The Périgord of
"Bruno, Chief of Police"
A Politics & Prose Trip with Author Martin Walker | August 31 - September 7, 2019
Optional Extension to Bordeaux | September 7 - 10, 2019
$4465, Based on Single Occupancy
With No Single Supplement Needed
If you’re a fan of Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police mysteries set in France, you know that Bruno is, sadly, only fictional. But his region, Périgord Nord, is quite real, as are the foods and wines and markets and castles and characters that Bruno encounters in his adventures. As it happens (not a coincidence), writer Martin Walker lives just outside of the town of Le Bugue, France, suspiciously similar to Bruno’s St. Denis.
Join Politics & Prose on an exploration of this unique part of France, well known for its food specialties (truffles, walnuts, foie gras) and wines (Bruno loves wine!). A highlight of the trip will be spending time with Martin Walker. We’ll spend one whole day in “St. Denis,” tasting wines at Bruno’s favorite wine shop, and then going on to Martin’s house, where he and his wife will prepare us lunch, pour us some favorite wines, and tell us stories about the region.
We’ll stay at the Plaza Madeleine Hotel in the medieval town of Sarlat-la-Canéda, with its beautiful yellow sandstone buildings housing restaurants and shops. Small and extremely walkable, Sarlat has more historic monuments than any other town in France.
Politics & Prose trips are always made up of small (maximum 18 people) groups of congenial people who, like you, love to read. You’ll have two experienced trip leaders with you each day – on a trip that features many of Martin Walker’s favorite places in the region.
Please note that we may make changes to this itinerary in response to unexpected closings, road conditions, weather or other unforeseen events.
Saturday, August 31
Depart from home for your overnight flight. You will change planes at a European airport and continue on to Bordeaux, France. Please note: you must plan your trip to arrive in Bordeaux before noon. (We will provide you with recommended flights.)
Sunday, September 1
Arrive in Bordeaux. We’ll pick you up at 1pm at the Bordeaux airport for the drive through the Dordogne region to Sarlat-la-Canèda. (Pick up a sandwich and water in the airport for the ride.) You can rest for the afternoon, stroll through the streets of Sarlat, or simply sit in the outdoor bar in the front of the hotel and enjoy a drink.
Meet in the hotel bar for orientation for the week.
Monday, September 2
Today we begin our exploration of the Périgord Nord with a visit to the newly opened Lascaux IV. In addition to the almost perfect replica of the entire cave and all its art, the new center features many exhibits and experiences to help us understand both why these early peoples painted such dramatic pictures of animals and how they used the very surfaces of the cave walls themselves to make artistic decisions. We’ll return to Sarlat in time for lunch.
Meet in the hotel lobby for a walking tour of the historic town of Sarlat.
Orientation in the hotel salon, plus a bit of wine and snacks.
Tuesday, September 3
It’s market day in Le Bugue (known to Bruno fans as “St. Denis.”) We’ll visit this bustling market and have time to eat lunch in the village.
In the afternoon, we’ll head out to meet Martin at the Chateau de Commarque, an important site in The Templars’ Last Secret. We’ll meet Martin at the extensive ruins of the Chateau de Commarque, where the book begins. Historical records first mention the chateau in the 12th century. Like many other places in this area, the Hundred Years War took its toll, but the ruins are slowly being restored. Martin will tell us all about the chateau’s history and why it figures as the opening scene of the book.
Wine and conversation in the hotel bar.
Wednesday, September 4
This morning we drive to the Chateau des Millandes, a Renaissance castle built in 1489. It was abandoned after the French Revolution, but beautifully restored and improved in the early 1900s. Most notably now, it was the home of Josephine Baker, the wildly popular black dancer and entertainer who took Paris by storm. Less known about Baker are her work for the French resistance in WWII and her adoption of numerous children. The Chateau is still decorated inside in the art deco style Baker loved.
At the chateau (weather permitting), we’ll also wander through the beautiful gardens and watch a demonstration with live birds of prey, some of them endangered species. We’ll have lunch in the nearby town of Beynac.
Meet in Beynac for the brief drive outside the village of Saint Cernin to visit the Font de Gaume, a cave with prehistoric polychrome paintings depicting bison, horses and mammoths, dating from about 17,000 BC. It’s the only cave in France with original polychrome paintings that’s still open to the public.
