFTER, as well as visit its accompanying travel blog at this link. At The Continental DRIFTER you can expect travel advice, interesting stories, expert interviews and easy-to-use photography tips for Baby Boomers and Gen X travelers.
Now, invest in yourself…get out and travel!
All activities and itinerary details are subject to change, but rest assured we’ll make every effort to provide a comparable alternative in the unlikely event changes to our schedule need to be made.