Wine and conversation in the hotel bar.
Thursday, September 5
We depart to meet Martin at Bruno’s favorite wine store - Julien de Savignac - where we’ll taste some of his favorite wines. Afterwards, we’ll take the short drive to Martin’s home in the countryside, where he and his wife Julia Watson have invited us for lunch. We’ll visit their home and stroll around the garden, and then have a long lazy lunch with lots of wine. We depart for home mid-afternoon.
Wine and conversation in the hotel bar.
Friday, September 6
We depart for our drive to Bordeaux. We’ll stop to visit the Chateau de Monbazillac and taste the sauternes at their vineyard. We’ll stop for lunch in nearby Bergerac (yes, of Cyrano de Bergerac fame), and then arrive in Bordeaux in the late afternoon. You’ll have time to stroll around the beautiful town and have dinner outdoors at one of the many restaurants in the St. Pierre square.
Saturday, September 7
Depart from Bordeaux airport on your flight home.
Here's What's Included:
What’s not included: lunches (except for the day with Martin Walker) and dinners, tickets to museums and attractions not listed on the itinerary, out-of-town train tickets, your flight to Bordeaux and back home or anything else not listed under “What’s included.”
Ready to Pack Your Bags?
The price for the trip is $4465. You'll have your own room without paying an additional single supplement. To reserve your space, register here.
To secure your space, mail your deposit check, made out to Wild Blue Yonder in the amount of $650, to Sheila Campbell, Wild Blue Yonder, 1001 Spring Street, Suite 623, Silver Spring, MD 20910. If you’d prefer to pay by credit card (there’s a 3% surcharge), email Sheila at email@example.com and she’ll send you a Paypal invoice.
For more information, contact
Optional Extension to Bordeaux
We’ll be tasting lots of wine in the Périgord, but you might not want to miss a short stay in Bordeaux, the world’s leading wine industry capital. The heart of its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site; Bordeaux has more preserved historic buildings than anywhere in France except Paris. The city sits on the Garonne River and has a lively and sophisticated culture. Plus, of course, where there’s fine wine, you’ll also find great food, with many fine restaurants located near our hotel. Here’s what you can expect:
Optional Bordeaux Extension Itinerary
Saturday, September 7
We depart for a walking tour of some of the most spectacular of the city’s UNESCO sites: the Port de la Lune (Moon Port) that has defined its character for centuries, the spacious Place de la Bourse, the Miroir d’Eau fountain on the river walkway, the ancient St. Pierre district and much more. After lunch, we’ll visit the Musée Aquitaine, an exquisitely designed museum on the history of Bordeaux and the Aquitaine region. Among other things, you’ll learn about the history of slavery associated with its seafaring history. The sarcophagus of Michel de Montaigne lies here too.
Then you’ll have some free time for shopping (and the shopping is fabulous in Bordeaux!).
Sunday, September 8
We begin our day at the big brocante (flea market) on historic Place Saint Michel, and then have lunch at the covered Marché du Capucines, known as the “belly of Bordeaux.” There we can feast on fresh seafood and all sorts of regional specialties. After lunch, we’ll have a cruise on the Garonne River, with a bit of wine tasting as we go.
Monday, September 9
Today we take a short drive to the exquisite town of Saint Emilion, surrounded by vineyards and renowned for its wine. In the center of town, we’ll have a tour of the famous underground 12th century church, hewn out of limestone. We’ll pause for lunch, and then – of course – taste some of the famous St. Emilion wines. You’ll have a bit of time to browse the charming shops as well before we return to Bordeaux for the evening.
Tuesday, September 10
Depart for home.
The optional Bordeaux extension is $2160, with no single supplement.
The price for the optional extension is $2160, which includes three nights at the Grand Hotel Français in Bordeaux, transportation card for the city and all museums, tours and visits mentioned in the itinerary. As usual, there is no single supplement to pay. (There is a 6-person minimum group size for the optional extension.)
You can indicate on the trip registration form that you’ll be arriving early for the extension. No additional deposit is required for the extension.
Q. How many people will be on the trip?
The maximum number of people is 18, so you won’t feel like you’re part of a huge group.
Q. This trip seems a little more expensive than the other P&P trips I’ve been on.
That’s right, it is a bit more expensive, for two reasons. First, in Sarlat we stay at a higher grade of hotel than usual – the luxurious 4-star Plaza Madeleine hotel with a spa, swimming pool and particularly nice bar. Second, all the places we visit in the Périgord are spread out, so we’ll need group transport everyday.
Q. Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. And we hate eating at long tables where we haven’t got a choice about what to order. Instead, we’ll find typically French places for lunch, and, in Sarlat, there are lots of restaurants to sample at dinner. You can choose where you eat, and with whom and how much you want to spend.
Q. What’s the best way to get to Bordeaux?
As of this writing (airline schedules are always subject to change), we strongly recommend flying:
Delta #8631 out of Dulles to Paris, departing at 6:15pm. Change at Charles de Gaulle airport for Bordeaux on Delta flight #8322, arriving in Bordeaux at 11:30am.
Our recommended return flight is at 12:15pm out of Bordeaux, which changes in Paris and arrives in Washington at 6:25pm.
Note that these flights are actually operated by Air France, so you can book them through either airline. At the airport, you’ll check in at Air France even if you book through Delta.
If you’re not coming from Washington, DC, then you might still try to get on the Delta flight from Paris to Bordeaux as your connection.
It’s VERY IMPORTANT that you book a flight that arrives before noon in Bordeaux. We’ll pick up everyone from the airport at 1pm for the drive to Sarlat.
If your flight is scheduled to arrive before noon but is delayed, we’ll wait for you before setting off for Sarlat. But if you’ve booked a flight that arrives after noon, you’ll be responsible for getting yourself to Sarlat.
Q. Do we have to fly to Bordeaux? What about taking the train from Paris?
It would be a very long train trip. You’d have to travel from Paris (TGV from Montparnasse in Paris) to Bordeaux, and arrive in time for our 1pm pick up time at the Bordeaux airport. If you missed that time, then it would be another 2-hour and 45 minute train ride to Sarlat, where our trip begins. We don’t recommend the train.
If you fly to Bordeaux (you must choose a flight that arrives before noon), we’ll pick you up at the airport and drive you to Sarlat.
Q. Do I have to pay a single supplement?
No. This trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room.
Q. I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms, because French hotel rooms just aren’t as large as those in the U.S. But of course you can share a room if you prefer.
Q. Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
We strongly recommend it. In particular, you’ll want to have trip cancellation insurance in case something happens and you can’t come at the last minute, and also medical evacuation insurance which will fly you home if needed. Remember that Medicare is valid only in the U.S., so if you’re on Medicare, you’ll definitely want some basic medical insurance. The best time to purchase your travel insurance is right when you pay your deposit for the trip.
And please read the trip Terms and Conditions section below carefully for our cancellation policy.
Q. Tell me about the trip leaders.
Donna Morris has lived in Paris, France for the last eleven years. She founded her business, Best Friend in Paris, in 2009 with her signature tour, Follow Me, an experience for her clients that helps them see Paris with the same love and appreciation for the City of Light that she has. She has developed and organized Politics and Prose trips to Paris, Provence and the Loire Valley. She speaks fluent French.
Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder has been organizing Politics & Prose trips for several years, in countries including France, South Africa, England and Italy. In her day-to-day work, she’s a group retreat leader who understands how to ensure everyone is involved and having a memorable experience. She lives in Washington, DC, where she was a docent at the National Gallery of Art for many years. She speaks tourist French.
Q. What is the Hotel Plaza Madeline like? What about the hotel in Bordeaux?
It’s a quite sophisticated hotel, beautifully designed, with a spa and swimming pool. We particularly love sitting outside at the bar in the evenings.
For the final night in Bordeaux, we’ll be using the Grand Hotel Français, perfectly located in the center of the city. The hotel is typically French, with small but nicely appointed rooms.
Q. What’s included in the breakfast at the Plaza Madeleine?
Breakfast is definitely a treat here. There’s a wide selection of croissants, rolls and pastries, cheeses, cold cuts, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, cereal, French yogurt and so on. But – unlike many continental hotels — they also have eggs and bacon or sausage every day.
Q. Is there internet access at the hotel?
Yes, free wifi comes with your room.
Q. What will the weather be like?
It’s hard to say for sure, but it should be sunny and slightly cool – but warm enough most nights to sit outside at dinner. It’s always a good idea, of course, to come prepared for rain, so do pack an umbrella, a light jacket and – most important of all – very comfortable walking shoes.
Q. What to wear?
Wear just what you would at home – casual jeans, slacks or skirts, even for eating out at night.
Of course, for any place where you need a reservation, you’ll want to dress appropriately. But let comfort rule your choices.
Q. I don’t speak French. Can you help me figure out what to eat?
Absolutely. We’ll provide a list of common menu terms, and let you know how to do things like ask for the check.
Q. Is it safe to walk around by myself at night in Sarlat and Bordeaux?
As in any city, it makes sense to be aware of your surroundings after dark. But these are small cities with lots of charm, and our hotels are located where there are lots of people about. You can feel quite comfortable walking around after dark.
Q. When do I need to sign up by?
The sooner you put down your deposit, the better. This trip is likely to sell out very quickly.
Q. Do I need an international cell phone?
It’s always convenient to have one, but it’s not necessary. If you bring a laptop, smartphone or iPad, you can always use Skype over wifi; that’s one of the least expensive ways to reach people in the States.
If you do want a phone, you can rent international phones at many major airports, or you might want to check in with your cell provider to see if you can buy an international calling package for the time you’re here.
Terms & Conditions
Please read this information carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.
Trip prices include hotel accommodations on a single or double occupancy basis, breakfast at the hotel, transportation to locations as outlined in the itinerary, evening social events to plan the next day’s activities, and the services of the trip leaders as outlined in the trip description.
Not included in the trip price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions not mentioned in the itinerary; airfare and airline baggage fees; lunches and dinners; hotel, restaurant or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry or room service; internet wifi except as established in the trip description; airport transfers or any other services not specified in the trip description.
Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.
Registration and Payment
A deposit of $650 per person confirms your reservation. Deposits may be paid by check made out to Wild Blue Yonder, Inc., or credit card via PayPal. There is a 3% surcharge for PayPal.
Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received by Wild Blue Yonder, except for deposits made less than 60 days before a trip departs; those deposits are completely nonrefundable. Two weeks after the receipt of the deposit by Wild Blue Yonder, deposits are not refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your trip reservation. Cancellations must be in writing by either letter to Wild Blue Yonder or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cancellations become effective on the date they are received by Wild Blue Yonder.
Once your reservation deposit has been paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.
We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.
Full final payment is due May 15, 2019.
Cancellations and Refunds
For any cancellations made before May 15, 2019, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded any other payments you have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing either by email or letter. No refunds are possible after May 15, 2019.
We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance when you pay your deposit for this trip.
Changes to Your Reservation
If you would like to stay on for longer than the official days of the trip, we will make reservations for you at the hotel. We will not charge you for any changes to your reservation outside of 90 days before the trip start date. From 30 – 89 days before the trip start date, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.
You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip.
Health and Medical Issues
We welcome all travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. Our trips require a reasonable amount of walking, possibly several hours a day, uphill or on uneven streets or streets without curb cuts. You must be able to climb stairs and board trains and buses on your own. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you.
If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets, and entrance fees).
We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Should you have to cancel your trip after you have paid in full, we cannot offer refunds other than specified above, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.
Arrival and Departure Dates
It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date 90 days before the trip start date.
The liability of Wild Blue Yonder and Politics & Prose, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.
Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party.
Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The forgoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland.
If you’re not caught up on all of Martin Walker’s Bruno series of mysteries, you’ll want to have read them all by the time you get here. Here’s a list of the books in order:
And you’ll also want to read Martin’s novel, The Caves of Perigord. It’s not a Bruno book, but is quite full of insights into the Perigord region.
Other books you might enjoy are:
The Complete Essays by Michel de Montaigne. Renaissance writer Montaigne retired to his tower and wrote numerous essays about life and his personal philosophies. If you’ve never read Montaigne, now is a good time to meet him.
How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell. This highly readable biography of Montaigne and his ideas won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.
Josephine Baker: The Hungry Heart by Jean-Claude Baker. This well-told biography of Baker is told by one of the many children she adopted and raised in les Millandes, her chateau in the Perigord.
A Castle in the Backyard: The Dream of a House in France by Betsy Draine. Yes, this memoir is certainly in the vein of all those other books written about buying a house in another country. But here the region is the Dordogne, and the book gives you a real feeling for the countryside